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Respect and Dignity at Work Policy and Grievance Procedure

1. Policy Definitions

1.1 Harassment

Harassment of one employee by another is defined as unwelcome acts or conduct of an offensive nature that includes spoken words, gestures and the production, display or circulation of written words, pictures or other material. It is harassment if the action or conduct is unwelcome to the recipient and could reasonably be regarded as such in relation to: gender, marital status, family status, sexual orientation, religious belief, age, disability, race and membership or non-membership of the traveller community, as offensive, humiliating or intimidating to that person.

Harassment also includes:

1.2 Sexual Harassment

Sexual Harassment is any act, request or conduct unwelcome to the recipient, which could reasonably be regarded as sexually, or otherwise on the gender ground, offensive, humiliating or intimidating to the recipient.

Sexual Harassment includes :

Conduct of this nature is sexual harassment if it is unwelcome to an employee and could reasonably be regarded as resulting from the employee's gender or if it is sexually offensive, humiliating or intimidating.

1.3 Bullying Behaviour

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 the above definition may be an affront to dignity at work but as a once off incident is not considered to be bullying.

Bullying behaviour includes:

2. Policy of the Fisheries Boards

The Central & Regional Fisheries Boards are committed to providing a working environment free of all forms of harassment and bullying for its employees. The objective of the policy is to ensure that, fundamental to the concept of equality and respect for others in the workplace, employees must be free from any activity or behaviour that adversely affects the dignity of the staff of the Fisheries Boards.

Poor development of individuals strengths and skills and poor communication of information to and between staff can be the root cause of loss of dignity at work and enable bullying and harassment to arise. In order to counteract this, the Fisheries Boards support development of the staff's inter personal skills, in particular, developing individual strengths and abilities and communication skills.

Employees subjected to harassment or bullying will be able to seek advice, support and counselling in total confidence. A designated contact person will be available in each Board to provide advice and assistance such as offering guidance on resolving harassment/bullying problems, assistance in submitting a grievance if the employee wishes to complain informally or formally, and to provide counselling.

3. Dealing with a Problem

3.1 Speak to the person

In most cases the most effective and efficient way of dealing with a problem or potential problem is for the person who feels bullied or harassed to speak directly with the person(s) engaging in the inappropriate behaviour as quickly as possible. It is important to explain to the persons(s) that their behaviour is inappropriate, unwelcome, improper or offensive. The person(s) concerned should be asked to stop the behaviour. They may not have realised the nature or effect of what they were doing or had done. However, if this fails, or if it proves too difficult to do, Fisheries Board procedures, both informal and formal are in place to facilitate the resolution of the problem.

3.2 Recording of complaint

No record of a complaint shall be entered in an employee's personnel file unless the matter is dealt with under the disciplinary procedure.

4. Progressing a complaint

It is important to be aware that any member of staff/management who become aware of a problem/potential problem has a duty of care to deal with the matter, as appropriate, under this policy.

A complaint of harassment/bullying should, first of all, be brought to the attention of the immediate supervisor/head of function. If for any reason, this is not appropriate, the complaint can be progressed by making contact with any of the persons listed below :

In making a complaint it is important to record any incident, such as where, when, and what took place, any witnesses and copies of any written material.

5. Informal Procedures

An employee may wish to take an informal approach to resolve the problem with the minimum of conflict/disharmony. The informal process will be as quick, confidential and sensitive as possible.

  1. The informal procedure firstly involves discussion of the problem between the complainant and the Fisheries Board person to whom the complainant has reported his/her concern to (i.e. designated contact person, ACEO, CEO, Equality Officer CFB, Director of HR CFB)
  2. With the complainants' permission, discussions are held with the relevant parties, facilitated by the Fisheries Board person whom the complainant has asked to handle the complaint. Where appropriate, the Fisheries Board person handling the complaint has authority to involve the relevant management and others in order to deal with the problem
  3. No detailed formal record will be maintained of proceedings carried out in this process
  4. Review meeting(s) to prevent recurrence and ensure the issue remains resolved to the complainant's satisfaction shall be an integral part of the process
  5. Counselling will be arranged for either party at any stage, if required
  6. At any time the complainant may choose to pursue the complaint under formal procedures.

6. Formal Procedures

Formal investigations will be undertaken as sensitively, quickly and confidentially as possible while ensuring fairness to all parties involved.

  1. An allegation will be considered formal if it is received in written format or by statement/complaint prepared on behalf of the complainant. The complainant must endorse the complaint
  2. The C.E.O. of the Fisheries Board will appoint an Investigator(s) to carry out an investigation in response to a formal allegation of harassment/bullying. If, for whatever reason, the C.E.O. is not the appropriate person to appoint an Investigator(s), the Director of H.R. will make such appointment, which will include an external Investigator. The investigation process will be supported, as appropriate, by the C.E.O., the Equality Officer, the Director of HR and the HR Development Manager
  3. The person(s) complained of will be notified in writing of the complainants' allegations and will be afforded an opportunity to reply
  4. The investigation panel will include the Equality Officer, other internal trained investigators and, at the Fisheries Board's discretion, an external investigator. Every effort will be made to accommodate the concerns of the parties involved in formulating the Investigation Panel. This panel will hold meeting(s) with the complainant(s), the employee(s) complained of, and witnesses, as appropriate.
  5. The investigation should be completed and the report furnished at the earliest possible date and in any event within 3 months, unless there are exceptional circumstances causing delay
  6. An appropriate representative may accompany the complainant, employee(s) complained of and witnesses at all meetings with the investigating panel
  7. The investigation panel are to be provided with copies of any documents that it requests.
  8. A copy of the final report of the investigation panel shall be submitted to the relevant CEO and the Director of HR
  9. All relevant parties who participate in the investigation will be issued with a copy of the findings
  10. If the Investigator(s) make a finding that the complaint is substantiated or otherwise considered well founded, the matter will be referred to the industrial relations process and the Fisheries Boards' disciplinary procedure will be invoked.
  11. If the Investigator(s) make a finding that the complaint was untrue, reckless or malicious, the matter will be referred through the normal industrial relations process and the Fisheries Boards' disciplinary procedure will be invoked.
  12. The Investigator(s) may make a finding that the complaint was not reckless or malicious and that disciplinary action is not appropriate. In such cases the outcome could result in training, counselling and a period of monitoring and appraisal. If the period of appraisal is not satisfactory, then the disciplinary procedure may be invoked. No record of a complaint shall be entered in an employee’s personnel file unless the matter is dealt with under the disciplinary procedure
  13. Counselling will be arranged at any stage, if required. Such counselling will be confidential to the parties involved.

7. Protection of the Complainant

Allegations of harassment/bullying will be treated seriously at all stages. It can happen that complainants of harassment/bullying can suffer most as a result of the complaint e.g. by being made feel disloyal or having offensive or demoralising incidents or personal trauma trivialised. The Fisheries Boards will take all necessary steps to prevent this occurrence.

The victim(s) of harassment/bullying will not suffer as a result of making a complaint e.g. by means of intimidation, reduced promotional prospects or transfer.

Victimisation of an employee for seeking redress, opposing unlawful acts, giving evidence in proceedings or giving notice of intention to do any of the above is illegal under equality legislation.

Complaints will be handled seriously and with full regard to the dignity of all concerned and in the strictest confidence at all stages.

8. Appeal

Employee(s) have a right to appeal against the outcome of the investigation. Such an appeal must be lodged within two weeks of being informed of the results of the investigation. The outcome of the appeal will be decided and notified to the relevant parties within a further three months.

9. Discipline

In deciding appropriate action, full cognisance will be taken of the feelings and sensitivities of the victim. Where allegations are substantiated within this Formal Procedure, any penalty imposed will be appropriate to the gravity of the conduct involved and may result in the dismissal of the employee whom the complaint is proven against.

10. Continuous Review and Evaluation

This policy requires the commitment, analysis, action and monitoring of all employees of the Fisheries Boards in order to achieve its objectives. The policy will continually be reviewed and updated to ensure compliance with legislation and/or other Fisheries Boards’ policies & procedures, but in any case no later than three yearly intervals.

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