Duty of Respect

Policy Statement on Staff Duty of Respect and Right to Dignity

Deerpark CBS affirms the right of all staff and students to work and study in an environment free from harassment and bullying.

1. Introduction

1.1      Harassment and bullying create an unpleasant and ineffective working and learning environment.  It is in everyone’s interests to promote positive and respectful work and classroom conditions.

1.2      This policy statement applies to all areas of school operations and programmes. It applies to the conduct of all School staff members, as well as to the conduct of all visitors to the school including parents / guardians, vendors, contractors, sub-contractors and others. The procedure set out in this document is a staff procedure.

1.3      Ultimate responsibility for the implementation of this policy rests with the Board of Management.  Day to day implementation with regard to staff is the responsibility of the Principal and Deputy Principal.

1.4      The School supports the resolution of complaints, as far as is possible and appropriate, through informal processes.  It is expected that informal procedures will normally be pursued before resort to the formal complaints procedure.

1.5      Any formal complaint of harassment or bullying will be promptly and seriously processed. It is recognised that harassment and bullying are very difficult issues to deal with for all concerned. The School undertakes to pursue formal complaints as sensitively as possible, with due regard to the rights of both Complainant and Respondent.

1.6      The School is committed to identifying and eliminating organisational deficiencies which may contribute to the occurrence of harassment or bullying, and undertakes to review and make improvements in the event that any investigation under this procedure identifies organisational factors as contributing to a case of harassment or bullying.

1.7      It is considered a breach of policy and a disciplinary offence, for any staff member or student to attempt to victimise or otherwise retaliate against an individual because that individual, whether as a witness, party or in any other role, participates in good faith in this procedure.

1.8      Since complaints of harassment and bullying will be taken very seriously, any attempt to misuse this policy and procedure through the filing of malicious complaints may result in disciplinary action pursuant to the School’s disciplinary procedures.

1.9      This policy will be widely publicised and its content made known to all  members, of the school community and others associated with the School. Additionally, all new staff members and students will be supplied with a copy of this policy statement and new employees will be appropriately briefed during their induction.

2. Definitions

2.1      The Equality Act, 2004, defines Harassment as any form of unwanted conduct related to any of the discriminatory grounds, if the conduct has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity and creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the person.  The discriminatory grounds, for the purposes of legislation are gender, marital status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race and membership of the Traveller community.

2.2       Common harassing behaviour includes, but is not limited to:

    • Unwelcome physical contact
    • Inappropriate looks, comments or suggestions
    • Interfering with or damage to property
    • Threats or extortion
    • Comments, gestures, jokes or displaying or circulating offensive material
    • Hostile attitudes, practices or structures which discriminate against an individual or group of persons

2.3              Sexual harassment is similarly defined as any form of unwanted verbal, non verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, if the conduct has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity and creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the person.

Common sexual harassing behaviour includes, but is not limited to:

  • Verbal or physical advances
  • Requesting sexual favours
  • Asking about someone’s sexual preferences, fantasies or activities
  • Repeatedly asking for a date after someone has expressed lack of interest
  • Unwelcome patting, hugging or touching someone’s body, hair or clothing
  • Making comments, jokes, sexual innuendo, displaying or circulating offensive material or computer pornography
  • Making suggestive or sexual gestures, movements or facial expressions
  • Making disparaging remarks to someone about their gender or body

2.4   Bullying, whilst not defined in legislation, can have serious effects on the health and welfare of recipients and is therefore regarded as a workplace risk and legislated for under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act. The Health and Safety Authority defines bullying as repeated inappropriate behaviour, direct or indirect, whether verbal, physical or otherwise, conducted by one or more persons against another or others, at the place of work and/or in the course of employment, which could reasonably be regarded as undermining the individual’s right to dignity at work.  An isolated incident of the behaviour described in this definition may be an affront to dignity at work, but as a once off incident is not considered to be bullying. Many conflicts and interpersonal difficulties should be dealt with through appropriate industrial relations and complaint channels.

Common bullying behaviour includes, but is not limited to

  • Unreasonably blocking someone’s progress or advancement
  • Persistent picking on someone
  • Manipulation of someone’s reputation
  • Manipulating the nature of someone’s work or the ability of someone to do their work (e.g. overloading, withholding information, setting meaningless tasks)
  • Social exclusion or isolation
  • Constant criticism, preventing someone from speaking, shouting, public reprimands, rages over trivialities or insults
  • Unwanted physical contact, physical abuse or threats of abuse to an individual or an individual’s property
  • Undermining an individual’s work or self-esteem

2.5              Harassment is closely related to bullying and whilst it is illegal and should not be tolerated in the workplace, it does not fit the definition of Bullying. To assist in differentiating the two it is worth considering that harassment is governed

by Equality legislation and is predicated on the person being a member of one of the nine categories specified within the anti-harassment legislation. Bullying is legally distinct from harassment as bullying behaviour is not predicated on membership of any distinct group.


2.7       Bullying at work does not include reasonable and essential discipline arising from the good management of the performance of an employee at work or actions taken which can be justified as regards the safety, health and welfare of the employees.

2.8    This policy will be interpreted with consideration of the fact that behaviour which is acceptable to one individual may be offensive to another. Because a reasonable person standard is used, members of staff and students are expected to be sensitive to the possibility that behaviour they themselves consider tolerable would be considered inappropriate, and possibly damaging or hurtful to a member of staff or student whose background or circumstances is different


3. Application

3.1      This procedure will be utilised wherever an allegation of breaching the Duty of Respect and Right to Dignity Policy is made against a Deerpark CBS staff member. Where a Deerpark CBS staff member makes allegations against any non-Deerpark CBS persons interacting with the School, the School will take appropriate action. Where the alleged violator is a student, student procedures apply.

3.2      This procedure is intended to perform a deterrent and corrective function, in order to prevent members of the School community from being subjected to behaviour which they find harassing or bullying in nature. Those involved in interpreting, administering, and applying this policy will use a reasonable person standard; that is to say, whether a person in the same position as the Complainant and of the same relevant characteristics as the complainant would reasonably judge harassment or bullying to have occurred as a result of a given behaviour or pattern of behaviour.


4. Informal Procedure

4.1      Under informal procedure, the primary aim is not to determine whether an actual violation of the Duty of Respect and Right to Dignity policy has occurred, but rather to attempt to restore a working relationship between the parties.

4.2      The complaint should in form the Principal, Deputy or ASTI steward of their concerns.  If the complaint is regarding the Principal, then the complainant should inform the Chairperson of the Board of Management.

4.3       In certain circumstances, with the agreement of the parties, an independent mediator may be engaged to assist in resolving the matter.


5. Formal Procedure


5.1       In general, Complainants will be expected to have attempted to resolve their concerns through the informal procedure before resorting to formal procedures.

5.2       Formal complaints should be lodged with the Principal or Deputy Principal or Chairperson as appropriate as soon as possible following the most recent incident of harassment or bullying occurring. The Complaint should be clearly formulated in writing. The Complainant should give precise details of actual incidents of alleged harassment or bullying, including, where possible, witness names and times and dates of alleged incidents.

Principal, Deputy Principal or Chairperson will notify the Respondent in writing within 5 working days that an allegation of harassment and/or bullying  has been made against him/her. He/She will be given a copy of the complaint and will be requested to respond to the allegations in writing within 10 working days.

5.4       The matter will then be considered by the Principal, Deputy Principal and Chairperson and the matter may require further investigation.  A report will be issued and sent to both parties.  All aspects of the investigation and the report must be treated as confidential by all parties.