We have taken the decision to make changes to the way we progress some of our employee relations processes until further notice. These processes include:  

  • supporting attendance  
  • performance management 
  • discipline 
  • grievance 
  • bullying and harassment 

There are a number of factors that have necessitated this approach and these are explained in the Employee Relations Protocol.  We would ask you to read it carefully so that you understand your responsibility as managers in dealing with all current and future issues that may arise over the coming weeks.   

If you are a manager of employees actively involved in any of these management processes, or you have been appointed as an Investigating Officer, we would ask that you contact those individuals involved as soon as possible to advise of any changes and the time-frame involved (this is detailed in the protocol and will depend on the policy being followed and the stage it is currently at).   

To clarify, all cases will remain active, but we have amended some of our processes in order to comply with government advice around social distancing and to ensure the safety of all our employees during this difficult time.  

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The Council is dedicated to ensuring that everybody works in a healthy and safe environment free from bullying and harassment and is treated with dignity and respect. 


Bullying and Harassment Pages

Bullying and Harassment: Informal Stage

Bullying and Harassment: Formal Stage

Bullying and Harassment:  Investigation Appeals

Bullying and Harassment: Other Issues


What is Bullying?

Bullying is defined as offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient.


What is Harassment?

Harassment is defined as unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic (under the Equality Act 2010), or on other grounds, which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual. The protected characteristics are age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. Pregnancy and maternity and marriage and civil partnership are not protected directly under the provisions of the Equality Act 2010 but would amount to harassment related to sex and sexual orientation respectively.

Such behaviour may be physical, verbal or non-verbal.

Harassment also includes the following:

  • Harassment based on association – where an individual is harassed for association with another individual who has a protected characteristic. For example, if an employee is harassed because they are the carer of a disabled person.
  • Harassment based on perception – where an individual is harassed based on the perception that they have a protected characteristic. For example, if an employee is subjected to unwanted behaviour by a colleague due to their perception of the employee’s sexual orientation, even if they are mistaken in their perception.
  • Victimisation is a further form of unacceptable behaviour. This is less favourable treatment of an individual because they have raised, or intend to raise, a complaint or because they have acted, or intend to act, as a witness in support of another person’s complaint under this policy and procedure.

Service Responsibility

The responsibility for a bullying and harassment case sits with the Service.  Once a Manager determines that a case has been made to follow the Managing Bullying and Harassment policy and procedure, they should advise their Service Manager / Chief Officer / Director.  They will then appoint an investigating officer who will investigate.

While People and Organisation must be notified about any investigation, the Service is responsible for undertaking the entire investigation process through to the completion of the investigatory report.  

Copies of all letters and documents relating to the disciplinary process should be sent to People and Organisation for putting into an employee’s file.


Examples of Unacceptable Behaviour

Behaviours deemed to be bullying, harassment or victimisation can take place face to face or through other forms of communication including e-mail, blogs or telephone.

Examples include:

  • making offensive jokes, using abusive language, slander, sectarian songs
  • spreading malicious rumours, or insulting someone
  • copying correspondence that is critical about someone to others who do not need to know
  • isolation, non-co-operation exclusion or marginalisation
  • unfair treatment including unfair treatment on grounds prohibited by the Equality Act 2010
  • misuse of power or position
  • unwelcome sexual advances – touching, standing too close, displaying offensive material
  • intrusion by pestering, spying and stalking
  • making threats about job security without foundation
  • deliberately undermining a competent worker by making excessive workload demands and constant criticism
  • failing to safeguard confidential information

This list is neither exhaustive nor exclusive but is intended to give examples of behaviour that is unwarranted, unwelcome and is therefore unacceptable.


Policy and Guidance Documents

Bullying and Harassment Guidance Bullying and Harassment Policy

Further Training

  • R.E.S.P.E.C.T. – a Pit Stop designed to show the impact of our behaviour on others in the workplace. This Pit Stop also covers bullying and harassment in the workplace.
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