Dignity at Work (Harassment and Bullying) Policy

Policy Statement

RTYDS wishes to provide an open and supportive working environment which will assist its staff to fulfil their personal potential and creativity within their individual roles. This statement is for everyone within RTYDS and it applies to members of staff, board members, participants, contractors, agency staff and anyone engaged to carry out work on behalf of RTYDS.

RTYDS celebrates and values the diversity of individuals and is committed to creating an environment where all staff, artists and partners are respected. RTYDS recognises that certain groups and individuals have suffered and continue to suffer discrimination in our society. We believe that everyone has the right to be treated with respect and dignity and be free from bullying and harassment.

RTYDS is committed to tackling inappropriate behaviour in working relationships. Any complaint will be taken seriously and investigated swiftly. If possible, the complaint will be managed informally in the first instance, in an effort to minimise the stress caused to those involved. In certain circumstances, for example when the incident appears to be serious or occurs repeatedly, the complaint will require a formal procedure and disciplinary action may result.

We recognise the diversity of the RTYDS community and the importance of not discriminating against others on the basis of their age, ethnic origin, race, nationality, membership of a national minority, culture, language, religious faith or affiliation or lack thereof, political affiliation or opinions or lack thereof, sex, gender identity, sexuality, sexual orientation, marital status, caring or parental responsibilities, illness, ability or disability, mental health status, medical condition, physical appearance, genetic features, parentage, descent, socio-economic background, employment status, spent or irrelevant criminal convictions or any other irrelevant distinction.

RTYDS integrates its Dignity at Work Policy into all aspects of its work, including: recruitment and employment, staff development, governance and our programme of talent development.
Our policy further sets out to actively encourage our partner theatres to develop and implement Dignity at Work practices and procedures through the provision of information and good practice guidelines.


Harassment is unwanted conduct in working relationships affecting the dignity of employees. It is actions or comments that are viewed as demeaning and unacceptable to the recipient or that create a hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for a member of staff.
Harassment includes any form of unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, for example, unwelcome sexual advances, touching, standing too close, emails containing innuendo and the display of offensive materials.

Bullying can be defined as persistent, offensive, abusive, intimidating or malicious behaviour, abuse of power or sanctions which makes the recipient feel threatened, humiliated or vulnerable and which undermines self-confidence. Examples include shouting, persistent or unfair criticism, ostracising people, threats and instilling fear, inappropriate use of email, spreading malicious rumours, constantly undervaluing effort, withholding information, removing areas of responsibility and imposing inappropriate tasks.

Certain behaviour or actions may be acceptable to one individual while unacceptable to another. It is the deed and the impact on the recipient, which constitutes harassment or bullying.

The Legal Position

Harassment on the basis of age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation is covered by the Equality Act 2010.

Individuals are protected from harassment both while applying for a job, during it and, in some circumstances, after the working relationship ends (for example in terms of the provision of a verbal or written reference). There is also protection for people against harassment on the basis of their membership or non-membership of a trade union.

It is important to note that harassment does not have to be directed at the individual who complains, if it creates an environment that the individual finds intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive. The legal position with respect to bullying is more complex as there is no separate piece of legislation which deals with work place bullying in isolation.


Everyone has a responsibility to behave in a way that is not offensive to others and to acknowledge that views and opinions held by others, and decisions made by managers, may not always coincide with their own. It must be recognised that those in positions of authority have both a right and responsibility to discharge managerial duties. In so doing they may need to adopt a firm or assertive style, but they should take care not to demean, devalue or intimidate employees. Any employee found to be making mischievous or malicious complaints will be subject to the disciplinary procedure.

RTYDS will take all reasonable actions to ensure people are aware of this Dignity at Work policy, and will take action in response to incidents of unacceptable behavior towards our staff and those who are working on our behalf.

It is important for everyone to recognise and accept individual responsibility for equality and diversity within RTYDS. This includes our dealings with colleagues, artists and other stakeholders, to ensure that our actions and words demonstrate and deliver dignity and respect for all. The Chair of the RTYDS board leads on our Dignity at Work policy which is reviewed annually at the Annual General Meeting.

This policy is endorsed and supported by the RTYDS board, which undertakes to support the senior team in managing cases which may result in disciplinary action and / or dismissal.

Procedures for Employees

Any employee should report instances of harassment and bullying to the Executive Director. If the complaint is against the Executive Director or the complaint is made by the Executive Director, the Chair of the board will take their place in the process.

We encourage everyone to report instances of harassment and bullying and encourage their colleagues to do the same. Peer to peer support will help foster a working culture where inappropriate sexual behaviour or language is universally acknowledged to be unacceptable. This helps to ensure it will be challenged.

Any incidents reported will be logged by the Executive Director in order to help identify patterns. This log is confidential and will only be used to compile reporting to the RTYDS board on incidents that have occurred over time. Discretion will be used to determine the amount of information shared, based on the nature of the complaint and who is involved.

The log will contain the following information:

  • name of complainant or anonymous as required
  • name of person whom the complaint is being made against
  • nature of the complaint – bullying or harassment
  • date of the complaint
  • whether it is formal or informal
  • summary of the complaint
  • action taken
  • link to further evidence (in cases of formal complaints)

All complaints will be dealt with confidentially as far as possible. However, RTYDS has a duty of care to all employees, workers, freelancers and participants, therefore, it maybe be necessary to investigate and take action regarding a complaint without the consent of the complainant.

In many but not all circumstances, often the most effective means of dealing with an issue of this nature is to raise the matter directly with the person or persons concerned, explaining that their behaviour is offensive or unacceptable. This is only appropriate where the complainant agrees this is the best initial course of action.

Being entered onto the log will not equate to a record on an individual’s HR file. Discretion will be used in order to determine the amount of information shared, based on the nature of the complaint and who is involved.

Each stage of this procedure should be agreed in writing with the complainant, as we recognise that experiencing harassment and/or bullying can be complex and therefore thoughts and feelings around a particular incident may change during the process. Where any stage of this process constitutes a case of gross misconduct or initiates a formal grievance process, the standard Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures will also apply.

Next Steps

If there is an incident or behaviour that concerns you or has been reported to you or you witness an episode, the following procedure applies:

Report in writing (by email) and/or verbally (in a confidential environment) to your line manager or an appropriate colleague and state whether this is a formal or informal complaint. An informal complaint will be logged, but not fully documented, whereas a formal complaint will be logged and fully documented. In cases of formal complaints, the complaint should include any relevance evidence. You (the complainant) may request anonymity at the time of the report and if so, it will be logged as anonymous.

Informal Complaint

If an informal complaint is received regarding an RTYDS employee from another RTYDS employee or from anyone with whom RTYDS employees have dealings during the course of their work, the Executive Director will log the incident and have a conversation with the individual with whom the complaint is against and do the following:

1. Inform them of their inappropriate behaviour and ask for the behaviour to stop

2. Explain the impact of their behaviour

3. Advise them that their behaviour is contrary to the organisation’s Dignity at Work Policy

4. Confirm the required standard of behaviour expected of all employees

5. Advise them that if their behaviour continues it will lead to a formal process

6. Confirm that this discussion is informal and confidential but that the situation will be monitored

Formal Complaint

The Executive Director will investigate the complaint to a level acceptable. An acceptable level is based on the minimum actions outlined below:

1. Meet with the person making the complaint in a confidential environment to talk more about the incident/events and to explain the process going forward. The person may bring a colleague, friend or union representative to this meeting. Notes will be taken at this time.

2. The meeting will be led by the Executive Director. If the complaint is against the Executive Director the Chair of the board will take their place.

3. Following this meeting the Executive Director will discuss with the Artistic Director and/or Chair of the board what action should be taken and determine whether the board needs to be notified. If anonymity has been requested by the complainant, it will be maintained throughout this process. If at this point it is thought a third party needs to be involved in order to maintain an unbiased view, a decision will be made and the appropriate third party will be introduced.

4. Depending on the results of the meeting, the Executive Director will meet with the person against whom the complaint/report has been made. This meeting will be in a safe, confidential environment and an appropriate amount of time must be given to this meeting in order that the individual feels they have been duly heard.

5. At this point a decision can be taken to suspend the person whom the complaint is against, pending a formal investigation, which will trigger a formal grievance process. While this investigation is underway, the circumstances around the suspension and contents of the investigation must remain confidential both internally and externally in order to ensure it is fair and unbiased.

6. Where it is thought to be appropriate to consult the board, the Executive Director will discuss with them outcomes of the investigation. Actions are agreed and communicated to both parties. In some cases the board may be required to approve or take further action. If the complaint is made against a board member, the board member involved will be required to step down whilst their peers conduct the necessary approvals or take any further action required.

7. The Chair will be designated as the lead trustee to whom incidents will be reported by the Executive Team, if needed and in the instance of a complaint/report being made about the Artistic Director or Executive Director the Chair will take their place in the process.

Procedures for Participants on an RTYDS Programme

Participants on RTYDS programmes should report instances of harassment and bullying from RTYDS staff to the Executive Director. If the complaint is against the Executive Director the Chair of the board will take their place in the process. The procedure for as outlined above for RTYDS staff, will be followed.

All participating theatres and companies will be asked to evidence their Dignity at Work policy at point of application. If they do not have a Dignity at Work policy, RTYDS will support them in creating one by providing templates and guidance. Having or creating a Dignity at Work policy is a condition of partnering with RTYDS.

Participants on RTYDS programmes who have a complaint against a member of the team at the company where their programme is taking place (the partner) should follow the partner’s Dignity at Work (Harassment and Bullying) Policy, a copy of which will be given to them on commencement of the programme.

However, it is strongly recommended that they share their complaint and its outcome with the Executive Director of RTYDS so that participants can be effectively supported by RTYDS. RTYDS will offer support to the participant through acting on their behalf with the partner theatre if required to do so by the participant. The nature of the involvement of RTYDS with the partner theatre to be determined by the complainant and RTYDS on a case by case basis.

RTYDS is committed to challenging abuse of power, bullying and harassment and wants to work towards breaking the wider societal culture of silence and cover up. We have a duty of care to both parties involved in any complaint and as such will ensure that allegations and investigations are kept confidential while the procedure above is being followed; however, as soon as it is appropriate to make a statement both internally and externally, we are committed to doing so.

RTYDS is committed to ensuring that all participants are treated with fairness, dignity and respect.