And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone… (2 Timothy 2:24a, NIVUK)
NB: The article below focuses on employment law issues around bullying and harassment in a workplace context. Employment law will only be an issue for organisations with employees, and bullying and harassment are of course areas of concern though that charity trustees will want to think about more broadly within their organisations, not just within an employment context.
When things are going smoothly, it’s easy to forget or fail to prioritise the need for clear policies and procedures to be implemented into our charities.
In recent months, the Charity Commission has emphasised the requirement for trustees to ensure their charities handle allegations of bullying and harassment in line with employment law. The Commission’s report on this topic clarified the respective responsibilities in preventing and responding to incidents, and made clear that trustees have a central role to play to ensure their charities have clear policies on dealing with bullying and harassment.
One way to seek to respond to any such allegations compliantly, and in line with employment law obligations, is to implement a policy on how the charity will handle bullying and harassment allegations in the workplace.
Any such policy should cover:
- Whom an individual should speak to if they feel they have been bullied or harassed
- How the charity will deal with the allegation
- Timeframes for a response or outcome, or to confirm that any complaint will be dealt with in line with the charity’s Grievance procedure
The Director of Policy at the Charity Commission has said that,
“There is no place for bullying and harassment in society, and there is certainly no place for it in the charitable sector. In a sector grounded on kindness and generosity, this kind of culture is unacceptable.”
None of us would wish to see bullying or harassment in our churches and Christian organisations, and the very nature of this type of policy can feel in conflict with a loving, caring workplace. Yet the realities of living in a fallen world with imperfect people mean that these are behaviours that we need to guard against, for the sake of our staff and congregations, for those who come into contact with our churches and organisations, and for the sake of the gospel.
It is not possible for any charity to rule out this type of allegation being made. It is safer for everyone to know there are clear policies in place to follow should such a situation arise, which will ensure that the charity acts as the law (and indeed the Charity Commission) would expect.
Support for your organisation
The need to have correct policies and procedures in place for such sensitive matters can be daunting for trustees. But Edward Connor Solicitors is here to support you with all that you need to ensure legal compliance, and biblical faithfulness for your church or organisation.
We have a template Harassment and Bullying policy available for churches and Christian organisations to purchase. This policy forms part of our comprehensive Employment Pack, which contains a full suite of template policies covering other areas of employment law, plus a raft of further policies, template documents and guidance notes for your employment needs.
As ever, we are here for you when you need us.