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Should your attempts to address the issue informally prove unsuccessful, have a confidential discussion with a senior colleague you can trust or contact ATL for help. It will be useful to establish whether other colleagues are having similar problems; if so, you might consider taking collective action on the matter.
Policies and procedures
Every school should have a policy and procedure to deal with issues arising from the bullying and harassment of staff.
The policy and procedure will only be useful and effective if the staff know about, understand and, if necessary, use it. Schools must be encouraged to ensure that, once adopted, their policies and procedures are publicised, readily available, renewed regularly and accessible. Training on the contents of the policy ≠ and refresher training ≠ is also important and should form a part of any new member of staff's induction.
This comprehensive approach promotes fairness and equality in the workplace. It is also a safeguard for schools that can be liable for the actions of their staff, even when they have no knowledge of their unlawful behaviour. By taking reasonable steps to prevent this behaviour ≠ by promoting the policy, training, etc ≠ the school can show that it took reasonable steps to prevent it.
Your school's policy and procedure should:
Every school should have standards for handling the complaint and investigation including:
If the school operates a bullying and harassment policy and procedure that is separate from a disciplinary procedure, it must be clear which will take precedence. In almost all cases it is likely that the bullying and harassment procedure will take precedence and pending its completion, any disciplinary procedure should be suspended. Also:
The policy should make provision, where a properly conducted investigation has established that bullying has taken place, for the bullying to be treated as a disciplinary matter. If your school has such a policy, you may be able to make the case that the behaviour of the person bullying you constitutes professional misconduct. If there is no such policy, one way to take the issue forward is to invoke a grievance against the relevant individual or individuals. If your school does not have full contractual documents and/or a handbook with a specified disciplinary and grievance procedure, contact ATL if you are a member.
You also have the statutory right to be accompanied by a colleague or trade union representative at disciplinary and grievance hearings.
Using the grievance procedure
ATL advises its members not to invoke grievance proceedings without first consulting your ATL rep, branch secretary or staff at ATLís London, Belfast or Cardiff offices.
Whatever the outcome, tensions are likely to remain. ATL can provide support during this traumatic time, but the pressure on the person who has invoked the grievance can be intense.
ATL therefore makes every effort to resolve matters without recourse to formal procedures. Some teachers fear the worst if management finds out that they have approached their union for advice. If this is worrying you, bear in mind that all employees have the right to join a union, that you do not have to disclose your union membership to your employer and that any discussion with ATL is confidential.
For full details please access ATL's comprehensive publication, Bullying at work.
Help and support
For further advice on this issue, ATL members can speak to their school rep, their branch secretary or their regional official. They can also call the London (020 7930 6441), Cardiff (029 2046 5000), Belfast (028 9078 2020) or Edinburgh (0131 272 2748) offices or email email@example.com
For out of hours enquiries, call the out of office hours helpline on 020 7782 1612 (Monday-Friday, 5-8pm during term time).
If you are not a member, join now.