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Sexual Harassment

Sexual Harassment & Bullying Policy

The Policy Statement 

AHS Ltd is committed to providing a safe environment for all its employees, free from discrimination on any ground and from harassment, including sexual harassment and bullying.  AHS Ltd will operate a zero-tolerance policy for any form of sexual harassment and bullying in the workplace, treating all incidents seriously and investigating promptly all allegations of sexual harassment and bullying.  Any person found to have sexually harassed or bullied another will face disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal from employment.  All complaints of sexual harassment and bullying will be taken seriously and treated with respect and in confidence.  No one will be victimised for making such a complaint.

Mark Rodrigues HR and Compliance Manager will provide full details on this policy and the procedure complaint mechanism.

Definition of sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature which makes a person feel uncomfortable, offended, humiliated and/or intimidated.  It includes any such situations which create an environment which is uncomfortable, hostile, intimidating or humiliating for the recipient/s. 

Sexual harassment can involve one or more incidents and actions constituting harassment may be physical, verbal and non-verbal.  Examples of conduct or behaviour which constitute sexual harassment include, but are not limited to: 

Physical conduct 

Unwelcome physical contact including patting, pinching, stroking, kissing, hugging, fondling, or inappropriate touching. 

Physical violence, including sexual assault.

The use of job-related threats or rewards to solicit sexual favours. 

Verbal conduct 

Comments on/questions about a worker’s appearance, age, private life, etc.  Sexual comments, stories and jokes.  Sexual advances.  Repeated and unwanted social invitations for dates or physical intimacy.  Insults based on the sex of the worker.  Condescending or paternalistic remarks.  Sending sexually explicit messages (by phone or by email).

Non-verbal conduct

Display of sexually explicit or suggestive material.  Sexually-suggestive gestures.  Whistling.  Leering.

It is important to note that this list is not exhaustive and that sexual harassment can include any conduct of a sexual nature which is unwanted and unwelcome by the recipient.

Anyone can be a victim of sexual harassment, regardless of their sex and of the sex of the harasser and sexual harassment may also occur between people of the opposite sex or of the same sex.  What matters is that the sexual conduct is unwanted and unwelcome by the person against whom the conduct is directed.

Anyone, including employees of AHS Ltd, clients, customers, casual workers, contractors or visitors who sexually harasses another will be reprimanded in accordance with this internal policy. 

All sexual harassment is prohibited, whether it takes place within AHS Ltd premises or outside, including at social events, business trips, training sessions or events sponsored by AHS Ltd.

Complaints procedures

Victims of sexual harassment may want to resolve the matter in different ways.  Some may be happy with an informal resolution and for the matter to stop, others may want more formal measures.  In addition, informal resolution mechanisms may be inappropriate where the allegation is serious or where the harasser is also the victim’s supervisor. 

Anyone who is subject to sexual harassment should, if possible, inform the alleged harasser in the first instance that the conduct is unwanted and unwelcome.  However, AHS Ltd recognises that sexual harassment may occur in unequal relationships (i.e. between a supervisor and his/her employee) and that it may not be possible for the victim to inform the alleged harasser, or the victim may not feel comfortable approaching the alleged harasser directly.  We also understand that certain instances of sexual harassment may occur without the victim’s knowledge and will be reported by a third party.

In addition to speaking with the alleged harasser, the victim must report the incident to the company’s HR Manager.  In the case that the HR Manager is the alleged harasser, or the victim would feel more comfortable speaking to a member of the opposite sex / somebody else within the company, the victim must report this to a member of senior management / director.

When the HR Manager (or member of senior management / director) receives a complaint of sexual harassment, he/she will: 

  1. Immediately record the dates, times and facts of the incident(s);
  2. Ascertain the views of the victim as to what outcome he/she wants;
  3. Ensure that the victim understands the company’s procedures for dealing with the complaint;
  4. Discuss and agree the next steps: either informal or formal complaint, on the understanding that choosing to resolve the matter informally does not preclude the victim from pursuing a formal complaint if he/she is not satisfied with the outcome;
  5. Keep a confidential record of all discussions;
  6. Respect the choice of the victim;
  7. Ensure that the victim knows that they can lodge the complaint outside of the company through the relevant country/legal framework.

Informal complaints mechanism

If the victim wishes to deal with the matter informally, the designated person will: 

  1. Give an opportunity to the alleged harasser to respond to the complaint;
  2. Ensure that the alleged harasser understands the complaints mechanism;
  3. Facilitate discussion between both parties to achieve an informal resolution which is acceptable to the complainant, or refer the matter to a designated mediator within the company to resolve the matter;
  4. Ensure that a confidential record is kept of what happens;
  5. Follow up after the outcome of the complaints mechanism to ensure that the behaviour has stopped;
  6. Ensure that the above is carried out as quickly as possible and within 15 working days of the complaint being made.

Formal complaints mechanism

If the victim wants to make a formal complaint or if the informal complaint mechanism has not led to a satisfactory outcome for the victim, or if the incident is deemed serious enough to bypass the informal complaints mechanism and escalate it straight to a formal process, the formal complaint mechanism should be used to resolve the matter. 

The Human Resources Manager will instigate a formal investigation. The Human Resources Manager may deal with the matter him/herself or refer the matter to an internal or external investigator.

The person carrying out the investigation will: 

  1. Interview the victim and the alleged harasser separately;
  2. Interview other relevant third parties separately;
  3. Decide whether or not the incident(s) of sexual harassment took place;
  4. Produce a report detailing the investigations, findings and any recommendations;
  5. If the harassment took place, decide what the appropriate remedy for the victim is, in consultation with the victim (i.e. an apology, a change to working arrangements, a promotion if the victim was demoted as a result of the harassment, training for the harasser, discipline, suspension, dismissal);
  6. Follow up to ensure that the recommendations are implemented, that the behaviour has stopped and that the victim is satisfied with the outcome;
  7. If it cannot determine that the harassment took place, he/she may still make recommendations to ensure proper functioning of the workplace;
  8. Keep a record of all actions taken;
  9. Ensure that all records concerning the matter are kept confidential;
  10. Ensure that the process is carried out as quickly as possible and in any event within 15 working days of the complaint being made.

It is vital that the wishes and needs of the victim are incorporated into the outcome of the complaints mechanism.  For example, if it is found that a victim was harassed by a colleague and that they work together on a daily basis, the views of the victim should be ascertained before making a 

decision on re-organising the office.  For example, the victim may not want to be moved to a different department and as the victim, he/she should be entitled to decide this and not be re-victimised by being forced to move within the company.

Outside complaints mechanisms

A person who has been subject to sexual harassment can also make a complaint outside of AHS Ltd.  They can do so through the usual avenues of: employment tribunal, police, ombudsperson, etc. 

Employees are assured of their rights to use other national mechanisms that may be available to them.  Some employees may not feel comfortable bringing a complaint through the disciplinary measures at work and they are entitled to seek redress elsewhere.  The internal policy of AHS Ltd does not prevent an employee from also using the national mechanisms available to him or her. 

Sanctions and disciplinary measures 

Anyone who has been found to have sexually harassed another person under the terms of this policy is liable to any of the following sanctions: 

  1. Verbal or written warning;
  2. Adverse performance evaluation;
  3. Reduction in wages;
  4. Transfer;
  5. Demotion;
  6. Suspension;
  7. Dismissal.

The nature of the sanctions will depend on the gravity and extent of the harassment.  Suitable deterrent sanctions will be applied to ensure that incidents of sexual harassment are not treated as trivial.  Certain serious cases, including physical violence, will result in the immediate dismissal of the harasser. 

This policy will be applied consistently throughout the company and sanctions should be based on the gravity of the conduct.

Implementation of this policy

AHS Ltd will ensure that this policy is widely disseminated to all relevant persons.  All new employees must be trained on the content of this policy as part of their induction into the company.  

It is the responsibility of every manager within AHS Ltd to ensure that all his/her employees are aware of the policy. 

Monitoring and evaluation

AHS Ltd recognises the importance of monitoring this sexual harassment policy and will ensure that it anonymously collects statistics and data as to how it is used and whether or not it is effective. 

Supervisors, managers and those responsible for dealing with sexual harassment cases will report on compliance with this policy, including the number of incidents, how they were dealt with, and any recommendations made.  This will be done on a yearly basis.  As a result of this report, the company will evaluate the effectiveness of this policy and make any changes needed. 

Monitoring and evaluation can be done through different means, including questionnaires completed by employees, feedback from victims or those who work in the complaints procedure.

All employees are also invited to report to the HR Manager any incidences of behaviour they feel could, if left unmonitored, escalate to be considered as sexual harassment.