Definition for Guidance
Infringement of dignity at work can take many forms and may be directed against persons of either sex, towards people because of their ethnic origin, age, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, or some other personal characteristic. It may involve action, behaviour, exclusion, comment or physical contact which is found objectionable or which causes offence and can result in the recipient feeling threatened, humiliated, intimidated, patronised, demoralised or undermining their confidence in their ability. It is for the person on the receiving end of any behaviour to decide whether he or she finds it unacceptable.
Examples of unacceptable conduct are as follows:
- Verbal abuse, or insulting behaviour.
- Sexist jokes, racist jokes, or jokes about an individual's sexual orientation*
- Unwanted physical contact ranging from touching to serious assault.
- Display or circulation of sexually suggestive or racially abusive material*
- Bullying, coercive or menacing behaviour.
- Ridicule or exclusion of an individual for cultural, political or religious differences.
- Searching through a colleague's desk contents without consent – except where this is necessary in relation to urgent work tasks.
*except where this is for legitimate educational reasons to aid learning. The reasons for the use of such material must be clearly discussed and explained to students.
What should I do if I experience Bullying or Harrassment?
The University of Winchester is committed to ensuring that it provides a safe and friendly environment for all staff, students and other visitors. If anyone experiences bullying or harassment of any kind, regardless of their gender or sexuality, they should refer to the Bullying and Harassment Policy.
If you would like to discuss an issue relating to dignity at work with someone, but would rather not speak to HR or your line manager, you can approach a Dignity at Work contact. They can talk through your concerns with you on a confidential basis and discuss possible options. The LGBTI Staff Support Network also provides confidential advice and support, whilst you may wish to discuss the issue confidentially with the University Equality Coordinator.
Staff may also choose to speak in confidence to the Dean of Faculty/Head of Department, a member of the Human Resources Department or a Trade Union Representative.
What is the Dignity At Work Network?
The Dignity at Work network exists as a means of supporting staff who feel that they are experiencing unacceptable behaviours from colleagues which negatively and disparagingly affects their sense of themselves as people and professionals. This may be in terms of workplace bullying, homophobic or sexist attitudes or behaviours or any other similar expressions of oppressive behaviour in the workplace. The network, through its Coordinator and team of volunteer Dignity Contacts drawn from across the University seeks to first and foremost offer initial advice help and support. It operates independently as an alternative means of support to the support available from the recognised trade unions and from Human Resources.
Dignity at Work Contacts
The University has a group of trained Dignity at Work Contacts, to whom a recipient of alleged harassment (or in certain circumstances the alleged perpetrator) can go and speak in complete confidence. Staff may choose to go to any one of these contacts – not necessarily the one in their own Faculty or Department. They are there to listen, and to offer help and support. Staff are encouraged to discuss the matter as early as possible with a Dignity at Work Contact. Speaking to a Dignity at Work Contact does not invoke formal action but will assist individuals by providing support and in considering options open to them.
The Contact may keep brief, confidential notes, but these will be personal to the Contact and will not be put on any University file.
Dignity at Work Coordinator Report
"In the academic year 2013/4 the Dignity at Work network was able to help a small but significant number of colleagues at the University to move towards and eventually resolve problems in the workplace concerning them and others. Dignity Contacts have worked with great care and time in supporting those colleagues who feel that they have experienced various forms of unacceptable behaviour in the workplace, albeit sometimes the consequence of unintended behaviours.
At the recent review of 2014 and the planning of Dignity initiatives for the academic year 2014/5 it was agreed that the Dignity Coordinator would:
- Post a request for invitation for new staff volunteers to join the existing team of Dignity Contacts.
- Contact the University Design Team to discuss the designing of a 'user-friendly' logo which would signal Dignity and its presence to all colleagues across the University.
- Begin initial exploratory consideration of the organising of a one day Dignity Symposium early on in 2015/6."
Peter Billingham, Dignity at Work Coordinator