As part of its overall commitment to equality of opportunity, Mitzvah Day Charitable Trust (“Mitzvah Day”) is dedicated to promoting a safe, collaborative and mutually respectful working environment in which everyone is free from bullying, discrimination, victimisation and harassment of all forms (including sexual harassment), and where everyone is accountable for preventing and ensuring that these behaviours are not tolerated.
Mitzvah Day aims to create a workplace where everyone is treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, transgender status, marital or family status, colour, race, nationality, ethnic or national origins, creed, culture, religion or belief, age, disability or any other personal factor or quality. Similarly, no employee should be the subject of victimisation, i.e. less favourable treatment as a result of raising, or giving evidence in connection with a complaint, either in relation to themselves or a colleague.
Mitzvah Day strives to be a workplace where every individual can realize their full potential. As such, Mitzvah Day is committed to promoting equality of opportunity in all our policies, practices and procedures. This policy should be read in conjunction with our Staff Handbook and other appropriate policies (including but not limited to our Disciplinary Policy, Grievance Procedures and Equal Opportunities Policy).
Further to this, Mitzvah Day has a duty to protect employees from bullying, harassment, discrimination, and victimisation, in any form and will not tolerate any such behaviour. As such, we have developed this policy to go alongside the above-mentioned policies. The above behaviours are all considered a serious violation of our core values and principles and everyone involved with Mitzvah Day is encouraged to challenge inappropriate behaviour and take action if they or a colleague are being harassed. Every allegation will be investigated properly and in accordance with this policy.
All employees have a personal responsibility to create a working environment that is free of bullying, harassment, discrimination, and victimisation. Mitzvah Day expects that those staff and non-staff members in prominent positions, respect their position and should not abuse their authority in any way. Any individual who uses actual or perceived power and status disparities to bully, victimise, discriminate or harass another individual will be sanctioned accordingly. Furthermore, Mitzvah Day believes everyone in our workplace should be protected from these behaviours, regardless of whether or not they are an employee or working in any other capacity.
Mitzvah Day seeks to provide a working environment free from harassment, bullying and intimidation. This policy covers sexual harassment and any other form of harassment, bullying, discrimination, or victimisation in the following contexts:
- anywhere on Mitzvah Day’s premises.
- at any Mitzvah Day affiliated project;
- anywhere during work-related social events, business events or business trips in the UK or abroad;
- anywhere where an incident involves two or more individuals, where all parties are directly employed by, or involved with, Mitzvah Day in some capacity (trustees, donors, volunteers, contractors) and at least one of the parties is directly employed by Mitzvah Day.
This policy applies to employees, contractors, consultants, interns, volunteers, job applicants, temporary staff, agency and casual workers, Trustees, agents speakers, alumni, programme facilitators, donors, security agencies and any other person, representatives or bodies involved with Mitzvah Day. If you are an employee, this policy does not form part of your contract of employment. We reserve the right to amend it at any time.
It is important to first understand what constitutes bullying, harassment, victimisation and discrimination in order to understand how it might occur in the workplace.
Bullying may be characterised as offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse of power or misuse of power through means intended to undermine, humiliate, denigrate, or injure the recipient. It can take various forms, including physical, verbal and non-verbal conduct, from extreme behaviour involving violence and intimidation, through to subtle actions such as deliberate exclusion.
The statutory definition of harassment is set out in the Equality Act 2010. Harassment is unwanted conduct affecting the dignity of employees in the workplace. It may be related to sex, age, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, race, disability, religion, nationality or any other protected characteristic in accordance with the Equality Act of an individual. It is typically persistent and continues to develop over a period of time. However, an isolated incident that is particularly serious can in itself constitute harassment.
Examples of harassment can include name-calling, lewd comments, excluding colleagues, making insensitive jokes or displaying pornographic material. Physical, verbal and non-verbal conduct can all amount to harassment, including things you said or done to third parties or online, including on social media. Often harassment is targeted at a particular individual. However, a prevailing workplace or learning culture where, for example, the telling of racist jokes or homophobic comments is tolerated, can also constitute harassment.
Bullying or harassment may be by an individual against an individual (perhaps by someone in a position of authority such as a manager or supervisor) or involve groups of people. It may be obvious or it may be insidious. Whatever form it takes, it is unwarranted and unwelcome to the individual.
Victimisation is the act of subjecting an individual to a detriment or treating them badly because they, in good faith, complained (formally or informally) that someone was bullying/harassing them or someone else. Victimisation can also occur to an individual when they opt to support someone who has made a complaint, or they give evidence in relation to the complaint. An example would be a manager imposing an unreasonably heavy workload on an individual who is giving evidence in a hearing against them.
The Equality Act 2010 prohibits discrimination because of certain protected characteristics. These are:
- gender reassignment;
- marital or civil partnership status;
- religion or belief;
- sexual orientation;
- age; and
- pregnancy or maternity.
Discrimination can be intentional or unintentional and may occur directly, indirectly, by association, or by perception.
There are also two specific types of discrimination that apply only to disability: “discrimination arising from disability” and “failing to make reasonable adjustments”.
Discrimination is not always obvious and can be subtle and unconscious. This stems from a person’s general assumptions about the abilities, interests and characteristics of a particular group that influences how they treat those people (known as “unconscious bias”). Such assumptions or prejudices may cause them to apply requirements or conditions that put those in particular groups at a disadvantage.
- steering employees into particular types of work on the basis of stereotypical assumptions without considering the particular attributes and abilities of individuals;
- recruiting or promoting individuals into particular roles because of assumptions about the reactions or preferences of other employees or clients; and
- using different standards for different groups of employees to judge performance.
Sexual harassment is unwanted conduct of a sexual nature and the conduct results in the violation of the other’s dignity, or their actions create an intimidating, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the recipient.
It is important to note that sexual harassment is different from sex-based harassment. While sexual harassment relates to unwanted conduct of a sexual nature, sex-based harassment will be behaviour that is linked in some way to gender and causes offence to an individual. An example could be where an employee is constantly telling derogatory or demeaning jokes about women generally and a particular individual (regardless of gender) finds this unwelcome and offensive.
One single incident can amount to harassment, if it is sufficiently serious. It is important to note that a person’s behaviour may be perceived as harassment regardless of whether or not the individual intended to offend. This is simply because there are differences in what people deem as acceptable behaviour and everyone has the right to decide what behaviour they consider acceptable themselves.
However, conduct or behaviour which any reasonable person would likely be offended by will always constitute harassment without the need for the affected individual having to state that it was unacceptable, for example, sexual assault. Other forms of conduct may not always be so obvious, such as office banter and jokes. Office banter of a sexual nature is never acceptable. In these cases, the behaviour will constitute harassment if the conduct continues after the employee has made it clear, by words or by their conduct, that such behaviour is unacceptable to them; these are serious contraventions and should not be seen as harmless.
Any behaviour that makes you or any other person uncomfortable or makes you or them feel unsafe must stop. Sexual harassment is not limited to verbal or physical actions, it can also occur through social media platforms, email or text.
Examples of sexual harassment in the workplace include, but are not limited to, circumstances when someone:
- Insinuates, proposes or demands sexual favours of any kind;
- Invades another person’s personal space (e.g. inappropriate touching);
- Stalks, intimidates, coerces or threatens another person to get them to engage in sexual acts;
- Makes written or verbal comments of a sexual nature, such as remarks about an employee’s appearance, questions about their sex life, offensive jokes or requesting inappropriate levels of intimacy
- Sends or displays sexually explicit objects, pictures, photos, posters or messages;
- Comments on someone’s looks, dress, sexuality or gender in a derogatory or objectifying manner or a manner that makes them uncomfortable;
- Makes obscene comments, jokes or gestures that humiliate or offend someone;
- Spreads sexual rumours about another person
- Pursues or flirts with another person persistently without the other person’s willing participation. Also, flirting with someone at an inappropriate time (e.g. in a team meeting) is considered sexual harassment, even when these advances would have been welcome in a different setting. This is because such actions can harm a person’s professional reputation and expose them to further harassment;
- Indecent exposure; or
- Sexually assaults another person.
Please note the above list is not exhaustive.
Cases of sexual harassment may be treated as a criminal matter as well as an employment matter, dependent on the circumstances. If a complaint is reported to police, or criminal court proceedings are being pursued, we will still investigate the complaint fully and it will be dealt with accordingly.
Right to Report
Everyone either employed directly by, or associated with, Mitzvah Day has the right to lodge a complaint if they feel they are or have been harassed or have experienced bullying, discrimination, or victimisation. Reports of these behaviours by those not directly employed by Mitzvah Day will be treated with the same merit and investigated fully.
In addition to complaints about the behaviour of staff, individuals have the right to complain if they believe that they have been harassed, bullied, victimised or discriminated against by a third party, including, donors, contractors, volunteers, clients, suppliers, as well as any other person who will be in contact with any individual employed by Mitzvah Day during the course of their employment. etc. Mitzvah Day is responsible for ensuring that all necessary steps have been taken to protect individuals from third party harassment. We understand that reporting these incidents may be difficult, but you will be supported throughout should you wish to report it and this policy should give you confidence. Mitzvah Day recognises that there can be perceived or actual status disparities in the workplace. However, Mitzvah Day will not tolerate any individual using their position to harass another.
All individuals also have a responsibility and are encouraged to report any incidents of harassment that they experience or witness so that Mitzvah Day can investigate and resolve the matter. Each complaint will be taken seriously, and the individual will be protected and will not be penalised or victimised in any way. Furthermore, if you fail to report incidences which you have witnessed without good reason, and this is later discovered, you may face sanctions.
Reporting harassment, bullying, discrimination or victimisation will ultimately help the person who has experienced it and also hold the person perpetrating it responsible for their actions. Left unreported, those individuals that are harassing, bullying, victimising or discriminating against others can fall into a pattern of repeated and accepted behaviour, and the overall workplace atmosphere degenerates.
How to make a Complaint
Complaints of alleged harassment, bullying, discrimination or victimisation by employees should be made in line with Mitzvah Day’s Grievance Policy found in our Staff Handbook. Non-employees should report any incident of alleged harassment, bullying, victimisation or discrimination to Mitzvah Day’s Chief Executive Officer (the “Chief Executive”). If the complaint is in reference to the Chief Executive, this should be lodged with the Trustees on our Governance Sub-Committee (as at this date, Sharon Horwitz or Lucy Maislish).
Mitzvah Day has a duty to protect all employees, volunteers, trustees, donors and contractors. If the incident is sufficiently serious, Mitzvah Day may not require a complaint from the victim to instigate an investigation or disciplinary action. This is to ensure the safety of everyone in the workplace and the prevention of future potential incidents. However, the victim will be informed and supported throughout these processes. Also, if you change your mind after reporting, even informally or in confidence, Mitzvah Day may also choose to investigate anyway for the same reasons as mentioned above. We will, however, not do so without talking to you first.
In very serious cases, a criminal offence may have been committed and the employee may wish to report matters to the police. Mitzvah Day will continue to conduct its own separate investigation if this is the case.
It is imperative that any reports of harassment, bullying, victimisation or discrimination are made promptly so that it can be investigated quickly. The longer the delay the greater the risk of lack of corroboration either because of evidence or witnesses.
How the Complaint will be Handled
Confidentiality will be maintained during the investigatory process to the extent that this is practical and appropriate in the circumstances. However, Mitzvah Day must be able to determine the scope of the investigation and the individuals who should be informed of or interviewed about the allegation(s). For example, the identity of the complainant and the nature of the allegations must be revealed to the accused so that they are able to fairly respond to the allegations. Mitzvah Day reserves the right to determine who will conduct the investigation.
Depending on the circumstances, the decision may be made to suspend the accused. It is important to note, that a decision to invoke such measures will not be taken lightly and does not imply guilt. It is simply a safeguarding measure for all parties involved, including the accused, whilst the investigation is being conducted.
Once the investigation has been completed, the individual will be informed in writing of the outcome and Mitzvah Day’s conclusions and decision as soon as possible.
If an individual’s complaint is upheld and the person who is the subject of the complaint remains in Mitzvah Day’s employment, Mitzvah Day will take all reasonable steps to ensure that the individual does not have to continue to work alongside that person if they do not wish to do so. However, this may not be possible in all circumstances. Mitzvah Day will discuss the options with the individual.
If an employee’s complaint is not upheld, arrangements will be made for the employee and the alleged subject of the complaint to continue or resume working and to repair working relationships.
It is important to highlight that an individual will not be penalised if their complaint is not upheld. However, allegations that are found to be deliberately false or malicious in nature will be considered a disciplinary offence and will be dealt with in accordance with Mitzvah Day’s Disciplinary Policy.
Responsibility of Line Managers/CEO/Trustees
If the Chief Executive, a Trustee or a Line Manager receives a complaint of bullying, discrimination, victimisation or harassment, they have a duty to report and/or investigate the matter promptly, in line with this policy. The role of the investigator will be determined on a case-by-case basis, depending on the nature of the complaint and those involved. In some cases, for example, the complaint may be deemed sufficiently serious that the Chief Executive refers it to the board of Trustees for investigation.
Failure by the Chief Executive, a Trustee or a Line Manager to act on any incidences of harassment or bullying, victimisation or discrimination they become aware of will be treated as a disciplinary offence.
Those investigating must handle the matter thoroughly and objectively, whilst maintaining confidentiality to the maximum extent at all times and normally investigations will only require disclosure on a limited, need to know basis. The importance of confidentiality must be stressed to witnesses when conducting the investigation. The Chief Executive, the relevant Trustee or the Line Manager should be responsive, sensitive and supportive towards any employee who raises a complaint and be mindful of any unconscious bias that may affect their judgement.
Furthermore, all staff have a duty to always promote and foster an environment that is safe, collaborative and mutually respectful.
What happens if I am accused of harassment bullying, victimisation or discrimination?
If someone approaches you on an informal basis about your conduct/behaviour, do not disregard what they have said. There are occasions where actions or comments are not intended to offend, but harassment, bullying, victimisation or discrimination is about how they are perceived by the recipient. You may have offended someone without intending to and if that is the case an apology from you with an assurance that you will be more mindful in the future, may resolve the issue.
If a formal complaint is made against you, then the matter will be properly investigated in line with this policy. Harassment, and bullying, discrimination and victimisation are considered serious misconduct, so if the complaint is upheld Mitzvah Day may issue disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.
Mitzvah Day will follow its disciplinary procedure and you will have the rights as set out in it. You will have the right to be informed of all the allegations against you and to respond to these allegations. You also have the right to be accompanied to meetings by a trade union official (if relevant) or fellow worker.
Wherever possible, Mitzvah Day will try to ensure that you and the complainant are not required to work together while the complaint is under investigation. You may be suspended during the investigation and, if a disciplinary hearing is to be called, until disciplinary proceedings have been concluded.
If the complaint against you is upheld, a disciplinary sanction up to and including dismissal could be issued.
If a complaint is made against you and found not to be in good faith, Mitzvah Day will investigate the matter promptly and the appropriate sanctions issued. Mitzvah Day considers making false accusations of harassment (including sexual harassment) bullying, discrimination or victimisation to be a disciplinary offence and the individual could be liable for disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.
Victimisation is a serious offence and if you are found to have victimised any individual involved in the complaint against you, you will be liable for a disciplinary sanction up to and including dismissal.
If the complaint against you is not upheld but there is no evidence to suggest it was done in bad faith, arrangements will be made for you and the complainant to continue or resume working and to repair working relationships.
It is important to note that sexual harassment may constitute unlawful discrimination and allegations may give rise to the possibility of other civil claims or criminal proceedings against you, which would proceed independently of Mitzvah Day’s own proceedings, disciplinary or otherwise. If the bullying relates to a person’s protected characteristic, it may also constitute harassment and, therefore, may also constitute unlawful discrimination. You could be personally liable for any compensation to a complainant if a successful claim in the employment tribunal or other courts is brought against you. Criminal proceedings could lead to conviction and criminal penalties.
Where the findings of an investigation into harassment, bullying, discrimination, or victimisation conclude that disciplinary action should be taken, Mitzvah Day’s Disciplinary Procedure will be followed.
Mitzvah Day regards all forms of harassment, and bullying, victimisation, and discrimination as serious misconduct and in some cases, these may amount to an act of gross misconduct.
Therefore, employees who Mitzvah Day reasonably believes to have harassed, bullied, victimised or discriminated against another employee, contractor, volunteer agency worker etc. may be liable for disciplinary action up to and including dismissal for gross misconduct.
Harassment of an employee by third parties, for example clients, customers, donors or any other third party will not be tolerated. For example, if an employee complains to Mitzvah Day that a particular person has been making sexist remarks to them, Mitzvah Day will take steps to protect the employee from such third-party harassment, such as banning the alleged perpetrator from the premises or from attending events arranged by Mitzvah Day.
Similarly, if a business or individual occupies space within the same building or premises as Mitzvah Day and is accused of harassing an individual, appropriate steps will be taken to ensure any act(s) cease immediately.
In the event, that the third party is not willing to co-operate, any serious incidents may be reported to the police and Mitzvah Day will ensure appropriate safety measures are in place which may include not leaving alone the perpetrator and the individual alone at any given time. Mitzvah Day will investigate any complaints of harassment by third parties in the usual way and in accordance with this policy to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable that any act(s) that it could have reasonably foreseen are reduced or prevented.
Where harassment is found to have been committed by a third party associated with Mitzvah Day, and as such a disciplinary sanction cannot be issued, Mitzvah Day will take the necessary steps to ensure an equivalent, relevant outcome is delivered. Sanctions include but are not limited to: immediately terminating the agreement in place between Mitzvah Day and the third party and/or permanently prohibiting access to Mitzvah Day’s premises.
Education and engagement with everyone to promote Mitzvah Day’s zero-tolerance approach is key to avoid harassment and bullying [and discrimination] in the workplace. Mitzvah Day is committed to ensuring all its staff and those involved with Mitzvah Day are properly trained from induction in order to identify and ultimately prevent work-related harassment and bullying [and discrimination] from taking place, and to promote a safe and respectful workplace culture.
The Chief Executive, all Trustees, Senior Management and Line Managers are responsible for ensuring they promote respect, safety, and dignity at work. Mitzvah Day will ensure that appropriate measures are put in place, such as, training, supervision and instruction to enable the Chief Executive, Trustees and Management to identify work-related harassment and to deal effectively with any incidents that may occur.
What can you do to prevent harassment, bullying, victimisation and discrimination?
We want to ensure that we have a workplace that is inclusive and fosters openness and transparency. It is everyone’s responsibility in Mitzvah Day to create an environment free from harassment (including sexual harassment), bullying, victimisation and discrimination. You can help to prevent harassment, bullying, victimisation and discrimination by:
- Making sure you treat everyone you meet with dignity and respect;
- Being aware of your own behaviour and actions and remembering that these have consequences. Remember that ‘office banter’ and jokes may not be received in the same manner you meant;
- Making a stand against inappropriate workplace banter. Custom and practice doesn’t mean that some jokes and behaviour are acceptable;
- Making it clear to others, where possible, when you find their behaviour unacceptable;
- If you see or hear someone being harassed, intervening, and reporting this to your Line Manager or the Chief Executive or a Trustee.
Making This Policy Work
The outcome of every case of alleged harassment, bullying, discrimination and victimisation will be reviewed to ensure the proper procedures, including this policy have been followed. Where learning and developments are identified, this policy and relevant procedures will be subsequently updated.
Mitzvah Day may from time-to-time issue staff surveys to try to determine if the workplace is free from these behaviours.
When dealing with complaints of harassment, bullying, victimisation, discrimination or carrying out any reviews/monitoring, Mitzvah Day will ensure that all personal data is handled in accordance with Data Protection and GDPR Regulations. Please see our Staff Handbook for more information.
This policy is due for review at least:
- every 12 months;
- following any legislative changes;
- following any learning by Mitzvah Day UK;
- as required by the Charity Commission; or
- any change in jurisdictional guidance,
whichever comes first.
The policy will be reviewed by the Designated Safeguarding Lead/Chief Executive and revisions will be recommended to the Board of Trustees.
POLICY APPROVED: 1 August 2023
DATE FOR REVIEW: 1 August 2024
Appendix 1: Helplines
- Criminal matters should be reported to the police.
- Call 999 if you or someone else is in immediate danger, or if the crime is in progress.
- Call 101 to contact the police if the crime is not an emergency.
Jewish Women’s Aid (JWA) Confidential Dina Support Line: 0808 801 0656
- Times open: Mondays 10am-12noon and 1pm-3pm, Tuesdays 1pm-3pm, Thursdays 10am-12noon and 1pm-3pm
- For women and girls over the age of 16. It provides support and information on options, rights and services for survivors, professionals and supportive friends and family.
Rights of Women Sexual Harassment at Work Advice Line: 0207 4900152
- Times open: Monday 6pm–8pm, Tuesday 5pm–7pm (more opening times are planned)
- Legal advice to women in England and Wales experiencing sexual harassment at work.
London Survivors Gateway: 0808 801 0860
- Times open: Monday to Friday 10am–4pm
- Open to everyone aged 13 or above regardless of sex, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, disability, language, ethnicity or immigration status.
- Provides information on what help is available in London for those who have experienced any form of sexual violence.
- The Gateway is a partnership between the four London Rape Crisis Centers, Galop (the LGBT+ anti-violence charity), SurvivorsUK and the Havens and is run by the Women and Girls Network.
The National Male Survivors helpline: 0808 800 5005
- Times open: Monday 9am–5pm, Tuesday 8am–8pm, Wednesday 9am–5pm, Thursday 8am–8pm, Friday 9am–5pm, Saturday 10am–2pm
- The national umbrella agency for organisations working with boys and men affected by unwanted sexual attention. Its duty is to ensure a single point of reference exists for male survivors themselves to find national, regional and local support.
Employee Helpline: 01923 866 234
- Times open: Monday-Friday 9am – 5pm
- Open to all employees who wish to speak to an external HR professional about raising a complaint of sexual harassment.
Samaritans: 116 123
- Times open: 24hrs
- Providing emotional support to anyone in emotional distress, struggling to cope, or at risk of suicide throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland.