New policies on Bullying, Harassment and Sexual Misconduct and Personal Relationships

The wellbeing of our staff and students continues to be of the utmost importance at UCL. We have recently undertaken a review of our policies and procedures that relate to bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct.

Whilst UCL has not always addressed these issues as well as it could in the past, we are committed to saying Full Stop to bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct and revising our current policies and procedures is one part of this commitment.

As you know, we have made good progress with Report + Support , Where do you Draw the Line and the Full Stop Campaigns.

Students and staff are using these resources to educate and inform, to request support, including counselling or informal resolution, as well as to make a formal complaint.  All policies, guidance and support information are located on the support pages for students and staff to find out more.

The Preventing Sexual Misconduct Strategy group have developed the following two policies in consultation with staff, the Students Union, UCU, Unison, Unite and Academic Board:

1. The Prevention of Bullying, Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Policy , which replaces the Dignity at Work Statement and the Student Bullying and Harassment Policy

2. The revised Personal Relationships Policy. 

The Prevention of Bullying, Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Policy introduces the term "sexual misconduct" and gives an expanded explanation of "consent". It also gives clearer examples of unacceptable behaviour including "grooming", and "abuse of power".

The policy introduces new processes to deal with allegations and to help to protect our students and staff including:

  •  An interim measures panel to conduct risk assessments
  •  Environmental investigations

The policy also:

  • Clarifies what information will be shared with reporting parties
  • Sets out UCL’s approach to conducting investigations into criminal matters.

The Personal Relationships Policy seeks to protect students and staff from potential abuse of power, and address perceived or actual conflict of interest, and breach of confidentiality.

The new policy:

  • Prohibits close personal and intimate relationships between staff and students where there is direct supervision or pastoral support
  • Requires the disclosure of close personal or intimate relationships between staff and student where there is  no supervision
  • Requires the disclosure of close personal or intimate relationships between staff where it may give rise to a real or perceived conflict of interest.

The disclosures process will be managed sensitively and in confidence and there will be a transition period of 2 months from the launch of the policy in order for disclosures to be made in relation to existing and previous relationships from the past 2 years.

If we are to change the culture and create a welcoming and inclusive environment for all members of the UCL community, we need to work together. We invite you to join us in saying ’Full Stop’ to bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct.

If you have any queries or concerns about the issues within these policies, you can talk to your Line Manager, HR Business Partner , Trade Union Representative , Student Support and Wellbeing Team or the Students’ Union. If you have a query about the policies themselves please contact the Employment Policy Team.

Matthew Blain, Executive HR Director and Fiona McClement, Director of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, February 2020


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