Bullying and harassment: NHSScotland PIN policy

This Partnership Information Network (PIN) policy is not in use after 1 March 2020. Policies in force after 1 March 2020 are on https://workforce.nhs.scot/policies

This document is part of a collection

Appendix 2 Policy statement on bullying and harassment at work

With input from the highest levels of the organisation and in partnership with key stakeholders, Boards should adapt the following outline to devise their organisation's own policy statement.

The organisation is committed to provide a working environment which is free from bullying and harassment. Every employee of this organisation has a responsibility to treat colleagues with dignity and respect irrespective of their race, nationality, sex, sexual orientation, disability, age, religion or belief, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy, maternity, gender recognition, political conviction, membership/non-membership of a trade union/professional organisation or work pattern.

Therefore, the bullying or harassment of any member of staff for any reason is unacceptable and the organisation will not condone or tolerate bullying or harassment in any form.

We will make every effort to try and resolve all bullying or harassment allegations within our organisation via dialogue. It is the responsibility of every employee to foster a culture of open conversation to ensure that formal complaints are minimised and all employees feel supported and valued.

The requirement to behave towards others in an acceptable manner applies not only to employees, but also to agency staff, contractors, patients, service users, carers or relatives of patients or service users, members of the public, advocates, staff from other organisations and any other person who has access to the organisation.

Bullying may be characterised as offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means intended to undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient.

Harassment is unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic (age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation), 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.

Bullying or harassment may be by an individual against an individual or involve groups of people. It may be obvious or it may be insidious. Whatever form it takes, it is unwarranted and unwelcome to the individual.

Where possible, bullying and harassment issues will be dealt with informally. Even so, the organisation takes the view that bullying and harassment may amount to serious or gross misconduct, depending upon the specific circumstances of each case, and which will be subject to action under the disciplinary procedure.

Additionally, to intentionally harass, alarm or distress anyone may be a criminal offence. Therefore reference to, and application of the bullying and harassment policy does not deny or inhibit in any way whatsoever, either the organisation's or the individual employee's legal rights, responsibilities, obligations and remedies. In serious cases, dismissal and criminal prosecution may result.

If, following investigation, a complaint has been found to be malicious or vexatious, the organisation reserves the right to consider disciplinary action against the complainant.

The attached policy, procedure and guidelines are intended to support dealing with bullying and harassment in the workplace by:

  • Raising staff awareness that a policy/procedure exists and an understanding of how it works;
  • Encouraging management and staff to raise genuine concerns using the policy/procedure;
  • Achieving a position whereby management and staff have confidence in the policy/procedure and feel comfortable when using it;
  • Improving the reporting and handling of such incidents;
  • Facilitating open discussion at Area Partnership Forums on the effectiveness of the policy/procedure;
  • Providing, where appropriate, access to confidential counselling, advice and support for victims of bullying and harassment at work;
  • Providing a programme for the communication of the policy, monitoring its effectiveness and training for those involved in applying the policy; and
  • Raising awareness that all staff, patients and visitors have a responsibility to ensure that their actions, attitudes or behaviours do not cause distress or upset to others. Additionally, managers and supervisors have a specific responsibility to be vigilant about identifying and dealing with bullying and harassment at work, ensuring implementation of and adherence to this policy.

This policy, procedure and guidelines are endorsed by the Board, senior management and the recognised trade unions/professional organisations and will be communicated to all of those who require to be made aware of its contents.

Back to top