The Policy

The Policy

Dealing with Harassment and Bullying Policy

Contact Officers: Registrar and Secretary and Director of Personnel

This policy forms part of the University’s commitment to creating a work and study environment, where people are treated with dignity and respect.

It is linked with the University policy on Diversity and Equality and stems from the underpinning values that determine the culture within the University.
This document can be made available in large print and electronically upon request. If you require another alternative format please contact the Personnel Department, Bredon Building; Telephone: 01905 855173; Email:

Harassment or bullying may make people unhappy, may cause them stress and affect their health and family and social relationships, may affect their work/study performance and could cause them to leave their job or course.

Overview: Read more

Effects on the University can include loss of morale, poor work or study performance, increased turnover of staff, legal claims and damage to the University’s reputation.

Those who engage in harassment, bullying or victimization may face disciplinary penalties, up to and including dismissal or expulsion, could be personally liable in legal claims, and may find their own family and social relationships are adversely affected. A single incident can be harassment if it is sufficiently serious.

Some forms of harassment or bullying may well constitute unlawful discrimination if based on a person’s gender, sexual orientation, race, religion or belief, disability or age.

Serious harassment may be a criminal offence.

If an individual makes a complaint that they know to be untrue, or gives evidence that they know to be untrue, this may lead to disciplinary action being taken against them.


Legal protection extends to protection from harassment across the protected characteristics of age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation.

This policy covers harassment and bullying of and by employees, students, customers, visitors, contractors, agency staff and anyone else engaged to work at the University, whether by direct contract with the University or otherwise.

The policy covers harassment and bullying in the work and study environment and in any work or study related setting outside the work/study place, e.g. work or study placements, business trips and work and study related social events.

Harassment and bullying are not necessarily face to face and ‘cyberbullying’ is included in this policy; this includes the use of mobile phones, email, social media and the internet that causes distress in the form of general insults or those based on protected characteristics. 

The Policy

1. Members of the staff and students of the University are expected to treat all colleagues, students and visitors with dignity and respect. Harassment or bullying by any members of its community will not be tolerated.

2. Those making a complaint usually define what they mean by harassment or bullying as behaviour that is unwelcome, unwarranted and causes a detrimental effect.

3. Harassment is treatment that creates the effect, intentionally or unintentionally, of violating a person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, humiliating or offensive atmosphere that has a detrimental impact on an individual’s learning, working or social environment.

4. Third party harassment is where an individual is subjected to unwanted conduct from a third party, such as a visitor, supplier or contractor. Any such behaviour should be reported to an appropriate person. Complaints made by third parties about harassment by a member of the University will be dealt with through the staff or student disciplinary procedures.

5. Harassment by perception is where a person engages in unwanted conduct towards another because he/she perceives that the recipient has a protected characteristic; for example, a perception that he or she is gay or disabled, when the recipient is not gay or disabled.

6. Harassment by association is where an individual is bullied or harassed because of a connection with another person who has one of the protected characteristics; for example if his/her child is disabled, or friend is a devout Christian.

7. Bullying is offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, and/or an abuse or misuse of power that is meant to undermine, humiliate or injure the person on the receiving end.

8. Bullying must be distinguished from the obligation placed on those in supervisory roles to manage employees; this may include legitimate and constructive criticism of performance or behaviour at work, conducted in a reasonable manner. Reasonable (but perhaps unpopular) requests by a supervisor of employees will not be viewed as acts of harassment or bullying.

9. Victimisation is treating someone less favourably than others because s/he has, in good faith, complained (whether formally or otherwise) that someone has been bullying or harassing him or her or someone else, or supported someone to make a complaint or given evidence about a complaint.

10. Conduct may be harassment whether or not the person intends to offend. Something intended as a ‘joke’ may offend another person, including a saying or phrase It may not be clear in advance that some forms of behaviour would be unwelcome to, or could offend, a particular person, e.g. certain “banter”, flirting or asking someone for a private drink after work. In these cases first time conduct which unintentionally causes offence is not harassment but it will become harassment if the conduct continues after the recipient has made it clear that such behaviour is unacceptable to him or her.

11. Behaviour which any reasonable person would realise would be likely to offend will be harassment without the recipient having to make it clear in advance that behaviour of that type is not acceptable to him or her, e.g. sexual touching.

12. Harassment and bullying can often be hard to recognise – they may not be obvious to others, and may happen in a gradual subtle way. The recipient may think ‘perhaps this is normal behaviour’. They may be anxious that others will consider them weak, over-sensitive or not up to the job, if they find the actions of others intimidating. They may be accused of ‘overreacting’, and worry they will not be believed if they do report incidents.

There are separate documents available on the Personnel ‘information for staff’ Web pages which set out in detail the procedure for both staff and students to follow in respect of Harassment and Bullying

The Policy - The University will:

13. The University will:

a. Treat seriously all complaints of harassment and bullying made within the framework of this policy, and in a sensitive, swift and fair manner, with due regard for confidentiality of all involved; no one will be considered ‘at fault’ until an investigation has been conducted;

b. Provide training in the operation of this policy and procedure for those in supervisory roles and those who support students;

c. Encourage and support an informal resolution of difficulties in the first instance and wherever possible; informal discussions may be an effective means of resolving behaviour which is unwitting or insensitive by alerting the perpetrator to the impact of their behaviour;

d. Offer support and assistance to all involved;

e. Use the disciplinary procedure to take action against those found responsible for harassment and bullying or those whose allegations are vexatious;

f. Promote this policy to staff, students, visitors, suppliers and contractors;

g. Include information about this policy and its values in the induction process for all new staff, and staff transferring or being seconded to different roles; the policy will be available on the personnel web pages ‘information for staff section’;

h. Provide information about this policy and procedure to all students during induction, in course/programme handbooks and on the Student Sole Page;

i. Offer training or other intervention where appropriate to staff and students who are identified as behaving inappropriately;

j. Monitor all reported incidents of harassment and bullying and report to appropriate bodies; monitor the effectiveness of the policy through surveys of staff and students;

k. Amend the policy in the light of effectiveness and changes in legislation. 

The Policy - Staff and Students will:

14. Staff and Students will:

a. Ensure that they behave towards others with respect and dignity;

b. Contribute to preventing harassment and bullying through self awareness, and by supporting work colleagues or other students who experience such difficulties;

c. Challenge behaviour that is harassment, bullying, gossip and rumour;

d. Inform their manager/tutor or other appropriate member of staff confidentially when incidents occur that cause concern;

e. Not prejudge or victimise a complainant or alleged harasser.

The Policy - Academic staff/ those who lead and manage others will:

15. Academic staff/ those who lead and manage others will:

a. Lead and set standards of behaviour that are appropriate in a healthy working/study environment;

b. Make sure that staff and students know what standards of behaviour are expected of them, including by making staff or students for whom they are responsible aware of this policy;

c. Ensure the workplace and learning environment, including the web-based environment, is free from any literature, posters, notices etc. which may foster harassment and bullying attitudes and behaviour;

d. Eliminate rumour and gossip which may foster harassment and bullying attitudes and behaviour;

e. Act if they witness incidents of harassment or bullying regardless of whether or not a complaint has been made; this may require making a report to relevant others;

f. Investigate any complaint swiftly, fairly and confidentially when involved in the procedure.

The Policy - The University Initial/Harassment Advisors will:

16. The University Initial/Harassment Advisors will:

a. Provide a confidential support and information service to University staff and students on issues relating to harassment and bullying;

b. Support individuals against whom a harassment or bullying complaint has been made;

The Policy - Examples of harassment or bullying / unacceptable behaviour:

17. Examples of harassment or bullying / unacceptable behaviour:

• Spreading malicious rumours, or insulting someone (particularly on the grounds of age, gender, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief, gender reassignment);

• Forwarding memos/emails that are critical about someone to others who do not need to know;

• Ridiculing or demeaning someone in public or private (particularly on the grounds of age, gender, race, disability, sexual orientation and religion or belief, gender reassignment);

• Unwelcome sexual advances – touching, standing too close, display of materials with sexual images and/or words;

• The offer of rewards for going along with sexual advances, e.g. promotion, access to training or suggestions that refusing advances will adversely affect the employee’s employment, pay, advancement, assigned work, or any other condition of employment or career development, or a student’s evaluation of work or any other condition associated with their study;

• Questions about a person’s sex life;

• Homophobic harassment and bullying and includes using religious belief to justify anti gay harassment and bullying, and outing an individual as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender without their permission;

• Unwanted nicknames related to a person’s age, race or disability;

• The use of obscene gestures;

• Picking on someone or setting him/her up to fail;

• Isolation or non-cooperation at work;

• Excluding someone from social activities;

• Making threats or comments about someone’s job security without good reason;

• Undermining a competent worker by overloading and constant criticism;

• Preventing individuals progressing by intentionally blocking promotion or training opportunities;

• Any derogatory or offensive behaviour or language, including banter or making jokes which are degrading, which relate to a person’s real or perceived age, religion or belief, sexual orientation, disability, nationality, political beliefs or membership of trade union, and real or suspected infection with HIV , race, gender re-assignment, sex, marriage and civil partnership and pregnancy and maternity;

• Demeaning or inappropriate reference to a person’s appearance or character traits;

• Invasion of privacy or practical jokes which cause physical or psychological distress;

• Conduct that is derogatory, patronising, belittling or humiliating to others. 

Download the policy as a PDF.


Equality Impact Assessment completed

Date Approved 19.12.11

Approval Authority Diversity and Equality Committee

Date of Commencement

Amendment Dates

Date for Next Review

Related Policies, Procedures, Guidelines, Forms or Templates

Policies/Rules Superseded by this Policy Dignity at Work and Study Policy