Dignity at work

                  Dignity at Work Policy

Name of Policy
Dignity at Work Policy
Reviewed by
Fionnuala Kennedy
October 2023
Date of next review
September 2024

This policy applies to Junior School, Senior School and EYFS



This policy relates to the bullying and harassment of employees in the workplace and in any work-related setting outside the workplace, eg business trips and work-related social events, and applies to all employees of the Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST). It is also available for use by other individuals performing functions in relation to the GDST, such as agency workers and contractors. Separate policies exist for complaints against members of staff and for the disclosure of suspected malpractice in the workplace.

The GDST is committed to creating a work environment free of bullying and harassment, where everyone is treated with dignity and respect. The GDST will not tolerate bullying or harassment of any kind, or victimisation of a person for making allegations in good faith of bullying or harassment, or supporting someone in making such a complaint. All complaints or suspicions of bullying, harassment and victimisation will be treated seriously and investigated promptly and fairly. All bullying and harassment is misconduct, and is a disciplinary offence which will be dealt with under the disciplinary procedure.

The GDST will treat complaints of bullying and harassment sensitively and maintain confidentiality to the maximum extent possible.

Complaints made by employees should be treated as confidential by all parties involved and should not be discussed with other employees unless necessary for the investigation or resolution of the complaint. All employees should be aware that in making a complaint, their identity and the nature of the allegations must be revealed to the alleged harasser so that they may respond to the allegations.


The GDST has a duty of care for its employees, and is responsible for ensuring the physical and psychological health, safety and welfare of employees at work under health and safety legislation.

The GDST will not unlawfully discriminate against any employee on the grounds of race, nationality, colour, ethnic or national origin, age, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, religion, belief or disability in any matters to do with employment. It is unlawful to victimise someone because he or she has alleged unlawful discrimination or supported someone in making a complaint or giving evidence in relation to a complaint.

What are bullying, harassment and victimisation?

Bullying is offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, or an abuse or misuse of power which is meant to undermine, humiliate or injure the recipient. Examples of bullying include (but are not limited to), picking on someone or setting him / her up to fail, or making threats or comments about someone's job security without good reason. However, this does not include legitimate and constructive criticism relating to an individual’s performance or behaviour at work. It is recognised that differences of opinion, outbursts of bad temper, etc may occur from time to time in any normal working environment, and will normally be resolved through informal processes.

Harassment is unwanted conduct related to sex, race or ethnic or national origins, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief, age or any other personal characteristic which violates people’s dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. Examples of harassment include (but are not limited to), physical contact ranging from unwelcome touching to serious assault, unwelcome sexual advances, demeaning comments about a person's appearance, unwelcome jokes or comments of a sexual or racial nature, the use of obscene gestures, and the open display of pictures or objects with sexual or racial overtones, even if not directed at any particular person.

It is important to remember that conduct may be considered to be harassment whether or not the person behaving in that way intends to offend. Something intended as a 'joke' may offend another person, as different people find different things acceptable. Again, it is hoped that most incidents can be resolved informally.

Victimisation is treating someone less favourably than others because he / she has, in good faith, complained (whether formally or otherwise) that someone has been bullying or harassing him or her or someone else, or supported someone to make a complaint or given evidence in relation to a complaint. Examples of victimisation might include (but are not limited to), isolating someone because he or she has made a complaint, overloading him / her with work, or giving him / her demeaning work.

Provided that employees act in good faith, i.e. there is a genuine belief that the complaint is true, employees have a right not to be victimised for making a complaint or supporting a complaint of bullying or harassment. The GDST will take appropriate action to deal with any alleged victimisation, which may include investigation and disciplinary action. Maliciously making a false allegation, or giving evidence which you know to be untrue, is a disciplinary offence.

Informal Procedure

Employees who wish to report incidences of bullying or harassment should do so informally and in confidence to their line manager, the Head or an appropriate member of staff at Trust Office in the first instance. The manager will take whatever steps may be necessary to resolve the issue informally. The GDST knows that it is never easy to make allegations about another employee’s behaviour, particularly if it is considered offensive and unwelcome. The GDST's Employee Assistance Scheme can also be contacted confidentially for advice if employees are unsure of what to do. Contractors should report any concerns to the School Business Manager or a member of the Trust Office Senior Management Team.

If employees are not satisfied with the outcome of an informal discussion, or if for any other reason it is felt inappropriate to bring forward the issue on an informal basis, the matter should be raised in accordance with the following procedure.

Formal Procedure

Stage 1

Complainants should approach their line manager. If it is the complainant’s line manager’s behaviour or conduct that is the cause of complaint or for any other reason the complainant does not wish to approach their line manager, then the complainant proceeds straight to stage 2. The complainant has the right to bring a companion* to any meeting dealing with their complaint, and a record of any investigatory meetings will be kept.

The complainant’s line manager will arrange for an investigation of the matter (either by investigating the matter her or himself or immediately passing the issue to another more appropriate person to investigate), which may involve the complainant giving a written statement of the type of behaviour that has caused offence with details of when and where incidences took place, and if there were any witnesses. Where possible, the complainant should be given the option of being interviewed in an investigative meeting by either a male or female manager, taking into account gender sensitive issues. The alleged harasser will be given a clear statement of the nature and detail of the complaint against him or her, and be given the opportunity to respond in a confidential meeting, with a companion* present if s / he wishes.

The line manager (or the person who carried out the investigation) will then report to the Head or a member of the Senior Management Team at Trust Office as appropriate, who will initiate any necessary action against the alleged harasser, such as invoking the GDST’s disciplinary procedure. On conclusion of any investigation, the complainant and alleged harasser will be told the outcome of the investigation and what action is being taken. If no action is to be taken, the reason for this will be explained to both parties.

Stage 2

If it is the complainant’s line manager’s behaviour or conduct that is the cause of complaint, (or s/he has failed to make a proper investigation or to report properly the outcome of the investigation), the complainant should inform the Head or a member of the Senior Management Team at Trust Office who will arrange for another manager to investigate or review an investigation already carried out, and make his or her own report as in stage 1 above. If for any other reason the complainant does not wish to approach their line manager, the Head or a member of the Senior Management Team at Trust Office should be contacted as above.

Stage 3

If it is the Head’s or another senior manager’s behaviour or conduct that is the cause of complaint, or if for any reason the complainant does not wish to approach them, either the Chief Executive Officer of the GDST or another member of the Senior Management Team at Trust Office should be informed, who will arrange for another manager to investigate or review an investigation already carried out, and make his or her own report as in stage 1 above. This decision shall be final.

Wherever possible, the GDST will try to ensure that the complainant and the alleged harasser are not required to work together whilst the complaint is under investigation. The alleged harasser may be suspended on full pay in suspected cases of gross misconduct, or to facilitate investigation, or for other urgent cause, pending a disciplinary hearing. Suspension is not in itself regarded as disciplinary action, and continuing suspension will be reviewed in line with the disciplinary procedure.

* “companion” includes a trade union representative, a colleague, a member of the employee’s family, a legal representative or any other individual the employee wishes.


If the complaint is not upheld, the outcome will be recorded on the alleged harasser’s personal file, but any other details will be removed. If the complaint is upheld, and the person found to have bullied or harassed remains in the GDST's employment, every effort will be made to minimise the amount of time in which both parties work alongside each other (where possible), and possible options will be discussed. The person found to have bullied or harassed will have the right of appeal in line with the disciplinary procedure, and complainants will not be informed of the level of disciplinary action taken. In all circumstances the Personnel Department will support the complainant, the alleged harasser and managers in making arrangements for all parties to continue or resume working and to help repair working relationships.

This procedure may be amended from time to time by the GDST, in order to reflect changes in statutory requirements or organisational changes within the GDST. Substantive changes will only be made following consultation with appropriate employee representatives.

Useful contacts

Work-life Support (tel. 08000 856 148)

UK National Workplace Advice line (tel. 01235 212286)

Andrea Adams Trust (tel. 01273 704900)