Staff reporting procedure

1.1 General Principles

1.1.1 The procedure below applies where the individual who is the subject of a report – referred to as the reported staff member - is a member of University staff.  The Director of Human Resources or nominee will have oversight of all cases, and will take the lead as appropriate in liaising with other parts of the University.

1.1.2 Both parties to a report (the reported staff member and the reporting party) should be kept updated by a nominated person, for example, the investigating officer, at appropriate intervals throughout the course of the investigation.

1.1.3 At any stage in the procedure, appropriate interventions such as mediation, fact-finding or non-adversarial discussions, with the aim of facilitating resolution of the issue, may be undertaken; these informal approaches are encouraged where appropriate.

1.1.4 There is an expectation that – in the interests of ongoing and effective working/studying relationships – every effort will be made by the parties involved to resolve reports of harassment, bullying and hate incidents through informal procedures where appropriate.

1.2 Right to be accompanied

The reported staff member and the reporting party  have the right to be accompanied and supported by a trade union representative or by a colleague of their choice from within the University at any meeting held under this procedure (legal representation would not be appropriate as these meetings do not form part of a legal process).

1.3 Support

All parties may seek support.

1.4 Movement between procedures

If a report falls within more than one University procedure (whether apparent at the outset or becoming apparent during the investigation) the University will decide how best it can be dealt with, fairly and proportionately.  It may be appropriate for there to be either parallel or sequential investigations to avoid duplication or potentially conflicting decisions. Those involved will be informed of the reasons for the movement between procedures.

2. Reporting to the Wellcome Trust (research funding/ grant applications only)

2.1  The University is required to inform the Wellcome Trust that the lead applicant (and sponsor / supervisor if relevant) to a submitted grant application has not had an allegation of bullying or harassment upheld against them for which there is either a current formal disciplinary warning or an active sanction. This process will be jointly managed between Human Resources, Research Support Policy Office and the relevant academic department involved in the grant application. 

3. Informal procedures

3.1 Taking Personal Action

3.1.1 If an individual feels that they have been, or are being subjected to harassment or bullying, they may feel able to take action on their own to make the other person aware of the effect of the behaviour on them and how they may be able to amend it; this is encouraged where appropriate and safe to do so. 

3.1.2 In some cases, the reported staff member  may be unaware that their behaviour is having a detrimental impact on another individual.  This is worth considering as it may be a fairly straightforward matter to point out to them what it is that has caused offence or has been interpreted in a particular way and that may be sufficient to prevent a recurrence.

3.1.3 In many situations, taking personal action can be the most effective and relatively simple  way to raise concerns and resolve issues.  However, an individual should not feel obliged to raise concerns in this way and should be made aware of the other available options.

3.1.4 An individual may feel able to have a conversation with, or write to, the other person and explain, as clearly as possible, what it is that they consider to be unacceptable about the behaviour and suggest to them how they may be able to amend it.

3.1.5 An individual may arrange to talk to a line manager , HR adviser or Trades Union representative to explore options for resolution and support; this may include mediation in appropriate circumstances.

3.1.6 If an individual does decide to take personal action it may be advisable to note down factual information about the discussion that takes place and any agreed outcomes.  It will also be helpful to keep copies of relevant written or email correspondence.

3.2 Involving a line manager

3.2.1 If the individual has not been able to resolve the issue through a personal approach – or does not wish to follow this route - but still wishes to seek informal resolution, they should approach their line manager to ask for support in achieving a resolution of the problem. The reporting party  should provide details to their line manager regarding the incident(s) of alleged harassment/bullying.

3.2.2 It is the responsibility of the line manager – with advice and support from the HR Partner/HR Advisor - to seek to resolve the matter.

3.2.3 If the report is against the member of staff’s line manager, it should be raised with the next level of line management.

3.2.4 The line manager will consult with the reporting party before deciding how to progress this and will be done in a sensitive and appropriate manner.  

3.2.5 In all cases when receiving an informal report, the line manager may seek advice from their HR Partner/HR Advisor to inform the next steps.  This may involve a conversation to explain the situation and verify that the proposed next steps are appropriate.

3.2.6 The line manager – in consultation with their HR Partner/HR Advisor – may decide on a number of actions depending on the nature of the report which may include:

  • Brief fact-finding in order to establish what has occurred.
  • Making recommendations as to how the reporting party  may resolve the issue themselves.
  • Negotiating agreed standards of behaviour between the parties involved.
  • Communications to all parties in order to reinforce appropriate policies, procedures or broad expectations the University has around conduct within the workplace and institutional values. 
  • Negotiating a way forward between the parties for example facilitating – where appropriate – an apology and/or a commitment not to repeat the behaviour.
  • Making temporary or permanent adjustments to working arrangements.
  • Referring the matter to a more senior manager in cases where serious harassment or bullying may have occurred.

3.2.7 The line manager and HR Partner/HR Advisor will take account of the wider implications of any report. For example, they will consider whether the report may be part of a more systemic pattern of behaviour within the workplace.

3.2.8 In circumstances where the reporting party would prefer not to go to their line manager or escalate to a more senior manager it is advised that they contact their HR Partner/HR Adviser to discuss a suitable approach.

3.3 Entering a mediation process 

3.3.1 In some situations, it may be appropriate to ask the parties to consider entering into a mediation process. Although mediation may be attempted at any time before or after a formal investigation, it may be particularly helpful if it is considered at an early stage before the formal procedure is invoked.

3.3.2 In the case of a report by a member of staff, experienced mediators acceptable to both parties will normally be nominated by the Mediation Coordinator. The mediators will meet with the parties separately and as soon as practicable to begin to seek a resolution. The normal expectation is that there will be an initial meeting with each party on the same day (in the morning) as the mediation meeting where the parties are brought together (in the afternoon).  Any agreements would be in place immediately following mediation.

3.3.3 All those involved in the mediation process must maintain appropriate confidentiality.  For further information, please see the Mediation Service web page.

4. Formal Procedure

4.1 If informal action does not succeed in resolving the report, or would not be appropriate given the nature and/or seriousness of the report, the HR Partner/HR Advisor will inform the line manager of the reported staff member of the incident(s). 

4.2 The line manager will be responsible for informing the reported staff member of the report and begin the formal procedure. 

4.3 The line manager involved will explore with the HR Partner/HR Advisor whether and how an investigation should be conducted, including the appointment of an investigating officer and investigating manager ( see 4.2.1) if appropriate.

4.4 Consideration will be given to the clarity of the evidence, the number of potential witnesses, the range and nature of the issue involved to determine whether there is a need for a fairly straightforward fact-finding exercise, or a more detailed and thorough investigation as detailed below.

4.1 Submission of a Formal report

4.1.1 The reporting party  should set out the details of their report as clearly and succinctly as possible to their line manager and should include the following information:

  • The name of the reported staff member. 
  • The nature of the behaviour about which the report is made.
  • The impact the alleged behaviour has had on them.
  • Information about the times, dates and locations of any incidents, where possible.
  • An indication of whether anyone else might have observed the behaviour in question.
  • Details of any action that has already been taken to address the alleged behaviour and the outcome of any such action.
  • The resolution that is being sought.

4.2 Formal investigation

Identification of an investigating manager and investigating officer

4.2.1. Upon receipt of a formal report containing all the information (at 4.1.1) the Line Manager will seek advice from the HR Partner/HR Advisor to agree the following in relation to a formal investigation of the report:

  • Identification of an investigating manager who will have oversight of the investigation. 
  • Identification of an investigating officer to undertake the investigation into the report. 
  • Neither the investigating officer nor the investigating manager should have had significant previous contact with the reporting party, the reported staff member or issues identified in the report.

4.2.3 The investigating manager should be of sufficient seniority to be able to ensure implementation or otherwise act on any recommendations made by the investigating officer.  This will be done by notifying the Head of Department of the action required.

4.2.4 The investigating officer will usually be a manager in another department of an appropriate level of seniority.

Note: The relationship between the reporting party and the reported staff member will determine who will be investigating manager and investigating officer. For example the report may be against a colleague who is a peer, against their line manager or against someone who works in another department.

4.2.5 The investigating manager will, in consultation with the HR Partner/HR Advisor determine the following:

  • The scope of the investigation.
  • The outcomes to be sought by the investigating officer.

4.2.6 The investigating officer will, in consultation with the HR Partner/HR Advisor determine the following:

  • What evidence will be gathered, including who will be interviewed as a potential witness, to enable a decision to be taken on whether – on the balance of probabilities – the report of harassment or bullying should be upheld,
  • Timelines for the investigation.
  • Who will communicate with the reporting party  and the reported staff member  to advise them that an investigation is to be undertaken and to keep them informed of progress with it including next steps.

The investigating officer will consider the findings of their investigation and determine whether any further investigation is required before concluding their investigation report.

Advice for staff assigned to undertake the investigation 

4.2.7 The purpose of an investigation is to establish the relevant evidence in connection with the allegation(s) made by the reporting party.

4.2.8 The Investigating Officer is seeking to establish whether – on the balance of probabilities – the alleged behaviour complained about was more likely to have happened than not. To do this they will need to form a genuine belief, based on reasonable grounds following an appropriate investigation. This will involve the following:

  • Examining all the evidence in an objective manner.
  • Taking account of the various versions of events including those of both the reporting party  and the reported staff member. 
  • Taking account of any witness evidence.
  • Interviewing as many individuals as is reasonable to support an appropriate investigation and the formation of a view of whether the incident(s) complained about took place on the balance of probabilities.
  • Distinguishing between fact and opinion, and weighing accordingly.
  • Reviewing all the evidence to determine what is more likely than not to have happened.

4.2.9 The investigation should be concluded as soon as is reasonably practicable. The investigating officer will prepare a report and may, if appropriate, make recommendations on possible courses of action to the investigating manager.

4.2.10 The procedure for an investigation will normally be as follows, but may be adapted by the investigating officer to meet the needs of the case:

a) The investigating officer will meet the reporting party  to confirm the details of the report.

b) The investigating officer will meet the reported staff member  to establish their response to the report.

c) The investigating officer will meet with individuals identified as having relevant evidence to contribute to an understanding of the report. (Those interviewed in the course of an investigation will be asked to review the notes of their individual discussions with the investigator as soon as is reasonably practicable).

d) The investigating officer will ensure that any meetings are conducted in a suitable environment with appropriate representation, particularly ensuring the appropriate gender representation when an individual is disclosing incidents of sexual harassment.

e) Having considered all the evidence, including any relevant documents, the investigating officer will prepare a written report covering the following:

  • Details of the allegations being investigated.
  • The scope of the investigation.
  • How the investigation was carried out.
  • The result(s) of the investigation.
  • The conclusion(s)/finding(s) of the investigation.
  • Any recommendations arising from their findings.

f)    The report will be forwarded to the investigating manager with a copy to the HR Partner/HR Advisor.

4.2.11 The investigating manager will consider and finalise the report, including the findings and recommendations from the investigating officer and will ensure appropriate action is taken:The investigating manager will share the report summarizing the findings and recommendations with the line manager(s) of the reporting party and the reported staff member. 

4.2.12 The investigating manager will inform the reporting party  and the reported staff member of the outcome of their investigation separately and confirm the actions they will be taking as a result of the conclusion of the investigation.

4.2.13 The investigating manager will also inform any other parties who have been asked to participate in an investigation that it has been concluded.

4.2.14 The investigating manager will confirm to the line manager and/or head of department (as appropriate) of the reporting party  and the reported staff member  what action is required as a result of the conclusion of the investigation.

4.2.15 The line manager and/or head of department (as appropriate) will implement any actions as notified by the investigating manager.

4.2.16 Every effort will be made to achieve a timely resolution to the report – the aim being to conclude any investigation within a period of no more than six working weeks. Both the reporting party  and the reported staff member  will be expected to cooperate with the University in achieving that result. In exceptional cases, an investigation may take longer than six weeks, and both parties will be kept updated about the progress of the investigation.

4.2.17 There may be exceptional circumstances in which a reporting party  is not willing, or able, to make a formal report but the line manager considers that the implications for them or others - actually or potentially affected - are serious. This may include cases where other parties, but not the reporting party, have made a report. In this case, the line manager will notify the head of department and consult the HR Partner/HR Advisor and an investigation may be undertaken which leads to action being taken based on such evidence as is available.

4.3 Possible outcomes

4.3.1 Depending on the nature of the report and the evidence found, including the findings of any investigation, the investigating manager will ensure - in consultation with the HR Partner/HR Advisor – that the following are considered and implemented as appropriate:-

a) Take no further action, other than, where appropriate, implement or recommend steps that would help to restore reasonable professional relationships between the parties.  It is acknowledged that both parties may need support in moving on from the event(s) which may involve advice being sought from the HR Advisor.

This approach will usually be appropriate where the claim(s) of harassment or bullying is (are) considered to be unfounded and where there is a continuing relationship between the parties or an informal resolution has been reached.

b) Initiate resolution of the issues. This may be by requiring that certain individuals undertake specific training or implementing practical arrangements to improve professional relationships.  If a successful resolution is achieved the case will be closed, but the situation will be monitored for an appropriate period.

This approach will usually be appropriate where the evidence does not support a claim of harassment or bullying but it is clear that either party has demonstrated behaviours that are likely to lead to further issues between them if unresolved or alternatively, that there are other issues within a department that require management attention.

c) Invoke the Disciplinary Procedure against the reported staff member  where the investigating manager is reasonably satisfied that there is evidence to support allegations of harassment or bullying of a sufficiently serious nature that should be examined further through the disciplinary process.

In this event, the investigating manager will determine what intermediate measures are necessary, including any re-allocation of duties, including line management and supervision responsibilities.

  • If there is a recommendation that the individual has a disciplinary case to answer, the investigating manager will discuss this with the HR Partner/HR Advisor and a senior member of the University who has not previously been involved will be appointed to consider the case under the University's Disciplinary Procedure.
  • In accordance with the Disciplinary Procedure the formal investigation report will be provided to the senior member and it is expected that will provide sufficient information and evidence to proceed straight to a disciplinary hearing.  If additional information is needed, further investigation will be carried out by the existing investigating manager/officer due to their familiarity with the case.
  • If more information is needed this will be sought prior to a hearing taking place. Once all the evidence is available, the senior member of staff will convene a Disciplinary Hearing in accordance with the Disciplinary Procedure.

d) In rare cases, disciplinary or other appropriate action may be taken against the reporting party if the investigating manager is satisfied that the report of harassment, bullying or hate incident is vexatious, malicious or otherwise not made in good faith.

e) In some situations it may be appropriate to ask the parties to consider entering into a mediation process.  Although mediation may be attempted at any time before or after a formal investigation, it may be particularly helpful if it is considered at an early stage before the formal procedure is invoked.

5 Appeal

5.1 If an individual is not satisfied with the outcome of the report they may write to the Director of HR within ten working days of receipt of the outcome, exercising their right of appeal.

5.2 This excludes the situation where the decision is to refer the matter for consideration under the University’s Disciplinary Procedure where any matters of dispute will usually be considered as part of the individual’s response under that procedure.

5.3 The letter must detail the grounds for appeal which should be addressed under one or more of the following headings:

  • The procedure was flawed.
  • The decision was unfair or perverse because the evidence did not support the outcome reached.
  • New evidence is available that could not have been made available to the original investigation.
  • Any action proposed was inappropriate in the circumstances of the case.

The Director of HR will appoint an appeals officer to consider the appeal who has not been previously involved in the case.

5.4 The purpose of the appeal is to enable the individual to explain the reasons for their appeal. It will focus on the grounds of appeal and will not be a re-hearing of the original investigation.

5.5 The appeal may involve:

  • Interviewing the appellant. 
  • Interviewing the investigating manager who had oversight of the investigation into the report.
  • Interviewing the investigating manager who investigated the report.
  • Gathering, where appropriate, additional documentary evidence from the appellant and any other relevant individual(s).
  • An appeal hearing.

5.6 Where an individual has exercised their right to appeal against the outcome, the HR Partner/HR Advisor will write as soon as reasonably practicable to all the parties concerned notifying them of the arrangements for the appeal.

5.7 Where the appeal process is varied by the appeal officer they will explain the reason(s) for the variation and record them in the official record of the outcome. The outcome following any appeal will be final.

Contact us

Equality and Diversity Office
+44 (0)1904 324680

Contact us

Equality and Diversity Office
+44 (0)1904 324680