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How to develop a Dignity at Work Policy

How to develop a Dignity at Work Policy

Date published on: 07/04/2021

The issues of bullying and harassment can cause serious concern for employers so it is important to have a Dignity at Work Policy in place to create a working environment that is free from such issues and outline clearly what is not acceptable behaviour in the workplace. 

The promotion of dignity at work recognises the right of every employee to be treated with dignity and respect and ensure they are provided with a safe working environment that is free from all forms of bullying, sexual harassment and harassment.

The Code of Practice defines workplace bullying as:
“Workplace Bullying is repeated inappropriate behaviour, direct or indirect, whether verbal, physical or otherwise, conducted by one or more persons against another or others, at the place of work and/or in the course of employment, which could reasonably be regarded as undermining the individual’s right to dignity at work. An isolated incident of the behaviour described in this definition may be an affront to dignity at work but, as a once off incident, is not considered to be bullying.”

While harassment is defined as:
“Any act of conduct which is unwelcome and offensive, humiliating or intimidating on a discriminatory ground including spoken words, gestures, or the production, display or circulation of written material or pictures”.

Every employer needs to be aware that it is their responsibility to provide a workplace free from bullying and harassment.

Steps to prepare a Dignity at Work policy

The objectives of a Dignity at Work policy should be to:

  • Increase awareness on the prevention of bullying and harassment

  • Encourage good communication so that concerns can be raised without fear

  • Set standards for acceptable behaviour

  • Outline everyone’s individual responsibility to inform themselves of the policy and their responsibility to resolve matters as and when they arise as quickly and as confidentially as possible

  • Provide both informal and formal methods of resolution

  • Promote an environment in which diversity is respected.

To achieve these objectives, organisations should consider the following when developing their Dignity at Work policy:

  • A clear, strong statement of commitment from senior management

  • Statement that bullying and harassment in the workplace will not be tolerated

  • Examples of unacceptable behaviour

  • Measures the organisation takes to prevent bullying and harassment

  • Outline the responsibilities of all employees in the promotion of a bully-free workplace, whether during the working day or at any work-related events, whether on or off-site

  • Outline the formal and informal procedures to address complaints/ allegations of bullying and harassment – the employee making the complaint should have the option of which route they want to pursue and complaints should be investigated as quickly as possible and in complete confidence

  • The policy should also apply to customers, suppliers or contractors that come in contact with employees

Training is also essential; line managers play an important role in fostering a positive working environment and have the ability to deal with potential issues before they escalate. Line managers should be trained on all organisational policies, particularly if a delicate problem or complaint arises.

Where allegations of bullying and harassment do arise consideration should be given to utilising informal methods to address such complaints. Mediation for example is one option to consider as means to resolve complaints which are made. Currently, when utilised, it is inclined to be used as a belated suggested alternative to formal investigation or the threat of external legal action.
We also advocate that organisations conduct some form of training or an awareness campaign around what constitutes bullying and harassment on an annual basis to ensure awareness among all employees.
A new Code of Practice concerning the prevention and resolution of bullying at work has been made by way of a statutory instrument published on 5th January 2021. The Statutory Instrument is No. 674/2020 entitled-Industrial Relations Act 1990 (Code of Practice for Employers and Employees on the Prevention and Resolution of Bullying at Work) Order 2020.

If your organisation is looking to develop a Dignity at Work policy, please contact one of our team today for further advice and guidance.