Woodlands & Hill Brow Ltd has a zero tolerance policy towards all forms of bullying and harassment and this includes bullying using technology such as mobile phones and computers whether it takes place within the workplace or outside. Any employee found to be in breach of the policy will be subject to the disciplinary policy and disciplinary action could include dismissal.
Definition of Cyberbullying
- offensive emails — sending offensive emails to a colleague (even if this is meant as a joke) — and continuing to send similar messages having already been asked to stop
- email threats — this might also include ostensibly relatively inoffensive messages in terms of actual content where it is the implied meaning behind the message that constitutes a form of bullying.
- posting blogs and leaving comments on social networking sites —propagating defamatory gossip about employees on social networking sites and blogs
- threats or offensive comments sent to a person’s mobile phone via SMS text messages
- harassment by email — sending persistent emails to a person when previous email approaches have been rejected
- sharing a person’s private data online picture/video-clip bullying via mobile phone cameras
- chat room bullying
- bullying via websites
Although similar in many respects to other forms of bullying, cyberbullying also has some very specific features.
- It invades both home and personal space.
- The size of the audience can be vast.
- Electronically-circulated messages can be difficult to control.
- The bully can feel relatively anonymous.
- It can have a large number of “bystanders” or “accessories”.
- Much (if not all) of the bullying may take place out of working hours.
The Aims of the Policy
Through this policy we aim to:
- raise awareness amongst employees about cyberbullying
- provide a safe work environment in which preventative measures are in place to deter cyberbullying
- ensure systems are in place to deal with cyberbullying should it occur.
In order that these aims can be fulfilled, a number of preventative measures will be taken.
Awareness-raising — Employees
All new employees will be made aware of this policy and its fellow policy on bullying and harassment and in particular:
- what constitutes cyberbullying (the list will not be exhaustive)
- that this is unacceptable behaviour and may lead to disciplinary action
- how to report any incidents of cyberbullying to which they have been subjected.
Awareness-raising — Managers
Managers should be in the best position to notice if a member of staff is distressed at work and should investigate the cause. Managers will also be given training in the policy and how it should be applied.
Dealing with Cyberbullying Incidents
There is often some visual evidence after cyberbullying has taken place. Employees should be encouraged to pass this on to their managers. The following advice should be given to those experiencing cyberbullying.
- Do not retaliate or reply.
- Block or remove offenders from buddy lists.
- Review the information you are giving out.
- Make sure you tell your manager and raise a formal complaint so that this can be properly investigated.
- Try to keep calm and do not let the bully see a reaction.
If the person responsible for the bullying is identified, sanctions will be applied under company’s disciplinary policy. In addition, the following sanctions might be implemented, depending upon the nature and severity of the bullying:
- restricting the use of equipment, such as mobile phones, during working hours
- withdrawing access to the internet for a set period of time
- limiting use of the internet for a set period of time
- contacting the police, where the cyberbullying is sufficiently severe
- informing external agencies such as social networking or email member sites.
Support will be provided for the victim. This may include meeting the bully to discuss what has happened and agree a way forward.
As with other forms of bullying, cyberbullying is prone to being driven by prejudice. The organisation is alert to the possibilities of sexist, racist and homophobic cyberbullying. Although all victims of bullying can be reluctant to discuss their experiences, victims of homophobic bullying may be particularly so.
Policy review date: