Please enable JavaScript in your browser Discipline, Grievance, Harassment, Whistleblowing and Investigation Procedures
   Personnel Handbook

Discipline, Grievance, Harassment, Whistleblowing and Investigation Procedures

Overview of Disciplinary, Grievance, Harassment, Whistleblowing, Dismissal and Investigation Procedures
  1. Disciplinary Procedures
  2. Grievance Procedures
  3. Harassment Procedures
  4. Whistleblowing Procedures
  5. Investigation Procedures

Section 6.0

OVERVIEW OF DISCIPLINARY, GRIEVANCE, HARASSMENT, WHISTLEBLOWING, DISMISSAL AND INVESTIGATION PROCEDURES

1. Introduction

The University is committed to operating in a way that enables all members of staff to gain personal and professional satisfaction from their work and to contribute to the successful development of the University as a whole.

Occasionally, however, an individual or the University may act in a way which the other feels is not appropriate or individuals may act towards each other in a way which gives one or more of them concerns. To help deal with these situations the University has agreed a number of individual procedures with its recognised Trades Unions and the Management Common Interest Group.

This section of the Handbook gives an overview of the individual Disciplinary, Grievance, Harassment, Whistleblowing, Investigation and Dismissal Procedures. A number of common elements apply across these Procedures. They are not normally repeated in the individual procedures. It is, therefore, essential that this Section and the relevant individual procedure(s) are taken together.

The detailed individual procedures put into effect a number of requirements given in the Articles of Association of the Company being the University. In any conflict between an element of an individual procedure and the Articles of Association the Articles of Association will have precedence.

The University, as employer, is ultimately responsible for the operation of the procedures. If agreement on necessary variations in individual cases (eg revised timescales) is not possible then the University may need to make a unilateral change in the way an individual procedure is operated. It is recognised that any such change will not be with the agreement of the Trades Unions, and its reasonableness may be challenged at a subsequent hearing and/or Employment Tribunal.

All procedures operate within the legal framework for dispute resolution, including the relevant ACAS Code(s) and, where appropriate, the Public Information Disclosure Act.

2. General Principles

The general principles which apply to all of the individual procedures are to:

  1. seek to resolve matters informally through discussion as close as possible to the source of the issue;
  2. keep the procedures as straightforward as possible;
  3. ensure that all those directly involved have an opportunity to be heard, to present their concerns and to respond to the concerns of others;
  4. use mediation wherever appropriate;
  5. adopt an investigatory (rather than adversarial) approach;
  6. provide for timely outcomes;
  7. provide for an independent appeal;
  8. provide an opportunity for one appeal against the outcome of an individual procedure;
  9. provide independence in hearings and appeals (avoiding conflict of interest);
  10. ensure that where suspension may be required that the time that an individual is suspended is kept to a minimum.

There are other processes within contractual agreements within this Handbook which have provision for ‘fast track’ resolution of problems, including a hearing and in some cases separate appeal processes. The same principles of one hearing and one appeal will apply across all procedures.

3. Individual Procedures

The Disciplinary Procedures (Section 6.1) and Dismissal Procedures (Section 9.1) cover areas where the University has concerns about the behaviour or conduct of an individual member of staff or employment is to end for other reasons. Concerns about the ability of an individual to carry out his/her duties must be addressed through the Capability Procedures (Section 1.18) in the first instance.

The Grievance Procedures (Section 6.2) apply where an individual has concerns about the action of the University.

The Harassment Procedures (Section 6.3) apply where an individual has concerns about the behaviour of another individual or group of individuals.

The Whistleblowing Procedures (Section 6.4) provide a way for an individual to report wrongdoing by other individuals or the University.

The Investigation Procedures(Section 6.5) provide a common framework for investigations carried out under any of the individual procedures.

Both the Harassment and Whistleblowing Procedures are supported by specific policy statements (Harassment and Bullying Policy, Appendix 13.18 and Whistleblowing Policy, Appendix 13.11).

There are ‘fast track’ arrangements within the Avoidance of Redundancy Procedure (Section 12.1); the arrangements for the determination of the duties of academic staff (Section 1.7); Grading, Regrading and Progression (Section 2.5); Placement on Salary Scales and Spine Points (Section 2.9).

All sections and appendices above are in this Handbook.

4. General Structure of Individual Procedures

The general structure of the individual procedures is:

  1. Stage 1 – Informal;
  2. Stage 2 – Formal (if not resolved at Stage 1);
  3. Stage 3 – Appeal (if not resolved at Stage 2).

Appeals normally take the form of a rehearing of the matter.

Full details of the stages are given in the individual procedures.

5. Common Elements of Individual Procedures

  1. Normal timescales are given in the individual procedures. All involved agree to do their best to meet these timescales, and where variations are needed these will, ideally, be mutually agreed. This decision may be challenged at a subsequent hearing and any consequences of the change will be taken into account in the outcome of the hearing.
  2. Managers must consult the Head of Personnel and Staff Development or Director (HR) before any actions are taken at Stage 2 or 3.
  3. The Head of Personnel and Staff Development is responsible to the Director (HR) for the operation of these procedures.
  4. If, at any point, the Director (HR) considers that the actions of any of the principal parties are frivolous, malicious or vexatious then the application of the procedures will be discontinued. If the party involved disagrees with this determination he/she may ask for it to be reviewed by a member of the Directorate appointed by the Vice-Chancellor.
  5. These procedures identify a number of responsibilities of individual post holders. References to Head of Personnel and Staff Development should be taken as references to ‘Head of Personnel and Staff Development or nominee’. It the case of the Director (HR) another member of the Directorate may substitute for the Director (HR) if required.
  6. In general those responsible for making determinations will be holders of posts of at least equal grade to the most senior of the parties involved. For this purpose all members of the Directorate are regarded as of equivalent seniority.
  7. It may be desirable to separate the parties during an investigation and/or make alternative arrangements for communication channels and line management reporting. This will depend on the circumstances of each case.
  8. In the interests of natural justice, it will be the responsibility of any person involved to declare any conflict of interest and, if appropriate, alternative arrangements will be made.
  9. If a member of staff is on sick leave then the timescales given in the individual procedures will normally be suspended. Contact will be maintained with the individual as appropriate to allow progression of the matter. The welfare of other members of staff will be given due consideration.

6. Inter-relationship of Individual Procedures

The chart summarises the interrelationship between the various procedures.

Effective date: 3 June 2008


Section 6.1

DISCIPLINARY PROCEDURES

1. Introduction

This agreement is between the University of Gloucestershire as the employer and the recognised Trades Unions and Management Common Interest Group of the University on the procedures to be followed where a member of staff's work, conduct or omission are such as to warrant disciplinary action.

These procedures have been established in accordance with statutory requirements and take account of ACAS guidance. It is agreed that the parties to the agreement will use their best endeavours to ensure that the spirit and intention of the procedures are honoured at all times.

It is recognised by the parties to this agreement that discipline is essential for the conduct of the University’s affairs and for the safety and well-being of all members of staff. It is equally the intent of the parties that disciplinary action be considered and applied fairly and equitably. These procedures should be viewed primarily as a means of emphasising and encouraging improvements in individual conduct rather than as a means of imposing sanctions.

These procedures must be read in conjunction with Section 6.0 in this Handbook, which includes an introduction to the procedures and details of principles and common elements which apply to this and other dispute resolution procedures.

2. Objectives

The objectives of these disciplinary procedures are to:

  1. foster good working relationships by providing a mechanism for the timely resolution of disciplinary matters;
  2. resolve matters through informal means wherever possible;
  3. resolve matters as near as possible to their point of origin.

3. General matters

These matters have been placed in alphabetical order.

  1. Confidentiality and electronic transmission: All documentation related to meetings will be treated in a confidential manner, and use of electronic transmission for confidential personal information should be avoided.
  2. Day to Day Management: These procedures do not cover matters related to normal day to day management of members of staff, which may include the giving of guidance on performance and behaviour.
  3. Disciplinary Action Against Trade Unions Officers: Disciplinary action will not be taken against an accredited union steward/representative or safety representative until the circumstances of the case have been discussed with the full-time official of the union concerned. However, in exceptional circumstances involving a case of gross misconduct, if the full-time official is not available it may be necessary to act immediately. In this event, it must be discussed with the full-time official of the appropriate union before a decision to dismiss is made.
  4. Disciplinary Matters and Staff Complaints: Matters which are being considered under the Grievance Procedures may not be raised under these Disciplinary Procedures until consideration under the Grievance Procedures has been concluded. Disciplinary and Grievance processes may operate in parallel when the issues involved are not directly related.
  5. First Offence and Gross Misconduct: An employee will only be dismissed for a first offence if there is a finding of gross misconduct and it is decided that dismissal is the appropriate response, rather than a lesser outcome such as a final warning.
  6. Ill-Health Issues: Where it appears that ill-health may have affected the employee's conduct or performance, this must be referred to Head of Personnel and Staff Development before any decision is taken to use these Disciplinary Procedures.
  7. Induction and Training: All members of staff should be appropriately trained to be able to carry out their duties and roles effectively, and inducted into the culture and processes of the University.

  8. Level of Seriousness: If the matter is judged to be particularly serious then it may be considered directly at Stage 2 of these Disciplinary Procedures.
  9. Note-taking: Both parties (the University and the member of staff) will be entitled to have confidential note-takers present during a formal hearing or appeal. Appropriate provision will be made for disabled members of staff.
  10. Performance and Capability: Where a concern relates to a member of staff's performance, consideration should be given to applying the Capability Procedures (see Section 1.18 in this Handbook) in place of these Disciplinary Procedures. These procedures encourage resolution through informal means wherever possible, and make provision for appropriate training and support.
  11. Probationary Period: During a probationary period the Probationary Procedures will apply except for cases of gross misconduct.
  12. Separation issues: It may be necessary to separate those who are involved in providing evidence from the individual being investigated as part of the disciplinary process. This may involve making alternative arrangements for communication channels and/or line management reporting. Any decisions necessary will be taken by an appropriate manager.
  13. Summary dismissal: In particularly serious cases an employee may be dismissed without notice or payment in lieu of notice. Such a dismissal will take effect from the time the dismissal is notified to the employee. The employee retains the right to appeal against the dismissal.
  14. Suspension: If at any stage it appears that the suspension of a member of staff is necessary then this will be considered by a member of the Directorate appointed for this purpose by the Vice-Chancellor.

4. Arrangements

There are three stages to these Disciplinary Procedures:

Stage 1 – Informal;

Stage 2 – Formal;

Stage 3 – Appeal.

Each of these stages is considered in the following paragraphs.

Any action under these procedures should normally be initiated within 10 working days of the incident coming to light. However, it is accepted that there are occasions where this may not be just or equitable. For example, where a number of smaller similar incidents over a period of time may represent on-going unacceptable practices. In this case the action should be initiated within 10 working days of such an incident coming to light.

5. Stage 1 - Informal

  1. Where a line manager has a concern about the behaviour or conduct of a member of staff the first stage will normally be to seek to resolve the matter through informal one to one discussion between the manager and the individual. Management relationships to the different employment groups are stated in Section 1.9 in this Handbook.
  2. If the matter is not resolved the line manager will then normally convene an informal meeting with the individual to discuss the matter. The member of staff may be accompanied at this meeting by a Trade Union representative or work colleague. A representative of the Head of Personnel and Staff Development will also normally be present. The purpose of the meeting is to explore the issues in an informal manner with the aim of reaching an agreed outcome.
  3. After the meeting the line manager will write to the member of staff summarising the outcomes of the meeting. If the individual does not agree with the outcomes, and this disagreement cannot be resolved through discussion, then the matter will proceed to consideration under Stage 2 of these Disciplinary Procedures.

6. Stage 2 - Formal

  1. If conduct or performance does not improve within the time allowed, or if the matter is sufficiently serious to merit direct entry to Stage 2, the relevant line manager (normally at least at Head of Department/ Associate Dean level) will, in conjunction with the Head of Personnel and Staff Development, arrange for the matter to be investigated in accordance with the Investigation Procedures (see Section 6.5 in this Handbook). The report of the investigation should normally be completed within 15 working days, and ideally within 10 working days. If it is not completed within this timescale, there must be a reasonable cause why this is the case. Any concerns about delays will be addressed as part of any disciplinary hearing.
  2. The line manager will then consider the results of the investigation in conjunction with the Head of Personnel and Staff Development and decide whether a disciplinary hearing is required.

    Alternatively the line manager and employee may agree that an investigation should not be carried out and that the matter should be considered directly at a disciplinary hearing.

  3. Any resulting disciplinary hearing will normally be held by the line manager’s line manager or other appropriate manager appointed by the Director (HR).
  4. If a finding of Gross Misconduct (including dismissal) is a possible outcome as a result of the seriousness of issues involved, then the hearing will normally be conducted by a member of the Directorate who is authorised to make such a decision on behalf of the Vice-Chancellor and the employee will be forewarned of this possibility in advance.
  5. The employee will be given a minimum of 5 working days' written notice of the hearing, which will detail the nature of the complaint. The employee will have the right to be accompanied at the hearing by a Trade Union representative or work colleague who will have the right to speak on behalf of the employee including presenting the case and responding to questions on behalf of the individual.
  6. The person holding the hearing will make arrangements for copies of all documents (including the report of the investigation) to be made available to all parties at least 3 working days in advance of the hearing. If any witnesses are to be called then their names will also be given at the same time.
  7. If the employee wishes to submit any documents in advance of the hearing then these should also be made available to all parties at least 3 working days in advance. If any witnesses are to be called then their names should also be given at the same time.

6.1 Conduct of Hearing

Any hearing will be carried out in accordance with the following general procedures:

  1. the hearing will adopt an investigatory approach (as opposed to an adversarial approach);
  2. the management will state the case against the employee and call such witnesses as may be required (signed and dated witness statements may be provided as an alternative to personal attendance);
  3. the employee will be given the opportunity to state his/her case about any allegations made and call any witnesses required (this may be done by the Trade Union representative or work colleague);
  4. each party may question any witnesses;
  5. either party may request a short adjournment of the hearing for the purpose of consultation or enquiry;
  6. there should be a written record of the principal matters considered at the hearing. The Head of Personnel and Staff Development will be responsible for the production of the record which should, ideally, be agreed by both sides. Any disagreements should be recorded and appended to the record;
  7. the person holding the hearing may ask questions at any point;
  8. the person holding the hearing may decide to adjourn the hearing at his/her discretion;
  9. the person holding the hearing will normally give the outcome verbally at the end of the hearing and confirm it in writing within 5 working days.

6.2 Outcomes

The person hearing the case will normally decide on one of the four outcomes listed below. In addition he/she may make recommendations for consideration by others within the University on any matters arising from the hearing.

(a) No Further Action

No further action is to be taken.

(b) Written Warning

This warning must state the nature of the offence, the fact that the employee has been given a Written Warning, the possible consequence of any further disciplinary action, and outline the appeal procedure. A Written Warning will be deleted from a member of staff's Personal File after a period of one year from the date the warning was given provided no further disciplinary action has been taken.

(c) Final Written Warning

A Final Written Warning may be given by the person holding the hearing for:

(i) a further offence of the same type after a Written Warning, or

(ii) an offence not serious enough to be termed Gross Misconduct but warranting more than a Written Warning, or

(iii) an offence of Gross Misconduct for which dismissal is not applied because of special circumstances.

The warning must state the nature of the offence, the fact that the employee has been given a Final Written Warning, the possible consequences of any further disciplinary action, and outline the appeal procedures. A Final Written Warning will be deleted from a member of staff's Personal File after a period of eighteen months from the date the warning was given provided no further disciplinary action has been taken.

(d) Dismissal

Dismissal may be an outcome either where there is a further offence while a Final Written Warning is still in place or when a member of staff commits an act of Gross Misconduct.

Gross Misconduct covers acts which are so serious as to justify possible dismissal, including but not limited to theft or fraud; physical violence or bullying; deliberately accessing internet sites containing pornographic, offensive or obscene material; serious insubordination; serious incapability at work brought on by alcohol or illegal drugs; a serious breach of health and safety rules; or a serious breach of confidence. It will normally involve misconduct serious enough to destroy the employment contract between employer and employee and make any further working relationship and trust impossible.

If the person holding the hearing is a member of the Directorate authorised to agree dismissal on behalf of the Vice-Chancellor an outcome of the hearing may be a decision to dismiss.

If the person holding the hearing is not a member of the Directorate authorised to agree dismissal on behalf of the Vice-Chancellor, then a recommendation to dismiss must have been considered and endorsed by a member of the Directorate authorised to make such a decision. As part of this consideration the member of staff will be entitled to make representations to the member of the Directorate responsible for making the decision. If the recommendation is not endorsed then normally a Final Written Warning will be substituted for dismissal.

The written outcome must state the nature of the offence, the fact that the employee has committed an act of Gross Misconduct and is dismissed from his/her post (or recommended for dismissal), together with details of the appeal procedure. Consideration will given to the need to separate any parties and/or amend duties pending any appeal.

If a decision is taken that summary dismissal should apply then it will be effective from the date of the notification of the outcome of the decision to dismiss. Summary dismissal does not prevent an appeal against dismissal.

7. Stage 3 - Appeal

Where a member of staff wishes to appeal against the outcome of Stage 2 then an appeal hearing will be held.

An appeal against a decision to dismiss will be heard in accordance with the University’s Dismissal Procedures (Section 9.1 in this Handbook).

An appeal against a Written Warning or a Final Written Warning will be conducted by an appropriate Head of Department or Dean appointed by the Director (HR).

An appeal will take the form of a rehearing of the case and the arrangements for the hearing will be as detailed in paragraph 6.1 above. Five working days notice of the hearing will be given and if there are any further documents then these should be supplied to all parties at least 3 working days before the hearing.

The outcome of an appeal will not be to increase any sanction determined at Stage 2. If, though, further evidence emerges which was not known at stage 2 then the outcome may take this evidence into account when deciding on an appropriate outcome.

Any private briefing by a University Legal Advisor presented at an appeal hearing will be minuted and a transcript attached to the written determination.

8. Suspension

8.1 Suspension of Employees other than Senior Staff

A member of staff may be suspended with pay from duty by the Vice-Chancellor, or member of the Directorate authorised by the Vice-Chancellor, for alleged gross misconduct or other good and urgent cause while the case is being investigated.

All employees will be told clearly in writing the reasons that they are suspended and that it will be for as short a period as possible.

8.2 University Premises

If a suspended employee wishes to enter University premises for the purpose of obtaining documents or meeting potential witnesses or undertaking other activities associated with the case prior permission must be sought from the Head of Personnel and Staff Development.

8.3 Appeals against suspension

Any member of staff who has been suspended for three weeks or more may appeal against suspension by writing to the Head of Personnel and Staff Development.

A member of staff will not be suspended for a protracted period and particular urgency will be applied to any investigation where a member of staff is suspended.

An appeal will be limited to considering whether suspension is appropriate in the circumstances. It will not be a hearing of the matter under consideration. The appeal will be considered by a member of the Directorate appointed by the Vice-Chancellor.

The hearing will normally be held within 15 working days of the notification of appeal and a minimum of 5 working days notice will be given. If the employee wishes to submit any documents in advance of the hearing then these should be made available to all parties at least 3 working days in advance.

A suspension against which an appeal is made will continue to operate pending the determination of the appeal.

9. Senior Staff

The disciplinary procedures for Senior Staff (ie members of the Directorate) are detailed in the University’s Articles of Association of the Company. If further guidance on process is required than the principles given in these Disciplinary Procedures will be followed.

10. Link with the Students’ Complaints Procedures

A flow diagram is appended to this section showing how the Staff Disciplinary Procedures may link with the Students’ Complaints Procedures.

Effective date: October 2008


Section 6.2

GRIEVANCE PROCEDURES

This agreement is between the University of Gloucestershire as the employer and the recognised Trades Unions and Management Common Interest Group of the University on the procedures to be used by members of staff to raise grievances relating to their employment.

These procedures have been established in accordance with statutory requirements and take account of ACAS guidance. It is agreed that the parties to the agreement will use their best endeavours to ensure that the spirit and intention of the procedures is honoured at all times.

The University values its staff and aims to produce an environment free from hostility and harassment and in which individuals can contribute effectively and confidently to the common endeavour. Such a culture is open and responsive and is one where everyone accepts a personal responsibility to ensure that the dignity of an individual is not abused.

These procedures must be read in conjunction with Section 6.0 in this Handbook which includes an introduction to the procedures and details of principles and common elements which apply to this and other dispute resolution procedures.

1. Objectives

The objectives of these grievance procedures are to:

  1. foster good working relationships by providing a mechanism for the timely resolution of the grievances of individuals;
  2. ensure that supervisors/managers resolve grievances as expeditiously and earnestly as possible having regard to the individual’s contractual position;
  3. resolve grievances as near as possible to their point of origin having regard to the lowest level of authority required to resolve the grievance;
  4. seek to remove the source of grievance where it is found to be valid;
  5. operate in a way which will not result in the victimisation of an individual who brings a grievance in good faith.

2. General matters

  1. Personal Grievances: These grievance procedures apply to individual members of staff. In most situations the grievance will be brought forward by one person, but a situation might occur where a group of people have a similar grievance which is not of a general collective nature. To avoid several separate processes operating for the same issue, agreement will be sought between all parties on whether such a grievance would be heard by a single application of the process (i.e. treated as a ‘class action’). If agreement cannot be reached, the Director (HR) will be responsible for deciding whether a single hearing will be heard and used as a precedent. All other instances would be stayed pending the outcome of the ‘test case’.
  2. Collective issues: Group grievances, which are general collective issues and are not personal to an individual or group of individuals, should be pursued through normal University processes, for example, departmental meetings, Common Interest Groups, etc.
  3. Specific Complaints Routes: If there are special appeal processes within any University procedure, these should be used by an individual as such processes will have been designed to focus the type of grievance and to provide a ‘fast track’. Examples are appeals against balance of duties allocations and appeals against selection for redundancy (see Section 1.7 and 12.1 in this Handbook respectively).
  4. Informal resolution: Every effort will be made by all parties to avoid the use of the formal methods outlined in these procedures where problems can be resolved by the appropriate informal procedures.
  5. Applicability: These procedures apply to all members of staff, including hourly paid members of staff and other staff on fixed term contracts.

  6. Changes in working practices: If the grievance arises as a result of a change in working practices there will, if reasonably possible, be no further change in working practices while the grievance is being considered. If, however, this is not reasonably possible then the change may need to be implemented in advance of the determination of the grievance.
  7. Scope of Grievances: Issues that may lead to grievances include:
  8. (i) terms and conditions of employment;

    (ii) health and safety;

    (iii) work relations;

    (iv) bullying and harassment;

    (v) new working practices;

    (vi) working environment;

    (vii) organisational change; and

    (viii) equal opportunities.

  9. Exceptions: The following matters lie outside the scope of these Grievance Procedures:
  10. (i) matter currently being considered under any of the following procedures:

    (a) Avoidance of Redundancy Procedure;

    (b) Capability Procedures;

    (c) Disciplinary Procedures;

    (d) Dismissal Procedures;

    (e) Harassment and Bullying Policy and Procedures;

    (f) Whistleblowing Policy and Procedures.

    (ii) statutory matters relating to actions taken under statutory provisions [e.g. Tax, Occupational Pension Schemes, Attachment of Earning Orders, National Insurance];

    (iii) decisions of the University Council taken in accordance with its responsibilities under the University’'s Articles of Association of the Company;

    (iv) any other matter over which the University has no control.

  11. Completion of Process: A grievance against a particular incident or series of incidents may not be raised again once a decision and resolution have been made and the right of appeal either invoked or waived.
  12. Malicious, Frivolous or Vexatious Grievances: If the grievance is found to be malicious, frivolous or vexatious during the application of the Grievance Procedures, consideration will be given to further action, which may include disciplinary action.
  13. Grievances against Council: A grievance against a decision of Council will be considered as if it were a grievance against a member of the Directorate as the Directorate is the Executive body operating on behalf of Council.
  14. Absence from University: If a member of staff is absent from the University through illness or other reason such as pregnancy, parental leave, adoption, paternity, special and carers’ leave, the member of staff is advised to notify the University that he/she intends to pursue his/her grievance when able to do so.
  15. Leaving and Contractual Termination: A grievance initiated by a member of staff will not be discontinued automatically if the member of staff leaves the University’s employment or is an hourly paid member of staff whose current contract comes to an end.
  16. Conflicts of Interest: In the interests of natural justice, it will be the responsibility of any manager or staff representative involved in hearing the grievance to declare any conflict of interest. Where conflicts of interest are declared, that person should not hear the case, and an alternative person will be found.
  17. Separation Issues: It may be desirable to separate the two parties during an investigation and/or make alternative arrangements for communication channels and line management reporting. This will depend on the circumstances of each case.

3. Role of Personnel and Staff Development Department

The Personnel and Staff Development Department has a role in giving advice and making formal arrangements where appropriate, within the Grievance Procedures. The Head of Personnel and Staff Development should be consulted in the following circumstances:

  1. by the person conducting the grievance meeting before any action is taken;
  2. by an individual wishing to bring a grievance against a senior manager, member of the Directorate or a member of Council which is sensitive and difficult;
  3. by an individual wishing to bring a grievance specifically against the employer and which no-one below the Directorate has authority of resolution.

4. Arrangements

There are three stages to these Grievance Procedures:

Stage 1 – Informal;

Stage 2 – Formal;

Stage 3 – Appeal.

Each of these stages is considered in the following sections of these procedures.

A grievance should normally be raised within 10 working days of the incident which resulted in the grievance. However, it is accepted by the University that there are occasions where this may not be just or equitable. For example, where a number of incidents over a period of time may represent on-going unacceptable practices. In this case the grievance should be raised within 10 working days of an incident.

5. Stage 1 - Informal

  1. Where an individual has a concern about an action taken by the University then the first stage will normally be to seek to resolve the matter through informal discussion between the individual and his/her supervisor or line manager. If the individual does not wish to approach his/her supervisor or line manager then he/she may approach the Head of Personnel and Staff Development instead.
  2. If the matter is not resolved the line manager will then normally convene an informal meeting with the individual to discuss the matter. The member of staff may be accompanied at this meeting by a Trade Union representative or work colleague. A representative of the Head of Personnel and Staff Development will also normally be present. The purpose of the meeting is to explore the issues in an informal manner with the aim of reaching an agreed outcome.
  3. After such a meeting the line manager will write to the member of staff summarising the outcomes of the meeting, which may include actions to be implemented to resolve the grievance and any points of disagreement. If the individual does not agree with the outcomes, and this disagreement cannot be resolved through discussion, then the matter will normally proceed to consideration under Stage 2 of these grievance procedures. However, if the member of staff takes no further action within 10 working days the matter will be considered to be resolved to the satisfaction of the person bringing the grievance.
  4. In some circumstances the use of mediation may be more appropriate than the informal meeting outlined in (b) above. Where the line manager and employee agree that mediation should be used then this will take the place of the informal meeting. The Head of Personnel and Staff Development will be able to advise on arrangements.

6. Stage 2 - Formal

  1. If the matter is not resolved a member of staff may request a formal grievance hearing by writing to the Head of Personnel and Staff Development within 10 working days using the appropriate form. A copy of the form is appended to the end of this section.
  2. If the Head of Personnel and Staff Development considers that the grievance is outside the scope of the grievance procedures then the grievance will be discontinued.
  3. The Head of Personnel and Staff Development will decide, normally in conjunction with the relevant line manager, who should be responsible for holding the hearing. This will normally be a Head of Department/Associate Dean, Deputy Head of Department, Faculty Manager, or other appropriate manager whose post is at least Grade 8. In all cases the person holding the hearing will be a manager of appropriate seniority.
  4. The person responsible for holding the hearing will then consider with the Head of Personnel and Staff Development whether the matter should be investigated in accordance with the Investigation Procedures or whether the matter should proceed directly to a hearing. Factors to be considered include the clarity of the issue(s), the need to collect information from a number of people, and whether or not a more timely resolution could be achieved without carrying out a separate investigation in advance of a hearing. If it is proposed to proceed direct to a hearing then this proposal will be made to the employee. If he/she agrees then an investigation will not be held.
  5. The member of staff will be given a minimum of 5 working days' written notice of the hearing. The member of staff will have the right to be accompanied at the hearing by a trade union representative or work colleague, who will have the right to speak on behalf of the employee including presenting the case and responding to questions on behalf of the individual.
  6. If the member of staff wishes to submit any documents in advance of the hearing then these should be submitted at least 3 working days in advance. If any witnesses are to be called then their names should also be given at the same time.
  7. If the University wishes to submit any documents in advance of the hearing then these should be submitted at least 3 working days in advance. If any witnesses are to be called then their names should also be given at the same time.

6.1 Conduct of Hearings

Any hearing will normally be carried out in accordance with the general procedure detailed below. If the person holding the hearing judges that it is necessary he/she may meet instead with the parties separately rather than all together.

If the person holding the hearing decides to meet with the parties separately then great care must be taken to ensure that each party has the opportunity to respond to any evidence provided by the other party before a determination is made. This may mean that several meetings are needed.

  1. the hearing will adopt an investigatory approach (as opposed to an adversarial approach);
  2. the individual will state his/her grievance and call such witnesses as may be required (signed and dated witness statements may be provided as an alternative to personal attendance);
  3. an appropriate manager will respond and call any witnesses required (this may be done by the Trade Union representative or work colleague);
  4. each party may question any witnesses;
  5. either party may request a short adjournment of the hearing for the purpose of consultation or enquiry;
  6. there should be a written record of the meeting and this should be agreed by both sides if possible (disagreements must be recorded and appended to the formal record);
  7. the person holding the hearing may ask questions at any point;
  8. the person holding the hearing may decide to adjourn the hearing at his/her discretion;
  9. the person holding the hearing will normally give the outcome verbally at the end of the hearing and confirm it in writing within 5 working days;

6.2 Outcomes

The person hearing the grievance will normally decide on one of three possible outcomes:

(a) Grievance Upheld in full

The grievance is upheld in full and the action(s) requested are agreed or alternative actions are determined.

(b) Grievance Upheld in part

The grievance is upheld in part and appropriate actions determined.

(c) Grievance not upheld

The grievance is not upheld.

7. Stage 3 - Appeal

A member of staff may appeal against the outcome of Stage 2 unless the grievance has been upheld in full and the action(s) requested agreed.

Where a member of staff wishes to appeal then he/she should do so by writing to the Head of Personnel and Staff Development using the appropriate form within 10 working days of receiving the written notification of the outcome. A copy of the form is appended to the end of this section. An appeal hearing will be held by an appropriate senior manager appointed by the Head of Personnel and Staff Development in conjunction with the Director (HR).

An appeal will normally take the form of a rehearing of the case and the arrangements for the hearing will be as detailed in paragraph 5.2 above. Five working days notice of the hearing will be given and if there are any further documents these should be supplied to all parties at least 3 working days before the hearing.

8. Implementation of Outcomes

It is expected that any outcomes will be implemented speedily but, if any action determined by the University has not been implemented, or has been implemented only partially, the member of staff will be entitled to report the matter in writing to the Head of Personnel and Staff Development, who will take timely action to ensure compliance with the decision and resolution.

9. Procedures for cases of particular difficulty or sensitivity

In cases of particular difficulty or sensitivity extra care may be needed when determining who should be responsible for making decisions at various stages including who should hold hearings at Stages 2 and 3. The Director (HR) will be responsible for these decisions in conjunction with the Head of Personnel and Staff Development.

Statement of Formal Grievance Form

Effective date: 3 June 2008


Section 6.3

HARASSMENT PROCEDURES

1. Introduction

The University seeks to provide a safe, friendly and supportive environment in which the contribution of all members of staff is valued. Very occasionally interactions between members of staff may cause individuals concern. The University takes such concerns very seriously and these Harassment Procedures provide a framework within which they can be addressed. These procedures replace the more general Grievance Procedures for considering matters related to harassment and bullying and are supported by specific policy (see Appendix 13.18 in this Handbook).

The University has specific policy statements on the Promotion of Equal Opportunities and Race Equality and action plans, in particular, to avoid unfair discrimination for gender and disability as required by statutory regulation.

Harassment is behaviour which results in a diminution of self esteem and undermines the well-being of the person concerned. It may, for example, adversely affect his/her health, work performance or threaten or appear to threaten job security or prospects. It may be persistent behaviour or an isolated incident.

These procedures do not override the right of an individual’s access to the law to protect themselves from harassment by any member of the University.

Further information or advice may be obtained from a Harassment Contact, the Head of Personnel and Staff Development or the Director (HR).

These procedures must be read in conjunction with Section 6.0 in this Handbook which includes an introduction to the procedures and details of principles and common elements which apply to this and other dispute resolution procedures.

2. Objectives

The objectives of these harassment procedures are to:

  1. foster good working relationships by providing a mechanism for the timely resolution of concerns about harassment between individuals;
  2. ensure that the individual’s personal rights to express themselves and take appropriate action are protected;
  3. ensure that concerns about harassment between individuals are resolved in a confidential and timely manner;
  4. resolve concerns about harassment between individuals as near as possible to their point of origin;
  5. remove the source of harassment where it is found to be valid;
  6. avoid victimisation of an individual who brings an allegation of harassment in good faith and a respondent who has unfounded claims brought against him/her.

3. What is Harassment?

The following are examples of what may be considered as harassment. This is not an exhaustive list and is intended as a general guide for anyone involved in a situation which may be perceived as harassment.

Physical Harassment

(i) Unwelcome physical contact ranging from touching through to sexual/serious assault, intrusion by stalking, spying, following and other such actions;

(ii) Sexual advances, propositions or demands for sexual favours;

(iii) Offensive actions including staring, leering or obscene gestures.

(iv) Acts of physical violence such as throwing something at somebody, (although these would normally be dealt with as a disciplinary matter and in the case of personal assault would be potentially a Police matter).

Verbal and Written Harassment

(i) Offensive language, inappropriate use of e-mail, WebCT, web sites, personal computer spaces, voicemail, letters slander, libel, etc (FN1);
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FN1: The University has a ‘Communications Policy and Guidelines’ (Appendix 13.12 in this Handbook) and has monitoring arrangements in place as defined in its ‘Monitoring of Communications Policy Statement and Guidelines (Appendix 13.22 in this Handbook). The standards and legal framework for communication by e-mail and web pages are covered in “Policy and Guidelines for the use of the University Network”; this can be found on the University web site.
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(ii) Innuendo;

(iii) Distasteful jokes and ridicule and making someone the butt of jokes;

(iv) Asking intimate questions about someone's personal life;

(v) Gossip, speculation or malicious rumours;

(vi) Verbal abuse;

(vii) Sexual propositions or demands for sexual favours;

(viii) Derogatory or abusive comments;

(ix) Offensive banter, insults, taunts, insinuations;

(x) Public transmission or display of offensive or inappropriate literature, graffiti, pin-ups, visual images contrary to the law and University practice, policies and regulations.

Serious Lack of Consideration

(i) Assumptions based on stereotyping, for example, that everyone is heterosexual or that any illness experienced by gay men is HIV related or that disabled people don’'t have a social, sexual or private life;

(ii) Speaking to others rather than to the disabled person directly;

(iii) Asking intimate questions about a person's impairment;

(iv) Questioning a disabled person's work capacity and/or ability by making inappropriate demands or requirements eg over zealous scrutiny of sickness records;

(v)Making assumptions or speculating about someone's impairment;

(vi) Unreasonable refusal to make adjustments to the working environment and working conditions.

Bullying

(i) Intimidating behaviour involving abuse of power or coercion by individuals or groups of people;

(ii) Persistent direct or indirect public and/or private criticism or ridicule;

(iii) Consistently attacking a member of staff in terms of their professional or personal standing either directly or indirectly;

(iv) Setting out to make a person’s life miserable, in the hope of getting them dismissed or simply of making them resign;

(v) Using threatening behaviour;

(vi) Intimidation;

(vii) Shouting at staff to get things done;

(viii) Blocking their promotion.

Unfair/Different Treatment

(i) Isolation or non co-operation whilst studying or working;

(ii) Unfair allocation of work;

(iii) Continually ignoring or excluding an individual, for example, from conversation or social events;

(iv) Failure to delegate fairly.

4. Helping to decide

If a member of staff feels harassed as a result of an incident or a series of incidents involving one or more other members of staff he/she may need help. This may be obtained by approaching one of the following:

  1. Harassment Contacts;
  2. Line or Operational Manager;
  3. Union Officers/Representatives;
  4. Personnel and Staff Development Staff;
  5. Chaplain(s) of the appropriate faith.

These people will treat any matters raised in confidence as far as is consistent with legal responsibilities.

The member of staff will then need to decide what action, if any, to take.

A member of staff being complained about may also wish to seek advice from one of those listed above.

All parties involved should use their best endeavours to resolve matters at an early stage, in confidence, and without using formal methods if at all possible. All members of staff have the right to be treated fairly and to be given a full and fair opportunity to explain their perception of the situation.

It is very important that members of staff keep records of incidents, any witnesses to incidents and record their feelings at the time.

If a member of staff is being harassed by a student, group of students, parents of students, members of the public, members of Council, employees of providers of contracted services (eg security, catering), employees of companies for which the University is providing services (including KTP associates) or anyone else as a result of their employment he/she should normally approach his/her line manager in the first instance.

5. Harassment Contacts

The University has appointed and trained a number of Harassment Contacts from different staff groups across the University. Harassment Contacts provide informal support and advice to individuals concerned about harassment.

The primary role of the Harassment Contact is to listen, to provide support and guidance to the individuals on a range of options including formal and informal procedures. They are independent and will deal with matters in confidence as far as is consistent with progressing the concerns of those involved.

A list of current Harassment Contacts is given on the Personnel and Staff Development Department web pages and is also available direct from the Department.

6. General matters

  1. The University recognises that it needs to be proactive in protecting members of staff from harassment and bullying. If information is reported about serious harassment and/or bullying then consideration will be given to initiating the Disciplinary Procedures based on the evidence presented.
  2. The arrangements for considering allegations of harassment are based on independent investigation. They do not include hearings which involve all parties at the same time as this is likely to be unnecessarily distressing.
  3. If a member of staff is contemplating involving the Police or taking out a Civil Action against a member of the University, or a member of the public with whom they have contact in an employment capacity (or has already done so because of immediate need), the University asks that the Head of Personnel and Staff Development be notified of this.

7. Arrangements

There are three stages to Harassment Procedures:

Stage 1 – Informal;

Stage 2 – Formal;

Stage 3 – Appeal.

Each of these stages is considered in the following sections of these procedures.

8. Stage 1 - Informal

As circumstances vary there are a range of options available. These are detailed in the following paragraphs.

8.1 Resolve through discussion with the alleged harasser

In the great majority of areas problems may be resolved by simply discussing the matter with the person whose behaviour is the subject of complaint. If possible this should be a personal face to face meeting. It is better to avoid writing to the individual at this stage.

It is recognised that a growing form of harassment is through inappropriate use of e-mail. If a member of staff is being harassed electronically he/she may ask the University for a change of e-mail address or ask for a block to be placed on emails from a particular email address.

  1. Those who feel harassed by the behaviour of another should be mindful of the difference between expressing feelings of harassment, which is their legitimate right to do, and making a complaint concerning a particular incident or a series of incidents.
  2. Those who are approached by a colleague concerning their behaviour which has caused feelings of harassment should be mindful of the sensitivities of others and should respond accordingly.
  3. Those who are approached by a colleague with a particular complaint about an incident(s) which cannot be resolved amicably by face to face discussion or correspondence may wish to suggest to the person with the complaint that he/she seeks mediation as defined in paragraph 8.3. Those who are asked to consider this should respond accordingly. A polite reasonable request should be met with a polite and reasonable response.

It is hoped that by such approaches that most incidents will be resolved between parties locally and in confidence.

8.2 Resolving with assistance from adviser

An adviser (as outlined in paragraph 4) can help members of staff by providing advice and support and may be able to speak to the alleged harasser on behalf of a member of staff.

8.3 Resolving through mediation with appropriate Manager

By agreement, a line manager may mediate between members of staff. This will not involve other parties. Any discussion will be kept confidential to the parties involved.

Where appropriate reasonable encouragement will be given to resolve matters through mediation although a member of staff may not be forced to agree to mediation. If the manager considers that the matter cannot be resolved by mediation following discussion with the person who is the respondent, he/she will discuss this with the person raising the concerns and advise on alternative options. Note that these are internal mediation arrangements as part of an internal process and organised by the University, but may be delivered by an independent external mediator. These should not be confused with any mediation process defined as part of the requirements of legislative processes for tribunals or courts.

8.4 Outcome

Whichever of the above informal procedures is used the aim is to reach a mutually satisfactory conclusion. If this is not possible then the formal procedures should be invoked within 10 working days or the matter will be considered to be resolved to the satisfaction of the person bringing the allegation. If the allegations are repeated publicly without the formal procedures being invoked then the person who is the respondent may choose to invoke the appropriate procedures.

9. Stage 2 - Formal

If the matter has not been resolved to the satisfaction of the complainant he/she will need to decide whether the matter should be considered under the formal procedures. The decision should be based upon the seriousness of the incident(s). Whilst respecting the rights of individuals to bring complaints based on their perceptions, the University will ensure that unfounded complaints are dismissed in such a manner as not to disadvantage the respondent. It will also make every attempt to protect the personal and professional reputations of all parties involved.

If the member(s) of staff wishes to make a formal complaint it must be put in writing to the Head of Personnel and Staff Development using the appropriate form within 10 working days of the end of Stage 1. A copy of the form is appended to the end of this section. The following procedures will then apply.

  1. An appropriate manager will be appointed to investigate and to determine the outcome of the allegation. Normally this person will be the individual’s line manager, but if this causes concern advice should be sought from the Head of Personnel and Staff Development. A complaint against a manager in the normal reporting line will not be handled by another manager in that reporting line. In the case of allegations of sexual abuse, particular care will be taken over potential gender and sexuality issues.
  2. The process of investigation will follow the University’s Investigation Procedures and start with a meeting with the complainant.
  3. It may be desirable to separate the parties during an investigation and/or to make alternative arrangements for communication channels and/or line management reporting. This will depend on the circumstances of each case and is a decision that will normally be taken by the relevant line manager or Head of Department.
  4. Every effort will be made to complete the investigation within 15 working days.
  5. When the investigation has been completed the person appointed will normally meet with the complainant and other parties separately to explain his/her conclusions and decision. This will be confirmed in writing within 5 working days and include a summary of reasons for reaching a decision.

9.1 Outcomes

  1. If the allegation is substantiated consideration will be given to further action which may include disciplinary action against the respondent. The appropriate manager may take advice from the Head of Personnel and Staff Development or the Director (HR).
  2. If the allegation is unsubstantiated there will need to be a written record exonerating the respondent. In order to protect the personal and professional reputations of those involved, these will be copied to all parties previously involved, including witnesses, on a confidential basis. The written record may include a determination of the events in question.
  3. If the allegation is found to be malicious, frivolous or vexatious, consideration will be given to further action, which may include disciplinary action.
  4. Either party may wish to seek counselling at this stage.

9.2 Records

  1. Where an allegation is substantiated, the record will be held on the respondent’s personal file.
  2. Where an allegation is found to be malicious the record will be held on the complainant’s personal file.
  3. Where an allegation is unsubstantiated, the record will be held on both the respondent’s and the complainant’s personal file.

Normally records will be removed from personal files after 18 months if there have been no further allegations.

10. Stage 3 - Appeal

If the person making the allegation is dissatisfied at the outcome of the Stage 2 he/she may appeal by writing to the Head of Personnel and Staff Development using the appropriate form within 10 days of receiving the written outcome. A copy of the form is appended to the end of this section.

The Head of Personnel and Staff Development will, in conjunction with the Director (HR), appoint a senior manager to hear the appeal.

The appeal hearing will be carried out in accordance with the following general procedures:

  1. the member of staff serving the appeal will be given a minimum of 5 working days' written notice of the hearing. The employee will have the right to be accompanied at the hearing by a Trade Union representative or work colleague, who will have the right to speak on behalf of the employee including presenting the case and responding to questions on behalf of the individual.
  2. the person hearing the appeal will make arrangements for copies of all documents to be made available to the appellant at least 3 working days in advance of the hearing.
  3. if the appellant wishes to submit any documents in advance of the hearing then these should also be submitted at least 3 working days in advance of the hearing.
  4. the hearing will adopt an investigatory approach (as opposed to an adversarial approach).
  5. the appellant will be asked to present his/her appeal to the person hearing the appeal.
  6. the person hearing the appeal will then consider the information presented and decide whether or not he/she needs any further information and/or to meet with any other members of staff before being able to decide on the outcome of the appeal.
  7. further information will be collected and/or meetings held as required. This may include a further meeting with the appellant at the discretion of the person hearing the appeal.
  8. the person hearing the appeal will give the outcome as soon as possible. Every effort will be made to ensure that this is within 10 working days of the appeal hearing.

Flow diagram of Procedures

A flow diagram of the procedures is appended to this section.

Statement of Formal Allegation of Harassment Form

Effective date: 3 June 2008


Section 6.4

WHISTLEBLOWING PROCEDURES

1. INTRODUCTION

1.1
In line with other public bodies, the University has a duty to conduct its affairs in a responsible way. The University encourages and welcomes openness, freedom of speech and the voicing of concerns as a contribution towards maintaining and enhancing quality and ensuring high standards of governance and accountability at the University.

These procedures have been developed in response to the Public Interest Disclosure Act (the ‘Whistleblowing’ Act), enacted January 1999, and the recommendations of the Second Report on Standards in Public Life 1996 (the Nolan Committee), which emphasised that institutions of Higher and Further Education should ensure that staff are permitted to speak freely and without being subject to disciplinary sanctions or victimisation provided that they do so lawfully, without malice and in the public interest.

These procedures are intended to protect:

(a) employees who raise genuine and legitimate concerns, in confidence, internally and, in exceptional circumstances, with appropriate external regulatory bodies (where an employee chooses to raise concerns externally, he/she must meet the criteria specified in paragraphs 4.1 to 4.3);

(b) other individuals who perform work for the University (e.g. agency workers, those on work experience and self-employed workers) who raise genuine and legitimate concerns as above; and

(c) the University, and other employees and workers, against false, vexatious or malicious accusations.

For ease of reference these procedures include within them processes relating to suspension and dismissal which are defined definitively in the Articles of Association of the Company.

1.2 Definition of ‘Whistleblowing’

A widely accepted definition, by Lord Borrie QC in 1995 is as follows:

“...the disclosure by an employee (or professional) of confidential information which relates to some danger, fraud or other illegal or unethical conduct connected with the workplace, be it of the employer or of his fellow employees.”

Professional in the above definition is taken to refer to self-employed workers working for an organisation (see also paragraph 1.3).

1.3 Objectives of the procedure

(i) To encourage and enable employees and other workers (e.g. agency, self-employed and those on work experience) to raise genuine and legitimate concerns internally (and also to define clearly the situations in which they may raise the matter externally, see paragraphs 4.1 to 4.3), without being subject to any detriment, including victimisation and disciplinary action up to and including dismissal;

(ii) To provide an opportunity for those concerns to be investigated and for appropriate action to be taken to ensure that the matter is resolved effectively within the University wherever possible;

(iii) To deter serious malpractice;

(iv)To promote accountability throughout the University.

2. ARRANGEMENTS AND PRINCIPLES

2.1 Scope

(i) These procedures are not intended to replace the existing Grievance or Harassment Procedures nor to provide another mechanism for employees to raise matters relating to their own employment.

(ii) These procedures are to be applied to all employees irrespective of the nature of their contract. The Whistleblowing Procedures will also apply to other individuals who perform work for the University (i.e. agency workers, those on work experience and self-employed workers engaged under a contract for services), who will be encouraged to raise concerns in the same way as employees.

(iii) Examples of serious concerns covered by these procedures are:

  1. an offence or breach of any statutory instrument or legal obligation;
  2. abrogation of appropriate procedures;
  3. improper or unauthorised use of public or other funds;
  4. fraud;
  5. financial irregularity;
  6. dishonesty;
  7. malpractice;
  8. corruption;
  9. bribery;
  10. unethical conduct;
  11. miscarriage of justice;
  12. danger to the health or safety of any individual or the environment;
  13. the deliberate concealing of information about the above.
These examples are not intended to be exhaustive.

2.2 Reporting Concerns

All concerns under these procedures normally should be reported internally in the first instance. Only when the Internal Procedures (see paragraph 3) have been exhausted should concerns be raised externally. However, under certain conditions an employee or worker may make a disclosure to an external body if he/she reasonably believed they would be victimised as a result of raising the issue or that relevant evidence would be concealed or destroyed by the University. If an employee chooses to disclose concerns externally, he/she must meet the criteria outlined in paragraphs 4.1 to 4.3.

The following principles will apply:

(i) If a concern is raised against an employee below Directorate level, the procedure outlined at 3.1 should be followed;

(ii) If a concern is raised against a member of the Directorate, Council appointee or Member of Council, the procedure outlined at 3.2 should be followed.

2.3 Confidentiality

The employee or worker making an allegation will receive a written assurance from the person receiving the complaint that all steps will be taken to maintain confidentiality as far as is consistent with progressing the matter.

If the Vice-Chancellor / Chair of Council believes that a criminal offence has been or may be committed, he/she normally will inform the police.

2.4 Investigation

Any concern raised in accordance with these procedures will be investigated thoroughly and in a timely manner by the University and appropriate corrective action will be pursued. The University has separate Investigation Procedures (see Section 6.5 of this Handbook).

The employee or worker making the allegation will be kept informed of progress and, wherever possible and subject to third party rights, will be informed of the resolution.

It may be desirable to separate the two parties during an investigation and/or make alternative arrangements for communication channels and line management reporting. This will depend on the circumstances of each case.

2.5 Suspension

If the matter to be investigated is thought potentially to involve gross misconduct, the member of staff who is the subject of the allegation may be suspended immediately from work on full pay, by the University Vice-Chancellor / Chair of Council, while the investigation proceeds. Similarly, if during, the course of an investigation the investigating officer is of the view that a serious breach of discipline may have occurred, his/her findings should be reported immediately to the Vice-Chancellor / Chair of Council who may consider suspending the member of staff pending the outcome of the investigation.

Senior staff appointed by Council, as defined in the Articles of Association of the Company,

Any decision to suspend will be confirmed in writing as soon as reasonably practicable, and this will be a precautionary, not a disciplinary, suspension pending out come of the matter. The reason for the suspension will remain confidential to the parties to the suspension.

If an employee under suspension from his/her post wishes to enter University premises for the purposes of obtaining documents or undertaking other activities associated with the case prior permission must be sought from the Vice-Chancellor, or in the case of Senior staff from the Chair of Council.

2.6 Employee Rights

An employee or worker will not be disciplined for raising a genuine and legitimate concern, providing that he/she does so in good faith and follows the Whistleblowing Procedures.

An individual considering raising a concern may disclose the information to a trade union adviser in the course of seeking advice about matters of disclosure. A Trade Union Adviser will treat any matters you raise in confidence so far as is consistent with legal responsibilities.

Any member of staff who is the subject of an allegation, and who is required to be interviewed, will have the right to be accompanied and/or represented by a trade union representative/official or friend. As these whistleblowing procedures are essentially internal University processes legal representation of either party at meetings is not appropriate nor allowed.

All associated documentation will be made available to all relevant parties prior to the interview.

2.7 Personnel and Staff Development Department

The Personnel and Staff Development Department has a role in giving advice and making formal arrangements where appropriate, and may be consulted by the person making the allegation before any procedures are set in motion.

2.8 Special Committee of Council

An Appeals Committee of Council will hear any appeals against the outcome of an investigation.

The Appeals Committee will consist of 3 members of Council, at least 2 of whom will be members external to the University and normally one of whom will be an academic or general staff member. Any staff member will normally be from a different Department/School/Research Unit from that of the appellant. The Chair of Council and the Vice-Chair will be eligible for membership of the Committee if they have not been previously involved in the matter under consideration, but should not both serve on the same committee. The Vice-Chancellor will not be eligible for membership of the Committee.

The Appeals Committee will be established for each individual case, and Council will appoint a Chair from the three members.

A decision of the Committee will be reached following a thorough investigation into the case and based upon the facts and evidence available.

2.9 Anonymous Allegations

As stated within the procedures below, allegations should be raised in writing (or, in exceptional cases, verbally) and the employee or worker raising the allegation will be protected from victimisation and/or disciplinary action provided that he/she has acted reasonably under the terms of these procedures.

The University will, however, need to satisfy itself that serious anonymous allegations are investigated thoroughly, as far as is reasonably practicable based upon the facts and the information disclosed anonymously, by an appropriate senior member of staff.

2.10 Reporting

Copies of all completed investigating reports, including those concerning anonymous allegations, under the terms of these procedures will be forwarded to the University Council.

The University Audit Committee will be informed of any allegations which concern improper or unauthorised use of public or other funds, fraud or financial irregularity.

3. INTERNAL PROCEDURES

3.1 Procedure for allegations against employees below Directorate level

Allegations which fall under the terms of paragraph 2.1 (iii) above normally should be raised, in writing, with the Head of Personnel and Staff Development. The Head of Personnel and Staff Development will confirm receipt of the allegation in writing, marked ‘Strictly Private and Confidential - open addressee only’. Following discussion with the Vice-Chancellor, a member of the Senior Management Group (or an appropriate external organisation, e.g. the University’s Internal Auditors in the case of Financial Misconduct) will be appointed to carry out a comprehensive internal investigation. The investigation will commence with a detailed interview with the member of staff making the allegation.

It is recognised that there may be circumstances in which it may be appropriate to allow an employee or worker to report a concern verbally. In these circumstances, the nominated investigating officer will make a full record of the concern. This, however, will not identify the complainant.

On completion of all preliminary interviews the investigating officer will send the final report to the Director. A copy will also be sent to the member of staff who is the subject of the allegation, and to the individual who raised the concern.

On completion of the investigation, the officer responsible will consider the balance of probabilities. If he/she considers that a complaint of misconduct is justified, a disciplinary hearing will be arranged under the Disciplinary Procedures.

Where there is evidence of criminal activity, the police normally will be informed.

If the employee or worker who raised the concern is dissatisfied with the outcome of the investigation he/she may, within 10 working days of being given a decision under 3.1, appeal to a Special Committee of Council (see paragraph 3.3).

3.2 Procedure for Allegations Against Members of the Directorate, Other Council Appointees and Members of Council

Allegations which fall under the terms of paragraph 2.1 (iii) above normally should be raised, in writing, with Chair/Vice Chair of Council as appropriate. The Chair/Vice Chair of Council will confirm receipt of the allegation in writing, marked ‘Strictly Private and Confidential - open addressee only’. He/she will appoint an appropriate investigating officer to carry out a comprehensive internal investigation. The investigation will commence with a detailed interview with the member of staff making the allegation.

On completion of all preliminary interviews the investigating officer will send the final report to the Chair/Vice Chair of Council as appropriate. A copy will also be sent to the member of staff who is the subject of the allegation, and to the individual who raised the concern.

On completion of the investigation, the officer responsible will consider the balance of probabilities. If he/she considers that a complaint of misconduct is justified, a disciplinary hearing will be arranged under the Disciplinary Procedures.

Where there is evidence of criminal activity, the police will normally be informed.

If the employee or worker who raised the concern is dissatisfied with the outcome of the investigation he/she may, within 10 working days of being given a decision under 3.2, appeal to a Special Committee of Council (see paragraph 3.3).

3.3 Procedure for Appeal Against the Outcome of an Investigation

If the employee or worker raising the concern is not satisfied with the outcome of an investigation at either 3.1 or 3.2 above, and/or where following an investigation the allegation was dismissed, he/she should appeal in writing, stating the grounds/reasons for appeal, to the Clerk of the Council who will make arrangements for the matter to be reviewed by a Special Committee of Council.

The Clerk of the Council will make arrangements for copies of all documentation to be made available to all parties, will ensure that all parties are aware of the order of procedure and the calling and questioning of witnesses.

The meeting of the Special Committee of Council must be held within 15 working days of the date on which the Clerk of the Council was notified of the complaint. 5 working days notice of the meeting must be given.

The decision of the Special Committee of Council should be notified to the person raising the complaint, in writing, within 5 working days of the meeting.

The decision of the Special Committee of Council is the final level of the internal procedures.

4. EXTERNAL PROCEDURES

4.1
If the employee or worker making the allegations remains dissatisfied with the outcome of the internal procedures, or where he/she chooses to disclose externally subject to the criteria outlined in paragraph 4.3, he/she is entitled to raise the issue with an appropriate public body. Appropriate external bodies are:

  1. the University’s Internal or External Auditors;
  2. the Health and Safety Executive;
  3. the Higher Education Funding Council;
  4. the Secretary of State for Education;
  5. the National Audit Office;
  6. the employee or worker’s local Member of Parliament;
  7. the Charity Commissioners.
4.2
The University would be entitled to consider disciplinary action against the employee or worker raising the allegation in circumstances when:

(i) he/she is shown to have acted maliciously, vexatiously or frivolously; or

(ii) the allegations are manifestly untrue; or

(iii) he/she is acting for personal gain.

4.3
The University would be entitled to consider disciplinary action if an employee or worker, either as a result of a formal external disclosure, or as the result of anonymous action inside or outside the University, cannot demonstrate:

(i) that the alleged breach of conduct was so exceptionally serious as to justify bypassing internal procedures and any future external procedures named by the Secretary of State;

(ii) that he/she reasonably believed that relevant evidence would be concealed or destroyed by the University;

(iii) that he/she would be subject to detrimental treatment by the University for raising the issue internally whilst acting in good faith, believing the allegation to be substantially true, and not acting for personal gain; or

(iv) that it was reasonable to have disclosed the information to the person concerned.

5. DISCIPLINARY OUTCOMES

(i) If, on completion of the investigation, it is considered that a complaint of misconduct is justified, a disciplinary hearing will be arranged under the Disciplinary Procedures.

(ii) Any victimisation of an employee or worker who raises a concern, or attempts to deter him/her from raising a legitimate concern about malpractice, will be regarded as a serious disciplinary offence and will result in action under the Disciplinary Procedures.

(iii) If the investigating officer finds that the employee or worker making the allegation has acted maliciously, and/or for personal gain, and/or that the allegations were manifestly untrue, he/she will be subject to the Disciplinary Procedures. Additionally, the Disciplinary Procedures may also be invoked under the circumstances outlined in 4.3. Consideration will be given as appropriate to use of the University’s Investigation Procedures prior to any disciplinary action.

Effective date: June 2010


Section 6.5

INVESTIGATION PROCEDURES

1. SCOPE AND PURPOSE

1. Scope and Purpose

1.1 These procedures apply to formal investigations conducted as part of the University's Grievance, Harassment, Whistle-blowing, Disciplinary and Dismissal Procedures.

1.2 Occasionally there may be a need to investigate a particular situation, which is not immediately related to one of the procedures listed above. These investigation procedures will also be used as a guide in such cases.

1.3 The procedures provide guidance for the person carrying out the investigation (the investigating officer).

1.4 The procedures are intended to ensure consistent, fair, and impartial treatment for all parties.

1.5 The general purpose of an investigation is to establish and to clarify the issues involved and, as far as possible, the facts of a situation.

1.6 The outcome of the investigation will normally be a report by the investigating officer, which will be considered by the manager who initiated the investigation. The initiating manager and not the investigating officer will normally decide if further action is appropriate.

2. Investigating Officer

2.1 The appointment of the investigating officer must be agreed by either the Director (HR) or the Head of Personnel and Staff Development, who may decide that the investigation will be carried out by a person external to the University. This may be to ensure timeliness and/or because specialist skills (eg accounting skills, dealing with sexual abuse) are required and/or because of particular difficulties or sensitivities.

2.2 The investigating officer will have received training in conducting investigations and/or be experienced in carrying out investigations. The University will maintain a pool of fully trained internal investigators.

2.3 The investigating officer will be impartial and not normally have had any prior involvement with the situation being investigated or have a conflict of interest.

2.4 The investigating officer will normally be of a grade at least equivalent to the highest grade of the parties directly involved, or if an external appointee of similar seniority.

2.5 The extent of the investigation will normally be limited to that required for the investigating officer to be able to provide the appropriate manager with sufficient information for them to be able to determine whether the issues being investigated have substance.

3. Investigation Process

3.1 When the investigating officer meets with individuals they have the right to be accompanied/ represented by a Trade Union representative or work colleague.

3.2 The investigating officer may be accompanied by a note taker at meetings conducted in the course of the investigation. Notes of meetings will normally be limited to recording the principal points of discussion.

3.3 The investigating officer may, at his/her discretion, meet with people not directly involved but who may be able to provide relevant information.

3.4 If in the course of an investigation further facts come to light which lead the investigating officer to think that there may be a case of gross misconduct, or a serious malicious, frivolous or vexatious claim, this should be discussed with the Director (HR).

4. Timescales

4.1 In the interests of ensuring that any matter is resolved as speedily as possible, time limits are given within the appropriate University procedures. If it is not practicable to adhere to them they may be amended, ideally by agreement of all parties. Where difficult or sensitive investigations are being carried out by an independent person external to the University revised timescales may be necessary, ideally, by mutual agreement.

4.2 The investigating officer will give a least 2 working days' notice of meetings related to the investigation and will seek to take account of the availability of individuals and, if applicable, Trade Union representative or work colleague. It is expected that meetings with the investigating officer will be given a high priority and that the investigating officer will give priority attention to the task.

5. Taking Statements

5.1 The investigating officer is encouraged to obtain brief written statements from those who have relevant information. These statements must be signed and dated by the individuals making the statement

5.2 Unsubstantiated opinion or hearsay, information provided anonymously or in confidence must be treated with caution during the investigation.

5.3 The factual accuracy of reports of individual meetings/interviews will be confirmed by the investigating officer with those involved before being included in the report of the investigation.

6. Confidentiality

6.1 In the course of the investigation confidentiality must be maintained as far as is consistent with the matters being investigated.

6.2 are should be taken to ensure the confidentiality of the process, the report and elements of it. This applies particularly when using email, and electronic transmission of personal confidential information which is not encrypted should be avoided.

7. Conclusions

7.1 On conclusion of the investigation the investigating officer will produce a written report for the manager who initiated the investigation. The report will summarise the issues investigated, the facts established and include any documentation and written statements gathered in the course of interviews. The investigating officer may make recommendations, but may not make a determination.

7.2 If the investigation is being carried out under Stage 2 of the Harassment Procedures the investigating officer is also responsible for determining the outcome and when the investigation has been completed he/she will normally meet with the complainant and other parties separately to explain his/her conclusions and decision. This will be confirmed in writing within 5 working days and include a summary of reasons for reaching a decision.

Effective date: 3 June 2008


Personnel Handbook

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