Harassment and bullying at work are totally unacceptable and require firm action by employers, employees and trade unions.
It can result in difficult working conditions, undermine health and safety, and produce feelings of isolation, despair and even fear. In extreme circumstances it can lead to school staff leaving a workplace or even leaving the profession altogether.
The NEU takes harassment and bullying at work very seriously, both as an equality and a health and safety issue for staff and pupils. The NEU’s code of professional conduct for members deems it to be unprofessional conduct: “Members should not discriminate against, harass or make any discriminatory or offensive remarks against others, including in particular, colleagues and pupils, on grounds of race, nationality, colour, ethnic or national origin, disability, gender, sex, marital status, transgender status, sexual orientation, or religion, religious belief or similar philosophical belief; and further, members should not harass, discriminate or make discriminatory remarks against others on grounds of age, class, caring responsibilities or other status or personal characteristic in circumstances in which such discrimination may objectively be considered unfair.”
Bullying is a form of indiscriminate harassment, not necessarily linked to any of the above factors, but equally unacceptable. This document will be of value to school representatives, safety reps and local officers. Harassment and bullying of school staff can be tackled effectively with NEU support and solidarity among staff. A strong NEU presence in schools, together with co-operation between unions, is the key to securing a supportive and non-threatening working environment.
Workplace harassment and bullying policies
The NEU believes employers should develop policies and procedures, in consultation with unions, to deal with harassment and bullying of staff by colleagues, managers, pupils and parents.
It believes workplace harassment and bullying policies should:
- prohibit harassment and bullying.
- contain clear definitions of what constitutes harassment and bullying.
- explain how issues can be raised by individual employees and what will happen.
- encourage reporting of all incidents and make staff aware of their entitlements and rights.
- set out the responsibility of managers and employers to address the issue.
- explain what support is available to staff who feel they are being harassed or bullied.
- make links where appropriate to whole school policies on equality.
The union has prepared a model harassment and bullying policy with an accompanying checklist to assist in negotiations and to ascertain if an employer’s policy is acceptable.