Harassment Advisory Network

The University recognises and values the contribution Harassment Advisors make both to the University and the welfare of its staff/students.

Purpose

Harassment Advisors are staff and student representatives who have been specially trained to provide support if anyone feels they are being bullied or harassed in any way. Advisors will not be expected to resolve the issues but support employees/students to help empower them to take control of the situation, within an open and supportive culture.

The Harassment Advisory Network will meet three times a year to facilitate mutual support and share their experience for best practice.

Appointment of advisors

Harassment Advisors will be members of staff and a member of the Students' Union who volunteer to be part of the Harassment Advisory Network. Harassment Advisors are accountable to the Director of Human Resources. This role is carried out in addition to an employee's substantive post and therefore does not attract any further remuneration.

Training

Harassment Advisers will receive training on how to support an employee/student who believes they may be suffering harassment, which will include understanding and developing active listening skills and how to advise on the options available to help them address the situation.

Harassment advisor's main duties and responsibilities

  • To be a first point of contact for any employee/student who thinks that they are being bullied or harassed in the workplace.
  • To be available to employees/students, either in person or via the telephone, during normal working hours.
  • To actively listen and discuss the situation in a non-judgmental manner, from an independent perspective.
  • To help the individual identify and summarise the key aspects of the situation.
  • To provide clear information and outline possible options to the individual. To support the individual in choosing the appropriate course of action for them.
  • To provide information and advice to the individual on the organisational policies and procedures.
  • To act as a signpost for information, putting employees in touch with the appropriate resource(s) to gain help and advice.
  • To refer the member of staff to the appropriate place if the individual wishes to take the matter further.
  • To monitor and review contact with the individual, checking that they have received the appropriate assistance and establishing any requirement for further contact.
  • To provide to the Director of Human Resources, on a six monthly basis numbers of staff/students seen with brief details of the issues and if known how resolved.
  • To act as a 'buddy' to other Harassment Advisors for the purpose of mutual support.
  • To attend training in relation to the University's Harassment Policy and the role of Harassment Advisor.

Person specification

Qualifications/experience

Essential:

  • attendance on BSU training for Harassment Advisors

Desirable:

  • previous experience of a similar role
  • a counselling or similar qualification

Skills and knowledge

Essential:

  • questioning and listening skills

Personal qualities

Essential:

  • approachable
  • clear communicator

What to do if approached by an employee/student who believes they are suffering from harassment

If an employee/student approaches you for advice you should:

  • tell them that the conversation is confidential unless where you consider, which will be in exceptional circumstances, that there is an unacceptable risk to either the employee/student, or another employee or student of the University
  • listen carefully to the points that are made. Reassure the employee/student that sharing their problem is the right thing to do and that bullying/harassing behaviour by anyone is not their fault
  • allow the person to explain the way they feel
  • seek clarification on exactly what aspect(s) of the behaviour are felt to be unacceptable
  • explore what changes in behaviour they believe are required
  • remain calm and avoid aggravating what is a difficult situation
  • discuss options available to the employee/students - which could include:
    1. doing nothing if the employee/student feels this was a one off and out of character
    2. keeping a written record of all relevant incidents to include date, time and any witnesses
    3. approaching the person direct. This may involve role playing a particular situation and possible assertive responses.
    4. invoking the appropriate Grievance/Complaints Procedure. If this is being considered the employee/student may wish to contact the Director of Human Resources or an HR Advisor for further guidance. If a member of staff is being bullied or harassed by a student, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor responsible for academic matters will also be involved in the discussion. The matter may then be resolved informally. However if this is not possible the next step may be to formalise matters. This will only be done with the employee/student's knowledge and agreement.
  • agree whether another meeting with the employee/student is needed

What to do if asked to support an alleged harasser

If a formal allegation of harassment is made, the alleged harasser may approach an Advisor for support. In this situation as an Advisor you must not pre-judge the situation and reassure the individual that they will be given the opportunity to respond fully to the complaint. The alleged harasser will be provided with a copy of the complaint. Again as an Advisor you should:

  • listen carefully to the points that are made
  • allow the person to explain the way they feel
  • if they do not dispute the complaint seek clarification on exactly what aspect(s) of their behaviour may be considered unacceptable. Explore what changes in behaviour they believe are required and how this might enable them to work more effectively with the complainant
  • try to remain calm and avoid aggravating what is a difficult situation
  • remember the person being accused is likely to be upset, may feel that the complaint is unfounded or may not have realised/intended that their behaviour would have this affect on someone else. If appropriate it could be treated as a learning opportunity rather than a fault or something to be blamed for.
  • if there is a conflict of interest the Advisor should ask the member of staff to approach another Advisor.

What to do/what not to do

What to doWhat not to do
Remain calm, but show concern. Ensure the member of staff/student that they have done the right thing by sharing the problem and that they are not to blame Do not panic or over-react. Try not to appear shocked, upset or angry
Listen to the employee/student and ask them what they want to do Do not tell the employee/student what to do
Provide the employee/student with information on the options available. Do not make the decision for the employee/ student
Support the employee/student with the decision they make Do not try and deal with the situation yourself
Keep the information shared with you confidential unless there is a risk to other staff and/or students Do not tell work colleagues about the conversation