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Last updated on 19 August 2019
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Use our model policy to help you deal with incidents of workplace harassment and bullying confidently and consistently, so you can give your workforce the support they need.

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Updates to this policy

On 19 August 2019, we updated this policy to broaden its scope so that it protects volunteers, job applicants, job seekers, those in training, and former members of the school workforce. If you had already adopted our model policy, use our summary of what we've changed and why (see 'Downloads'), to help you decide what changes you need to make.

Download our model policy

It's designed for you to adapt to suit your school's context. We developed it with Forbes SolicitorsNAHT and our associate expert Clive Dobbin. It's been approved by Forbes Solicitors.

Please note: you should consult with the unions represented at your school before implementing any new policy regarding the employment of staff.

Dignity at work or grievance?

As noted in section 7 of our model policy, it's for the school to decide whether a formal complaint will be dealt with under the dignity at work policy or the school's grievance procedures. You'll need to decide this on a case-by-case basis.

As a rough guide, you should deal with complaints about harassment, bullying or victimisation under the dignity at work policy. Having a standalone policy for these types of issues can help to show your commitment to ensuring that you won't tolerate them in your school, potentially putting you in a stronger position in the rare situation that a case goes to an employment tribunal.

Complaints about other work-related issues, such as processes or the way work is being managed or carried out by others, are likely to fall under your grievance procedures.

Your responsibilities

Employers are responsible for the health, safety and welfare at work of all employees under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

You're also required to publish information to demonstrate how you're complying with the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) in eliminating discrimination and other conduct prohibited by the Equality Act 2010.

You don't have to have a dignity at work policy, but having one can support you to meet these requirements.

ILO convention against violence and harassment in the workplace

The International Labour Organisation (part of the United Nations) has adopted a convention on eliminating violence and harassment at work, and has published recommendations alongside this. 

The convention isn't legally binding until the UK government ratifies it, which it hasn't done yet. 

If the UK government does ratify the convention, it may then pass additional legislation to help put aspects of the convention and recommendations into practice. 

Until then, you don't need to do anything. We'll keep you up to date on any developments (click 'save for later' for email updates).


Clive Dobbin is a partner at Paris Smith LLP solicitors in Southampton, where he's head of the employment department. He has extensive experience of advising schools and colleges, as well as considerable experience as a governor. He's also acted as a clerk to governors.

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The Key has taken great care in publishing this article. However, some of the article's content and information may come from or link to third party sources whose quality, relevance, accuracy, completeness, currency and reliability we do not guarantee. Accordingly, we will not be held liable for any use of or reliance placed on this article's content or the links or downloads it provides. This article may contain information sourced from public sector bodies and licensed under the Open Government Licence.