Bullying and Harassment

The RNCM has a zero tolerance policy to bullying and harassment.

We believe that every member of staff has the right to work in a supportive environment, free from harassment, bullying and victimisation. Similarly, every student at the RNCM has the right to study and be taught in an environment that is supportive and free from harassment, bullying and victimisation.

Our policies on Dignity at Work (staff) and Bullying and Harassment (students) explain the standards of behaviour the RNCM expects from its staff and students. It also tells you what you should do if you feel you’re being bullied, harassed or victimised, or if you witness any inappropriate behaviour.

All staff must treat colleagues/staff/students/customers with courtesy and respect, and not participate in, or condone, any act of harassment, bullying or victimisation. We expect everyone to be familiar with the RNCM Codes of Conduct.

You can read more about bullying, harassment and victimisation below. If you’re a member of staff and would like to view the Dignity at Work training, please contact HR on ext 439 or email human.resources@rncm.ac.uk.

What is bullying?

Bullying is offensive, intimidating, malicious, insulting or humiliating behaviour, often associated with the misuse of power or authority, which aims to undermine, humiliate or injure the person on the receiving end. It is different from the way you feel when you are under pressure, or when you make a mistake and are legitimately called to account for this in private.

Examples of bullying are:

  • You are singled out for criticism when others have made the same mistake
  • Criticism is not constructive and does not help you improve
  • Criticism is in public and deliberately humiliating
  • You are set targets that are known to be unachievable
  • You are physically abused

What is not bullying:

  • Acting assertively
  • Requesting someone to amend their behaviour
  • Disagreeing with someone point of view
  • Making a single critical remark about another person (provided it is not classed as racist, sexist etc.)
  • A single instance of behaviour which is not repeated.

 

What is Harassment?

Harassment is unwanted conduct that violates your dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for you, having regard to all the circumstances including your perception of the conduct. The behaviour may be intentional which is obvious or violent but it can also be unintentional or subtle and insidious. Examples are:

  • Sexual harassment: unwelcome comments, jokes, innuendo, teasing and verbal abuse; displaying sexually suggestive material; unwelcome comments on your dress, appearance or marital status; condemnation or ridicule of you because of your sexual orientation; unwelcome physical contact.
  • Racial harassment: conduct or comments based on race, colour or ethnicity which is offensive to you (or others); derogatory remarks or jokes; display of racially offensive material or graffiti; deliberate isolation.
  • Personal harassment: inappropriate comments about your disability, socio-economic group, sexual orientation, religion or any other form of personal victimisation.

What is Victimisation?

Victimisation is treating you (or others) less favourably than other people because you have, in good faith, complained that someone has been bullying or harassing you or someone else, or where you have supported someone else who has made a complaint. This includes isolating you (or someone else) or giving you more/worse work because you have made a complaint.

Support for Students

Key Contacts

There are a number of ways you can report a concern. Our key contacts at the RNCM are:

Jane Gray
Assistant Head of Registry (Wellbeing)
E jane.gray@rncm.ac.uk

Dominic Wood
Environment and Operations Manager
E dominic.wood@rncm.ac.uk

Alice Flannery
RNCM Students’ Union President
alice.flannery@student.rncm.ac.uk

Ruth Owens
RNCM Students’ Union Welfare Officer
ruth.owens@student.rncm.ac.uk

Sarah D’Ardenne
Head of Library Services
E sarah.dardenne@rncm.ac.uk

Geoff Thomason
Deputy Librarian
geoff.thomason@rncm.ac.uk

Toni-Ann La-Crette

Senior Assistant Librarian
E toni-ann.la-crette@rncm.ac.uk

For further information, please visit our RNCM Zero campaign.

Students being bullied or harassed by another student

If possible, you should make it clear to the person causing the offence that you find the behaviour unacceptable and ask them to stop.  It may be helpful to talk to a member of staff, the Students’ Union, Student Welfare Officer or counselling service before approaching the person.  If you prefer, they may be able to talk to the person on your behalf. More detail is found in the policy.

Personal resolution

Step 1

Where appropriate, you should consider ways in which you can resolve the situation yourself, by making it clear that you find the behaviour offensive and want it to stop.  You might consider, if you feel comfortable to do so, to:

  • Talk to person responsible for the behaviour – sometimes telling someone that their behaviour is upsetting is all that is needed. It may be that they were unaware that their behaviour was inappropriate or that you would find it upsetting.
  • Write to the person responsible for the behaviour – if you don’t feel able to confront the person then you could send an email or text message explaining politely but firmly why you are upset and what behaviours you would like to stop. Keep a record of any message and the response you receive, if any.
  • Ask for support – ask another student or member of staff to come with you if you feel able to speak to the person responsible directly.

Step 2

If the allegation is serious or you feel too unsafe or uncomfortable to make contact with the person responsible for the behaviour, you should follow the local resolution stage or make a formal complaint, in the case of a very serious allegation or sexual harassment.

Local resolution

Step 1

If the situation does not improve following an attempt at a personal resolution, or if you find it impossible to raise the issue personally, or if the allegation is more serious, you should contact a member of staff who you feel able to discuss the situation with.  This could be the Deputy Head of Registry, or if you would rather talk to someone else:

  • Your tutor or Course Leader
  • Your Head of School
  • The Student Wellbeing Advisor
  • A member of staff from the Registry
  • A Students’ Union representative

Step 2

You may choose to be accompanied by a Students’ Union representative, or another student when meeting with any of the people above.  In your meeting with them you should, if you feel comfortable to do so, discuss details, dates, times, circumstances and witnesses of the behaviour that you were subjected to, including any ways in which the incidents have affected you.

The focus at this stage continues to be on facilitating a local resolution, and will not in itself result in any further formal internal investigation or disciplinary action.

Step 3

Action taken by the person you discuss the complaint with is likely to include approaching the alleged harasser to give them the opportunity to give their perspective on the situation, either with you present if you feel comfortable to do this, or in your absence.  The alleged harasser may be accompanied to any meeting by a Students’ Union representative or another student.

Formal complaint

Where informal resolution is not appropriate (for example because of the seriousness of the allegations), or is not requested, or where the outcome has been unsatisfactory, you may bring a formal complaint. A thorough investigation will take place and, where possible, will remain confidential, although you must understand that it is often not possible to safeguard confidentiality.

Step 1

You should seek advice from the Head of Registry or Students’ Union before submitting a formal written complaint to the Head of Registry detailing the incident(s) with specific examples of the unacceptable behaviour to which they believe they are being/ have been subjected, noting the date, time and place of the incident(s), what was said or done, the context in which it was said or done, how it made you feel and what action, if any, was taken.  The names of any witnesses should be noted.  You should also outline the actions they have taken to address the matter informally, if this has been possible or appropriate.

Step 2

The Head of Registry will nominate an appropriate, independent senior manager(s) to meet with you and hear your complaint. The senior manager(s) will interview any other relevant parties involved in the complaint and attempt to resolve the issue and agree a way forward, examples of which are:

  • The issue is resolved to the satisfaction of all concerned
  • Training or development needs are identified
  • A recommendation is made to refer the matter to the College’s disciplinary procedures for students (Student Conduct and Discipline Policy)
  • Other appropriate recommendations, depending upon circumstances.

Step 3

Once the complaint has been fully investigated and necessary meetings held, you will be informed of the outcome in writing by the Head of Registry normally within 14 working days.  The person or persons the complaint has been made about will also be informed of the outcome.  If disciplinary action is required, the outcome will normally remain confidential for legal reasons.

Right of appeal under the formal complaint process

If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of any of the College’s formal processes you have the right of appeal.  If you wish to appeal, you should, within 10 working days of the date of the letter advising of the outcome of the formal process, write to the Head of Registry outlining the reason for appeal which will be considered by the Director of Finance and Strategic Planning (or nominee).

You may consider an appeal because, for example:

  • you believe the finding is unfair
  • new evidence has come to light
  • you believe the process was incorrectly followed.

Students being bullied or harassed by a member of staff

Talk to a different member of staff, the Students’ Union, Student Welfare Officer or counselling service.  If you prefer, they may be able to talk to the person on your behalf. More detail is found in the policy.

Local resolution

Step 1

If you find it impossible to raise the issue personally, or if the allegation is more serious, you should contact a member of staff who you feel able to discuss the situation with.  This could be the Deputy Head of Registry, or if you would rather talk to someone else:

  • Your tutor or Course Leader
  • Your Head of School
  • The Student Wellbeing Advisor
  • A member of staff from the Registry
  • A Students’ Union representative

Step 2

You may choose to be accompanied by a Students’ Union representative, or another student when meeting with any of the people above.  In your meeting with them you should, if you feel comfortable to do so, discuss details, dates, times, circumstances and witnesses of the behaviour that you were subjected to, including any ways in which the incidents have affected you.

The focus at this stage continues to be on facilitating a local resolution, and will not in itself result in any further formal internal investigation or disciplinary action.

Step 3

Action taken by the person you discuss the complaint with is likely to include approaching the alleged harasser to give them the opportunity to give their perspective on the situation, either with you present if you feel comfortable to do this, or in your absence.  The alleged harasser may be accompanied to any meeting by a colleague.

Formal complaint

Where informal resolution is not appropriate (for example because of the seriousness of the allegations), or is not requested, or where the outcome has been unsatisfactory, you may bring a formal complaint. A thorough investigation will take place and, where possible, will remain confidential, although you must understand that it is often not possible to safeguard confidentiality.

Step 1

You should seek advice from the Head of Registry or Students’ Union before submitting a formal written complaint to the Head of Registry detailing the incident(s) with specific examples of the unacceptable behaviour to which they believe they are being/ have been subjected, noting the date, time and place of the incident(s), what was said or done, the context in which it was said or done, how it made you feel and what action, if any, was taken.  The names of any witnesses should be noted.  You should also outline the actions they have taken to address the matter informally, if this has been possible or appropriate.

Step 2

The Head of Registry will nominate an appropriate, independent senior manager(s) to meet with you and hear your complaint. The senior manager(s) will interview any other relevant parties involved in the complaint and attempt to resolve the issue and agree a way forward, examples of which are:

  • The issue is resolved to the satisfaction of all concerned
  • Training or development needs are identified
  • A recommendation is made to refer the matter to the College’s disciplinary procedures for staff (Disciplinary Policy)
  • Other appropriate recommendations, depending upon circumstances.

Step 3

Once the complaint has been fully investigated and necessary meetings held, you will be informed of the outcome in writing by the Head of Registry normally within 14 working days.  The person or persons the complaint has been made about will also be informed of the outcome.  If disciplinary action is required, the outcome will normally remain confidential for legal reasons.

Right of appeal under the formal complaint process

If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of any of the College’s formal processes you have the right of appeal.  If you wish to appeal, you should, within 10 working days of the date of the letter advising of the outcome of the formal process, write to the Head of Registry outlining the reason for appeal which will be considered by the Director of Finance and Strategic Planning (or nominee).

You may consider an appeal because, for example:

  • you believe the finding is unfair
  • new evidence has come to light
  • you believe the process was incorrectly followed.

Support for Staff

Staff being bullied, harassed or victimised by another member of staff

If you believe you’re being bullied, harassed or victimised by another member of staff, there is a process outlined in the RNCM policy on Dignity at Work (‘the policy’), which is summarised below. Wherever you find yourself in the process, you should seek support from your Line Manager, HR or your trade union representative.

Step 1

If this is a person who has management responsibility for you, consider whether this behaviour could be standard management practice. Bullying and harassment are more than a ‘firm’ management style. Positive, clear management action which relates to conduct or performance or legitimate operational needs, providing this action is taken in a fair and consistent way and in line with RNCM policies, does not constitute bullying or harassment.

Similarly, a manager may sometimes make a decision or issue an instruction which a member of staff considers unreasonable. If such action does not fall within the definitions of bullying, harassment or victimisation, as described in previous pages, the member of staff may still have a legitimate grievance, however, this would need to be pursued under the RNCM’s normal grievance procedures. These procedures take into account the fact that a manager will sometimes have to take action or make a decision which staff may not agree with (if, for example, this action or decision is in the best interests of the RNCM or of the school/department/team concerned) and balance this fact with the individual circumstances of the case.

Step 2
If your colleague’s behaviour isn’t standard management/learning and teaching practice, would you feel comfortable trying to resolve the issue informally? Section 5.1 of the policy will give you some ideas on how to go about this.

Step 3
If you don’t feel you can resolve the issue informally, or you’ve already tried and this didn’t work, would you consider mediation? HR can arrange mediation if you think this would be helpful.

Step 4
If you’re not comfortable trying mediation, or it hasn’t resolved the issue, the next step is to submit an informal complaint.  Section 5.1 will tell you how to do this.

Step 5
If your informal complaint hasn’t resolved the issue, the final step in the process is to submit a formal complaint through the RNCM’s grievance procedures.  The grievance policy advises how to go about this. Your complaint will be investigated fairly and thoroughly by a trained investigator.

If you need help, support, advice or clarification throughout any of the process, please don’t hesitate to contact HR.

Staff being bullied, harassed or victimised by a student

If you believe you’re being bullied, harassed or victimised by a student, the process to be followed is broadly the same as for dealing with a complaint against a member of staff. This is summarised below.  Wherever you find yourself in the process, you should seek support from your Line Manager or HR.

Step 1
Do you feel comfortable trying to resolve the issue informally? Section 5.1 of the policy will give you some ideas on how to go about this.

Step 2
If you don’t feel you can resolve the issue informally, or you’ve already tried and this didn’t work, you should discuss the matter with your Line Manager or Head of School/Programme/Department to help you liaise with the student (or they could on your behalf).

Step 3
If discussion with your line Manager or Head of School/Programme/Department has not helped to resolve the issue, you should submit a formal complaint in writing through the RNCM’s disciplinary regulations.

If you need help, support, advice or clarification throughout any of the process, please don’t hesitate to contact HR.

Additional Support

Support is also available from your Line Manager, HR, or you can contact CareFirst, our employee assistance programme provider. You may also find this advice from ACAS helpful.