The role of the Harassment Adviser

  • Harassment Advisers (HA) are a first point of contact for staff who are concerned about harassment or bullying.
  • The role of the HA is to offer general support and guidance to staff who are concerned that they may have witnessed harassment, feel they are being harassed or who have been accused of harassing behaviour.
  • HA provide guidance and information on techniques to support the informal resolution of a complaint and on ‘next steps’ and their implications.
  • HA are not expected to act as trained counsellors. If they feel a member of staff has been seriously disturbed by the situation in which they find themselves they will refer them to Occupational Health.
  • HA are not expected to make judgements on the legitimacy of a complaint, to intervene on the behalf of a member of staff or to act as investigators. Staff nominated by the Directorate of Human Resources will undertake formal investigations.
  • Discussions should always take place in a confidential environment (e.g. HA who share an office will be unable to offer advice over the phone).
  • The role of the HA is voluntary and unpaid. Oxford Brookes considers the position to be an important one and gives staff reasonable time off from their normal post to allow them to undertake the duties connected to the role.
  • Any member of staff wishing to become a HA must have the agreement of their line manager.
  • Before setting a particular date and time for a meeting/advice session HA will get agreement from their line manager. It will not be necessary for them to give details of who the meeting is with.
  • Meetings should last no more than 45 minutes.
  • HA will aim to meet individual members of staff no more than 4 times to discuss an individual complaint.
  • HA will take on no more than 4 different cases in any one year. After this point they will refer any phone calls or enquiries to another HA.
  • All HA receive training designed to enable them to fulfil their role competently and confidently.
  • Monitoring and Data Protection
    • HA may need to meet with members of staff more than once. To avoid the need to recover ground already discussed HA may, with the agreement of the employee, take notes at a meeting.
    • Notes will be anonymised as far as possible and will only be used to provide a history of discussions and advice.
    • Any notes taken during a meeting will be stored in a locked confidential location, which is only accessible to the HA. Notes will be stored for a maximum of 6 months after the conclusion of an individual complaint. After this time they will be destroyed.
    • To assist with the University’s monitoring processes the HA will complete a monitoring form. The form is anonymous. It will detail the nature of the complaint but will not identify the alleged victims or perpetrators. The completed form will be returned to the EOD manager

Harassment Advisers

Do Do not
Offer guidance, help and support Undertake any investigations or interventions
Provide information on the formal and informal options available to remedy a harassment related issue Decide whether behaviour or conduct constitutes harassment
Respect the wishes of the member of staff Make decisions for the member of staff on how to proceed
Help with drawing up an unofficial letter to the other party or an official complaint if asked to do so by the member of staff Get involved in any management discussions or any other process outside the Harassment Adviser role concerning the case
Listen to the member of staff and allow them to talk through their worries Have to put up with abusive language or angry behaviour. If the member of staff's behaviour is unacceptable the session will be ended
Contact other HA or the EOD managers for general support, guidance, advice or clarification, without revealing the names of any complainants Discuss the specific details of an individual complaint with any other staff
Refer a member of staff to another HA if they feel they cannot help them for any reason Represent both sides in an allegation of harassment
  Get involved in a case where there could be a conflict of interest (eg where they are the member of staff's line manager)
Maintain confidentiality at all times unless they feel there is a serious and genuine risk of harm to either the member of staff or any other employees Continue to act in any situation where they are concerned in any way for their safety.