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Policy on Bullying & Harassment

1.0 Purpose

The Science for Africa (SFA) Foundation considers bullying and harassment of any kind, in any context, to be unacceptable. We believe that all people working at SFA Foundation or involved in SFA Foundation-funded activities should be able to work in an environment where everyone is treated, and treats others, fairly and with respect.

2.0 Scope

This policy covers the scope set out in this section:-

2.1 Participants

We expect all participants involved in SFA Foundation funding to treat each other with dignity and respect. Participants include: applicants, grant-holders, co-investigators, sponsors and supervisors, research staff, students, fieldworkers, collaborators, consultants, sub-grantees and advisory committee members.

2.2 Exclusions

2.2.1 Reasonable management action

Which could be:

  • setting reasonable performance goals, standards and deadlines
  • rostering and allocating reasonable working hours
  • failing to promote someone after a proper, documented selection process
  • informing a worker that their performance is unsatisfactory, after following established performance management
  • a restructure.

 2.2.2 Workplace conflict

Workplace conflict is generally not considered to be workplace bullying. Not all conflict is negative, nor does it always pose a risk to health and safety. Conflict at a lo- level producing debate on tasks can lead to innovation. However, in some cases, conflict that is not properly managed may escalate to the point where it fits the criteria for workplace bullying. A single incident of unreasonable behaviour is not bullying, although it may have the potential to escalate into bullying. Single incidents can still create a risk to health and safety.

3.0 Definitions

3.1 Bullying

A repeated, persistent unreasonable behaviour by one or more persons directed towards a person or a group of persons, that creates a risk to their health and safety.  This can include offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour over time.  Bullying can be verbal, physical or written.

  • behaviour includes actions of individuals or a group, and may involve using a system of work as a means of victimising, humiliating, undermining or threatening;
  • unreasonable behaviour means behaviour that a reasonable person, having regard to all the circumstances, would expect to victimise, humiliate, undermine or threaten
  • risk to health and safety includes risk to the mental or physical health of the person.

Examples of bullying behaviour:

  1. abusive, insulting, rude, offensive language including use of raised voice, berating behaviour
  2. intimidating, hostile or threatening behaviour
  3. humiliating someone through sarcasm or insults
  4. undue criticism
  5. spreading misinformation or malicious rumours
  6. deliberately withholding or denying access to information, supervision, consultation or resources that are necessary for effective work performance, resulting in detrimental effects to the worker
  7. setting unreasonable timelines or constantly changing deadlines
  8. improper treatment in relation to accessing workplace entitlements, such as leave or training.

3.2 Harassment

Unwelcomed or unreciprocated physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct which makes a person feel intimidated, offended, or belittled.  It may be persistent or a single incident. 

Examples of harassment:

  1. physical contact or requests for sexual favours
  2. persistent following (stalking)
  3. suggestive looks implying a sexual interest
  4. persistent verbal abuse or threats
  5. persistently disrupting an individual’s work, work space, equipment or interfering with their personal property
  6. jokes, derogatory or dismissive comments
  7. gestures that are insulting or belittling
  8. circulating, displaying written or pictorial material that is offensive or belittling

3.3 Participant

Any applicant, person or third party working on the grant activities arising out of SFA funding.

4.0 Policy Statement

Any form of bullying and harassment will not be tolerated by SFA Foundation. These behaviours are disruptive to the well-being of participants on SFA Foundation funding and affect the performance and safety of everyone. Therefore, SFA Foundation is committed to the elimination of bullying, discrimination and harassment in institutions and persons involved in SFA Foundation funding and the implementation of strategies to prevent such behaviour from occurring.

5.0 Grantee Obligations

  1. Should have a policy in place that clearly sets out:
  • the standards of behaviour it expects from staff
  • their procedure for responding to complaints, including a first point of contact.

The policy should be available to all staff and ideally published on the institution’s intranet.

  1. Make sure there is an equivalent policy in place at any sub-awardee institution, if relevant.
  2. Investigate allegations of bullying and harassment in an impartial, fair and timely manner, and take appropriate action.
  3. Tell the SFA Foundation Director of Programmes in confidence, about any allegations of bullying or harassment that are upheld. This should happen after the full internal process is complete, ie after an appeal, if one is made.  This applies to any employee at the institution who is associated with:
  • a grant application (either as a lead applicant, sponsor or supervisor)
  • an SFA Foundation grant (see our list of participants above)
  • an advisory committee.

The information you provide should only include:

  • the name of the person against whom the allegation has been upheld
  • a brief factual statement about the nature of the allegation (eg bullying junior members of staff in a research group)
  • a brief factual statement on the outcome of the investigation, including any sanctions.

The information you provide should not include any:

  • sensitive personal information, eg relating to criminal offences or convictions
  • personal information about other people, eg the person making the claim.

For any queries on this policy, please contact [email protected]