Adi Associates Environmental Consultants Ltd is committed to equality of opportunity and to creating and sustaining an environment where everyone is treated with respect and dignity, free from any form of inappropriate behaviour, and one in which all employees, business associates and clients can give of their best.
We acknowledge that unwanted, unreasonable and offensive conduct detracts from a productive working environment and can affect the health, confidence, morale and performance of employees. The aim of this Policy is to make employees, business associates and clients aware of the types of behaviour that might cause offence, and to highlight the sources of information and assistance which are available, and the procedures for dealing with inappropriate behaviour.
What type of behaviour may affect dignity at work?
This Policy is deliberately broad in scope and addresses:
Any form of unwanted, unreasonable and offensive conduct that has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.
A variety of terms can be used to describe unwanted, unreasonable and offensive conduct, including harassment, bullying, discrimination and victimisation.
What is harassment?
Harassment is unwanted, unreasonable and offensive conduct that is linked to aspects of a person’s social identity, in relation to: gender, age, sexual orientation, gender-identity, disability, race or ethnic origin, or religion / belief.
What is bullying?
Where unwanted conduct is not linked to a person’s social identity then it is often referred to as bullying. Bullying is generally accepted to be persistent offensive, abusive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour which makes a person feel upset, threatened, humiliated or vulnerable, which undermines a person’s self confidence and which may cause a person to suffer stress.
Legitimate, constructive and fair criticism of performance or behaviour at work is not bullying. Isolated incidents of unreasonable behaviour, such as abruptness, sharpness or rudeness, whilst totally unacceptable, is also not bullying. Many of these are legitimate employment relations difficulties that, wherever possible, should be dealt with in the first instance by letting the person know how their behaviour has made you feel. Only offensive behaviour which is persistent should be regarded as bullying.
What is discrimination?
Discrimination is unlawful when a person is treated less favourably or unfairly compared to others on the grounds of gender, age, sexual orientation, gender-identity, disability, race or ethnic origin, or religion / belief. It can be direct or indirect. Direct discrimination occurs where a person is treated less favourably than another person in a comparable situation. Indirect discrimination is taken to occur where an apparently neutral provision, criterion or practice puts a person at a particular disadvantage compared with other persons (unless that provision, criterion or practice is objectively justified by a legitimate aim and the means of achieving that aim are appropriate and necessary).
What is sexual discrimination?
Cap 456 – Equality for Men and Women Act 2003, defines discrimination based on sex, or because of family responsibilities, as:
- the giving of less favourable treatment, directly or indirectly, to men and women on the basis of their sex or because of family responsibilities;
- treating a woman less favourably for reasons of actual or potential pregnancy or childbirth;
- treating men and women less favourably on the basis of parenthood, family responsibility or for some other reason related to sex; and / or
- any treatment based on a provision, criterion or practice which disadvantages a substantially higher proportion of members of one sex unless that provision, criterion or practice is appropriate and necessary and can be justified by objective factors unrelated to sex.
What is victimisation?
Victimisation occurs where a person who has made a complaint, or assisted a complainant, is treated less favourably than others as a consequence.
Forms of unwanted, unreasonable and offensive conduct
The following list provides guidance as to the common forms of unwanted, unreasonable and offensive conduct dealt with under this Policy:
- unwanted physical contact (ranging from unnecessary touching to serious assault);
- use of verbal or physical threats or abuse (including political, racial or sexually derogatory or stereotyped remarks and statements or offensive terminology relating to people with a disability);
- jokes or remarks related to age, or that that have a lewd, racist, sectarian or disability content, or which contain innuendo or mockery;
- unwanted, intrusive questioning of a person about their sexual interests or orientation, gender-identity, marital status, age, religious belief, political opinion, race or ethnic origin;
- coercion, including suggestions that sexual favours may further a person’s career or that not providing them may adversely affect their career;
- visual display of pornographic, sexually explicit or suggestive pictures, objects or written material (including the use of e-mail to send such material), political posters, graffiti, obscene gestures, flags, emblems, and the wearing of distinctive clothing which may be deemed offensive by others;
- isolation and / or non co-operation at work, including exclusion from work-related social activities;
- use of implicit or explicit behaviour to control, influence or affect the career of another person over whom they have actual or perceived authority;
- persistent and unreasonable criticism of a person;
- unreasonable demands and impossible targets; and
- refusing to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate a disabled person.
Cap 456 – Equality for Men and Women Act 2003, makes it unlawful for any person to sexually harass other persons, defined as:
- to subject other persons to an act of physical intimacy; or
- to request sexual favours from other persons; or
- to subject other persons to any act or conduct with sexual connotations, including spoken words, gestures or the production, display or circulation of any written words, pictures or other material, where the act, words or conduct is unwelcome to the persons to whom they are directed and could reasonably be regarded as offensive, humiliating or intimidating to the persons to whom they are directed; or
- the persons so subjected or requested are treated less favourably by reason of such persons’ rejection of or submission to such subjection or request, it could reasonably be anticipated that such persons would be so treated.
What can you do if you feel your dignity at work has been affected?
If you feel you have been subjected to unwanted, unreasonable and offensive conduct you should discuss your concerns with the Company’s Equality Representative, unless this is the person who has caused the problem, in which case you should speak to one of the Directors. Other sources of help and assistance are the National Council for the Promotion of Equality (NCPE).
We will always assume that complaints have been made in good faith unless there is evidence to the contrary. If it becomes apparent that an accusation was deliberately false, mischievous or vexatious, and was not due to a misunderstanding or genuine mistake, it will be treated as a serious matter and may lead to disciplinary action.
What can you do if you are advised that your conduct is offensive?
If you are advised that your behaviour is considered to be offensive, you should treat this as a serious matter and do all you can to resolve the situation at an early stage. You can speak to the Company’s Equality Representative for advice and / or guidance. You can also talk to the National Council for the Promotion of Equality (NCPE).
There are a number of things for you to consider, including:
- remember that if a person feels offended by your behaviour, the feelings are very real to them, therefore try to remain calm and objective, be open and receptive to the comments being made;
- do not try to convince the complainant that the complaint is invalid, or to withdraw it, as this may amount to victimisation;
- look at your behaviour to see how it might have given rise to the complaint and how it might be modified;
- an informal meeting often presents an opportunity to clarify actions or behaviour and an apology, for example, if your behaviour has been misinterpreted, often remedies the situation; and
- you may wish to keep a record of any discussions or meetings that take place subsequent to being approached.
What can you do if you witness offensive conduct?
All our employees, business associates and clients have a role in creating and sustaining a working environment in which persons are treated with dignity and respect. If you witness inappropriate behaviour it is important that you should try to discourage it by:
- making it clear that you find the behaviour unacceptable;
- showing support to persons who suffer such treatment;
- reporting the incident to Adi Associates’ Equality Representative and / or the Directors; and
- making a personal note of what happened (this will be useful if you are later asked to provide information as part of an investigation into a formal complaint).
Rights, roles and responsibilities
Every employee, business associate and client has the right to work in an environment free from unwanted, unreasonable and offensive conduct that may violate his / her dignity or create an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. Adi Associates fully recognises the right of employees, business associates and clients to raise a complaint about such behaviour if it occurs and all complaints will be dealt with seriously and as quickly as possible.
There are various legal remedies available to persons subjected to unwanted, unreasonable and offensive conduct in the workplace and the procedures accompanying this Policy do not prevent employees, business associates and clients from exercising those rights.
Rights in relation to equality and discrimination are covered by the following legislation:
- Cap 456 – Equality for Men and Women Act 2003;
- Legal Notice 85 of 2007 – Equal Treatment of Persons Order; and
- Legal Notice 181 of 2008 – Access to Goods and Services and their Supply (Equal Treatment) Regulations.
The following responsibilities apply in relation to this Dignity at Work Policy:
- Employees: have a responsibility in helping to create and sustain a working environment in which all persons are treated with dignity and respect. Employees should contribute to preventing inappropriate behaviour by ensuring that their own standards of conduct do not cause offence, and they should discourage inappropriate behaviour by others by making it clear that they find such actions unacceptable and by supporting persons who suffer such treatment. It is the responsibility of all Adi Associates employees to be aware of the Company’s Dignity at Work Policy, including through their attendance at any training event organised by Adi Associates in relation to equality and discrimination.
- Equality Representative and Directors: have a responsibility to make every effort to ensure that unwanted, unreasonable and offensive behaviour does not occur. The Equality Representative and the Directors should set a good example by treating all employees, business associates and clients with dignity and respect. They should act on alleged incidents of unwanted, unreasonable and offensive behaviour which come to their attention, from whatever source, by taking prompt and appropriate action to end the behaviour, in a timely and sensitive manner, supporting and reassuring the persons involved. Following the resolution of a complaint, the Equality Representative and the Directors have a responsibility to monitor the situation to ensure that further problems or victimisation of anyone involved does not occur.
The Equality Representative and the Directors have a responsibility to ensure that all employees, business associates and clients are made aware of the Company’s Dignity at Work Policy, including through arranging for appropriate training for employees in relation to equality and discrimination. It is also the responsibility of the Equality Representative and the Directors to monitor and review the Policy.
- Business associates: have a responsibility in helping to create and sustain a working environment in which all persons are treated with dignity and respect. Business associates should contribute to preventing inappropriate behaviour by ensuring that their own standards of conduct do not cause offence, and they should discourage inappropriate behaviour by others by making it clear that they find such actions unacceptable and by supporting persons who suffer such treatment. It is the responsibility of all Adi Associates business associates to make themselves aware of the Company’s Dignity at Work Policy.
- Clients: have a responsibility to respect, act in accordance with, and thereby support and promote the spirit and intentions of the Policy. It is the responsibility of all Adi Associates clients to make themselves aware of the Company’s Dignity at Work Policy.
Monitoring, evaluation and review
Adi Associates’ commitment to ensuring dignity at work is an active one. We will regularly monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of this Dignity at Work Policy, will seek to keep up to date with new developments in equality and discrimination practice, and will actively seek information on this issue.
As part of our active commitment to ensuring dignity at work, the Dignity at Work Policy will be reviewed every two years, or more regularly as the need arises, to ensure that it remains relevant and effective.
If you have any questions or comments regarding this Dignity at Work Policy, please contact Adi Associates’ Equality Representative.
We declare that Adi Associates Environmental Consultants Ltd will implement this Policy and will make every effort to ensure that unwanted, unreasonable and offensive behaviour does not occur with the workplace of this organisation and in relation to all dealings with our employees, business associates and clients.