A great place to work | Bullying and Harassment Policy

VerseOne is committed to providing a working environment free from bullying and harassment. We aim to ensure that all staff are treated, and treat others, with dignity and respect in all areas of employment practice and service delivery.

The policy sets out the responsibilities of VerseOne and its employees and applies equally to all employees, whether part time or full time, permanent or contract.

What constitutes harassment?

Harassment is any unwanted conduct that has the purpose or effect of violating a person's dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them. It also includes conduct of a sexual nature (sexual harassment).

A single incident can amount to harassment. A person may be harassed even if they were not the intended "target". Harassment also includes treating someone less favourably because they have submitted or refused to submit to such behaviour in the past.

It is unlawful under the Equality Act 2010 to harass a person because of their age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partner status, pregnancy or maternity, race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation.

VerseOne strongly believes that harassment is unacceptable even if it does not fall within any of these categories.

Examples of harassment include, but are not limited to:

  • unwanted physical conduct including touching, pinching, pushing and grabbing;
  • unwelcome sexual advances or suggestive behaviour;
  • offensive e-mails, text messages or social media content or the display of offensive materials;
  • unwanted jokes, banter, mocking, mimicking, or belittling a person.

What constitutes bullying?

Bullying is offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate, or injure the recipient.

Bullying can include the use of personal strength or the power to coerce through fear or intimidation, not necessarily from someone in a position of authority.

Bullying may be physical, verbal or non-verbal. It can include conduct that is not face-to-face, including via text message, email and social media.

Examples of bullying include:

  • physical or psychological threats;
  • overbearing and intimidating levels of supervision;
  • inappropriate derogatory remarks about a person or their performance;
  • shouting at staff;
  • persistently picking on people in front of others or in private;
  • blocking promotion and training opportunities;
  • regularly and deliberately ignoring or excluding staff from work activities or work related social events;
  • setting a person up to fail by overloading them with work or setting impossible deadlines;
  • regularly making the same person the butt of jokes.

Legitimate and reasonable criticism of a staff member’s performance or behaviour, or reasonable management instructions, do not amount to bullying.

VerseOne’s commitment

No form of intimidation, bullying or harassment will be tolerated. If an individual believes that they have been subjected to bullying or have suffered harassment they should consider the appropriateness and feasibility of an informal resolution by discussion in the first instance with their line manager and/or the HR team.

An individual may also decide to raise the matter through VerseOne’s Grievance Policy. All allegations regarding potential breaches of this policy will be investigated and treated with strictest confidence. Any employee who is found to have breached this policy may be subject to disciplinary action under VerseOne’s Discipline Policy.

All employees are responsible for not victimising or attempting to victimise individuals on the grounds that they have made complaints or provided information on discriminatory practice.

Managers are responsible for ensuring:

  1. all employees are aware of this policy and their responsibilities within it;
  2. his policy is implemented in all areas of employment, including recruiting and selecting staff as outlined by the Equality Act 2010;
  3. transparent, fair and equitable decision making on promotion, pay rise or incremental pay increases and staff development;
  4. company policies and procedures are applied with an understanding of the application of human rights, equality and diversity in this context;
  5. harassment, bullying and victimisation are dealt with swiftly, fairly and assertively – ensuring appropriate responses to the types of harassment and bullying behaviour which occurs in reference to each respective protected characteristic e.g. an appropriate response to homophobic bullying or harassment may differ from the response required for sexist bullying or harassment;
  6. reported incidents of harassment, bullying or discrimination by customers or visitors towards a member of staff are dealt with equally swiftly, fairly and assertively — ensuring that staff are supported and the matter is dealt with fairly and transparently;
  7. he complaints made under this policy are dealt with in a fair and consistent manner.

Scope of this policy

This policy applies to all conduct in the workplace and conduct outside the workplace that is related to work (e.g meetings, social events and interactions with colleagues) or which may impact or reflect on VerseOne’s reputation this includes but is not limited to expressions of views on social media and in written communication.

Measurement and management of this policy

In addition to fostering a culture of openness and transparency where employees feel empowered to report any incidents of bullying and harassment, VerseOne also:

  1. notes and discusses any reported incidents at its monthly board meetings;
  2. conducts fair and transparent appraisals;
  3. ensures each employee has a one to one confidential conversation with HR on a monthly basis or as may be needed, giving them the opportunity to raise any issues and/or concerns.

Review of this policy

In line with VerseOne’s ISO9001 Quality Standards, we are committed to undertaking a formal review of this policy annually or as may be dictated by legislative or other considerations.

[Ref:VO-ISO-BH-POL-1.0 (2022-02-09)]