New policy to protect staff from bullying by councillors set to be put in place at Hartlepool Borough Council
Condemning workplace bullying is set to become a plank of Hartlepool Borough Council’s constitution.
It comes after a motion was put before councillors hitting out at bullying and harassment in society.
The issues have been increasingly at the forefront in recent years, and the matter was raised by Coun Marjorie James at a full council meeting.
She said it comes following the recent revelations in the national press about the sexual harassment of Parliamentary staff.
Coun James said while legally it may not be enforceable, something needs to be done to the council constitution to protect officers from harassment in the workplace.
She said: “The fact is when the perpetrator of harassment in any form is an elected member there is an additional component to that harassment.
“The fact is even where an elected member is found to be guilty of such harassment there is no compulsion or legal status to remove the perpetrator from their role.
“Therefore the member of staff who has been the victim, they are the ones who are either going to have to leave the authority or move their role in order to avoid contact with the perpetrator.
“In normal circumstances within a workforce that is not there, and in most workforces it’s quite clear that if a manager or someone in a position of control was to carry out harassment on a member of staff and be found guilty of such then the fact is they can then be disciplined and lose their job.
“We need some form of policy which would enable that member to be removed from the circle of contact.”
The motion, signed by four other councillors, added ‘bullying and harassment in all its forms is abhorrent and has no place in civilised society’.
It added whilst it is difficult for those experiencing such behaviour to ‘speak out’ they encourage them to do so.
Following the motion, Coun Mike Young moved it was sent to the council constitution committee for immediate consideration, to see what could be added to the council’s constitution.