Bullying and Harassment Policy

Background

The purpose of this policy is to support an environment and culture in which harassment and bullying are unacceptable and to provide a proper framework in which complaints about these matters can be dealt with. Everyone has the right to be treated with consideration, dignity, and respect in accordance with the Christian values. Harassment and Bullying will not be tolerated at Halifax Minster in any form. Allegations of harassment and/or bullying will be taken very seriously and treated confidentially.

Whilst harassment and bullying are two separate issues it may be possible that elements of both could be present in a complaint.

Harassment – The Equality Act 2010 uses a single definition of harassment to cover protected characteristics:

Harassment is “unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic, 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 relevant protected characteristics are age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation.

Anyone can raise concerns regarding behaviour that they find offensive even if it is not directed at them.

Bullying – bullying can be defined as persistent or systematic offensive, abusive, intimidating behaviour, or permutations of the same. This encompasses malicious or insulting behaviour, abuse of power, abuse of authority, or unfair penal sanctions which may make the recipient feel upset, threatened, humiliated or vulnerable.

Code of Conduct

All Church Officers, employee or volunteer should have an awareness of this policy:

  • Treat each other with dignity and respect.
  • Have a responsibility not to bully or harass each other nor aid or collude with others to bully, harass, or victimise.
  • Must have an awareness of the effect of their behaviour on others.
  • Must communicate openly and honestly and be open to feedback.
  • Have a responsibility to report harassment and bullying through appropriate channels ensuring they seek advice as necessary.

Reporting bullying and harassment

Always seek to resolve the matter informally. Some incidents of harassment or bullying can be dealt with effectively in an informal way. Often a person is unaware of the effect of their behaviour on others, and once made aware of the distress caused by their actions, the offensive behaviour ceases. Therefore, before the formal procedure is invoked, every effort should be made to use the informal procedure to resolve issues as soon as possible after they arise. if the bulling continues a formal complaint can be made.

If you do not feel able to raise your concerns with the person directly, you could write to them stating that you feel harassed and/or bullied, state where and when this occurred and how you wish to be treated. If this is not possible you should report any bullying or harassment to the Operations Manager or safeguarding officer.

The Operations Manager will keep the clergy and the church wardens up to date with the case.  The Archdeacon of Halifax / Leeds Dioceses will be consulted as required.

All PCCs are charities and so are required to report all Serious Incidents (safeguarding and otherwise) to the Charity Commission. These are alleged or actual incidents which have resulted in or risk significant harm to trustees, employees, office holders or volunteers and are considered to be “serious” in the context of the charity. An incident should always be reported where the level of harm to the victims and/or the likely damage to the reputation of or public trust in the charity is particularly high. For example: allegations of serious sexual abuse of and by a staff member, office holder or volunteer; abuse by a senior member of staff or office holder or if a widespread of culture of bullying, abuse or sexual harassment is uncovered.

Action and investigation

The Operations Manager supported by the Safeguarding Officer will investigate the background to the complaint. The investigation report will include a discussion with both parties, any witnesses’ statements, and an examination of additional evidence for example emails or letters. Once the investigation is completed, separate meetings will be arranged with the PCC subgroup to report on the findings and whether the complaint has been upheld in full or in part and what action or next steps are being recommended.

If the investigation finds there is no case to answer, the operations manager should notify both parties of the decision, giving full reasons why no further action is contemplated. Should an investigation conclude that harassment and/or bullying has taken place, or that the complaint has been raised maliciously or in bad faith further action will be taken including:

  • Mediation may be considered at any stage – before any informal or formal attempt is made to resolve the matter or after the matter has been resolved. Mediation can help to rebuild relationships that may have become damaged Mediation will be provided by an independent service.
  •  Additional training and support.
  • Time out from the role, this can be up to 6 months.
  • Hearings Panel with members of the PCC who hear the case and decide whether to end the Volunteer Agreement between the Minster and the Volunteer because the code of conduct has been broken. This is the least favoured option and the highest escalated position.
  • The Archdeacon will be informed of the outcome of the investigation.

Support

The following support measures are in place:

  • Anyone subject to harassment and/or bullying will be provided with a named support within the Minster.
  • Where the harassment and/or bullying is possibly due to a breakdown in relationships it may be possible to resolve the issue through mediation.
  • The above support is also available for the subject of a complaint of harassment or bullying.

This policy should be read in conjunction with the following policies:

C of E Safer Church Policy 2017.

Halifax Minster Volunteer Code of Conduct 2021

Guidance for PCCs: Identifying Safeguarding Serious Incidents and them to Reporting to the Charity Commission 2020

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