Bullying and Harassment Policy
ARTICLE 1 INTRODUCTION
- LACAS is a private educational institution in Pakistan. It strives to promote an environment and workplace that is free from harassment of any kind. Every Member has a right to be treated with dignity and respect. As an institution, we are committed to maintaining an atmosphere that encourages and fosters appropriate conduct at the workplace. LACAS has a strict zero tolerance approach towards harassment. This Harassment Policy (the “Policy”) has been adopted by LACAS. It explains what constitutes harassment and sets forth a reporting mechanism and a procedure for institutional disciplinary action. The list of defined words under this Policy are outlined in Appendix 1.
- A harassment free environment is vital for Members to pursue their goals, to be able to participate in the free exchange of ideas, to share equally in the benefits of the school’s employment and educational opportunities and to fulfil their potential. This Policy seeks to ensure all Members are aware of their rights and responsibilities, to encourage the reporting of Prohibited Conduct, to provide a clear and simple complaints procedure and to treat all complaints in a sensitive and timely manner. We aim to provide an institutional structure where all Members feel confident that their complaints will be taken seriously and dealt with in line with established procedures.
- In certain situations, LACAS provides for informal resolution of complaints. Guidelines regarding the informal procedure are provided for in Appendix 2.
- This Policy has been drafted in line with the requirements under the Protection Against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act 2010 (the “2010 Act”).
ARTICLE 2 SCOPE OF THE POLICY
- This Policy applies to all Members. For the purpose of this Policy a Member is: –
- any student of LACAS;
- any person working at LACAS including any administrative, research, teaching and non-teaching employees of LACAS;
- third parties including contractors, vendors, visitors, guest speakers, volunteers or interns.
- The Policy applies when the Prohibited Conduct occurs: –
- on LACAS Premises;
- off LACAS premises provided the conduct occurred during a School Event or School Recognised Program or Activity; or
- on social media platforms.
- Each Member shall be bound by this Policy. They will be deemed to have agreed to: –
- not engage in any form of Prohibited Conduct;
- submit to the jurisdiction of the Inquiry Committee to investigate into apparent or suspected Prohibited Conduct.
- This Policy supplements and does not affect the application of any national laws, rules or regulations. It does not impact any other legal remedies that may be available to parties.
ARTICLE 3 PROHIBITED CONDUCT
- For the purpose of this Policy Prohibited Conduct means: –
- any act constituting harassment under the 2010 Act.
- any conduct that has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. The details giving examples of the different types of harassment and conduct that may constitute Prohibited Conduct are outlined in Appendix 3.
ARTICLE 4 PROCEDURE FOR MAKING A COMPLAINT
- Any Member wishing to make a complaint under this Policy must go to the Designated Officer’s Office and collect a harassment complaint form. The form includes details such as the identity and status of the Complainant and the Accused, details concerning the incident(s) or conduct giving rise to the complaint, relevant date(s) and location(s) and the identity and status of any witnesses to the incident.
- If the Complainant is a student, the harassment complaint form should be signed by a parent or legal guardian. Where the signature of a parent or legal guardian is absent, the student must provide reasons for the absence of a signature.
- Once the harassment complaint form is completed it must be submitted to the Designated Officer. The Designated Officer must place the completed form before the Inquiry Committee.
- The harassment complaint form is attached as Appendix 4.
ARTICLE 5 INQUIRY COMMITTEE
- The Inquiry Committee shall consist of three Committee Member of whom at least one shall be a woman. One Committee Member shall be from the senior management and one shall be a senior employee. The appointment of the third member is at the discretion of LACAS. It may be an independent individual, or someone affiliated with the institution. A Chairperson shall be designated from amongst them by the Competent Authority.
- The duties of the Chairperson of the Inquiry Committee include, but are not limited to, maintaining order during hearings, answering procedural questions, granting or denying adjournments, arranging for a permanent audio recording of the proceedings, which shall constitute the official record of those proceedings, and reporting decisions and recommendations of the Inquiry Committee to the Competent Authority. All these duties shall be undertaken in consultation with the other members of the Inquiry Committee.
- Committee Members will keep themselves informed regarding the national laws on harassment, the sensitivities surrounding harassment cases, the penalties and sanctions appropriate for varying degree of breaches and the inquiry procedure provided for by this Policy.
- If any Committee Member is for any reason unable or unwilling to continue to serve on the Inquiry Committee, the Competent Authority may appoint a replacement.
- Committee Members shall serve for two years which term may be extended by the Competent Authority. Any Committee Member (including the Chairperson) may be removed by the Competent Authority and a replacement may be appointed by the Competent Authority to serve any remaining term.
ARTICLE 6 CONDUCT OF PROCEEDINGS
- The Inquiry Committee, within three (3) days of receipt of a written complaint shall: –
- communicate to the Accused charges and statements of allegations leveled against him, the formal receipt of which will be given;
- require the accused within seven days from the day the charge is communicated to him to submit a written defense and on his failure to do so without reasonable cause, the Committee shall proceed ex-parte; and
- enquire into the charge and may examine such oral or documentary evidence in support of the charge or in defence of the accused as the Committee may consider necessary and each party shall be entitled to cross-examine the witnesses presented against the party.
- The Inquiry Committee shall have the power to: –
- summon and enforce attendance of any Member and examine them on oath;
- issue directions to the Parties in relation to the procedure and timetable to be followed in the proceedings;
- expedite or to adjourn, postpone or suspend its proceedings, upon such terms as it shall determine, where fairness so requires;
- pass any order it deems appropriate in the interests of justice.
- The Inquiry Committee may rely on any evidence it deems appropriate including but not limited to (i) the spoken or written testimony of the Complainant (ii) any video or photographic evidence of the incident or events before it (iii) any written communications on text or social media (iv) any proof of past verbal conversations (vi) character testimonials about Parties from any Members (v) the presence of multiple Complainants.
- The Inquiry Committee must ensure the following: –
- parties must be given a reasonably opportunity to present their case before the Inquiry Committee;
- parties must be allowed to have a family member or their legal counsel present when they are before the Inquiry Committee;
- all hearings must be Closed Hearings;
- the Inquiry Committee must reach a decision within thirty (30) days of the initiation of the inquiry absent special circumstances justifying an extended period;
- a written report should be prepared detailing all the reasons for the decision. If the Accused is found to be in breach of this Policy, the Inquiry Committee must recommend to the Competent Authority the imposition of one or more penalties;
- the Competent Authority shall impose the penalty recommended by the Inquiry Committee within one (1) week of the receipt of the decision;
- Where any procedural matter is not provided for by this Policy, the Inquiry Committee may after hearing submissions from the parties and guided by the principles of fairness, and by the letter and spirit of the 2010 Act establish any appropriate procedure.
ARTICLE 7 PENALITIES
- Minor Penalties for Members not including students: –
- withholding, for a specific period, promotion of increment;
- stoppage, for a specific period, at efficiency bar in the times-scale, otherwise than for unfitness to cross such bar; and
- recovery of any compensation payable to the Complainant from pay or any other source of the Accused including from any amount payable by the school to the Accused.
- Major Penalties for Members not including students: –
- reduction to a lower post or timescale, or to a lower stage in timescale;
- compulsory retirement;
- removal from service;
- dismissal from service;
- Major Penalties Against Students: –
- Disciplinary probation for a set period of time, during which further violations of this Policy or any other LACAS policy will be grounds for suspension or expulsion.
- Minor Penalties Against Students: –
- Tendering a written or oral apology to the Complainant;
- Compulsory counselling;
- Removal from and/or restricted participation in academic or extracurricular activities;
- Reprimand/Disciplinary Warning;
- Revocation of honours or awards.
- The Inquiry Committee may consider other remedial measures where appropriate to prevent the recurrence of a breach of this Policy and taking into account circumstances it considers relevant.
ARTICLE 8 INTERIM MEASURES
- Where there are reasonable grounds to suspect a Member has engaged in Prohibited Conduct, the Inquiry Committee may impose an interim measure which may apply until it reaches a final decision or for such other period as deemed appropriate by the Inquiry Committee. Such interim measures may include suspension or for a no-contact directive to be issued.
ARTICLE 9 RESPONSBILITIES OF MEMBERS
- Employees have a responsibility to: –
- read, understand and adhere to this Policy;
- be respectful to all Members and maintain the highest standards of conduct;
- attend mandatory training sessions arranged by LACAS regarding appropriate standards of behavior and conduct constituting a breach of this Policy;
- be proactive in developing and maintaining effective working relationships;
- report any witnessed or suspected incidents of harassment to their Supervisors;
- direct any requests for training as well as any questions about the Policy to the Designated Officer;
- cooperate with the Inquiry Committee as and when it is required;
- maintain confidentiality when they may be privy to information regarding an ongoing investigation.
- Supervisors have a responsibility to: –
- report to the Designated Officer at the earliest possible opportunity any instances of reported or suspected harassment. This will include instances where they observe what may be Prohibited Conduct or for any other reason suspect that harassment is occurring;
- be aware that they will be subject to discipline for engaging in retaliation against any Member for reporting a harassment claim;
- take all appropriate measures to promote a harmonious environment, free of any form of Prohibited Conduct. They must act as role models by upholding the highest standards of conduct;
- be responsible for implementation of the Policy in their respective departments/offices;
- actively ensure no Victimisation takes place against the Complainant;
- offer guidance to Members who seek it regarding this Policy and the procedure for bringing a complaint;
- ensure the wide dissemination to all Members of the Policy;
- report annually to the Competent Authority on the implementation of the Policy.
- Students have a responsibility to: –
- comply with the Policy;
- maintain confidentiality of information provided during an investigation or complaint;
- come forward if called as a witness by the Inquiry Committee;
- be honest and cooperative during the Inquiry Committee’s investigation;
- refrain from retaliating against the Complainant in any way.
- Designated Officers have a responsibility to: –
- attend targeted training by professionals in the field, to learn about the particular sensitivities that surround issues of harassment and the procedures that effect fair resolutions;
- deal with harassment complaints in a serious and sensitive manner;
- place before the Inquiry Committee all harassment complaint forms.
ARTICLE 11 PREVENTATIVE MEAUSRES
As part of its commitment to a harassment free environment, LACAS shall take the following measures to minimize the occurrence of harassment.
- All new staff members will be provided with a copy of the Policy as a standard part of their induction.
- The Policy will be translated into the relevant community languages where required to ensure it is accessible to all Members from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
- The policies and practices in place will be posted on social media and the LACAS website.
- There will be targeted training sessions for Supervisors completion of which will be a requirement for advancement to successive levels of responsibility.
ARTICLE 12 CONFIDENTIALITY
- LACAS is committed to keeping all complaints confidential to ensure fairness for all parties involved and to protect their privacy. Employees, Supervisors, and other Members who are involved in or aware of a complaint or investigation are expected to protect the confidentiality, sensitivity and privacy of all parties involved to the maximum extent possible.
- Information will only be disclosed to the Inquiry Committee to support prompt action during the complaints procedure or when complying with applicable legal obligations.
ARTICLE 13 APPEALS
- Any Member aggrieved by the decision of the Inquiry Committee on whom Minor or Major Penalty is imposed may within thirty (30) days of written communication of decision prefer an appeal to an Ombudsman established under the 2010 Act.
- A complainant aggrieved by the decision of the Inquiry Committee may also prefer appeal within thirty (30) days of the decision to the Ombudsman.
- The Ombudsman may, on consideration of the appeal and any other relevant material, confirm, set aside, vary or modify the decision within thirty (30) days in respect of which such appeal is made. It shall communicate the decision to both the parties and
ARTICLE 14 MONITORING AND REVIEW
- This Policy will be reviewed every year after the latest revisions are implemented and revised as appropriate. This Policy is subject to review at any other time deemed necessary by the Competent Authority.
APPENDIX 1 DEFINITIONS
“Accused” means any person against whom a complaint has been made under this Policy.
“Closed Hearings” means a hearing not open to the public and carried out in private.
“Committee Member” means member of the Inquiry Committee.
“Competent Authority” means the Management Board of LACAS.
“Complainant” means any individual who has made a complaint on being aggrieved by an act of harassment.
“Designated Officer” means an officer appointed by the Competent Authority.
“Employee” means any individual who has signed an employment contract with LACAS.
“Inquiry Committee” As defined in Article 5.
“LACAS” means Lahore College of Arts and Sciences.
“LACAS Premises” means any owned or leased LACAS premises including any head office or academic office.
“Member” As defined in Article 2.1.
“Parties” means both parties to the complaint i.e. the Complainant and the Accused.
“Prohibited Conduct” As defined in Article 3.1.
“School Event or School Recognised Program or Activity” means any Event or Activity specifically authorised by LACAS. For students, this will include situations where they have a signed permission slip by their parents. This may include debate tournaments, auditions etc.
“Student” means any student currently enrolled at LACAS.
“Supervisors” means Principals and Academic Facilitators.
“The 2010 Act” means The Protection Against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act 2010.
“Victimisation” means the complainant being treated unfavourably or detrimentally by Members due to the harassment complaint they have made.
“Policy” means the LACAS Harassment Policy.
APPENDIX 2 INFORMAL MECHANISM
The informal approach is aimed at resolving a complaint of harassment through an assisted negotiation process between the person who believes he/she is being subjected to harassment and the alleged harasser, by the provision of advice and support on a strictly confidential basis.
- Individuals may wish to file a complaint informally and should do so to the Designated Officer. A complaint can be made or orally or in written form. The Designated Officer must inform Members making an informal complaint that he or she may initiate a formal complaint at any time, regardless of what steps are being or have been taken in response to an informal report.
- The Designated Officer must determine if the matter is appropriate for informal resolution. If it is concluded that it is possible to resolve the case in a prompt, fair and adequate manner through an informal process involving and with the consent of both the person reporting and the person whose conduct has violated the Policy, the Designated Officer may seek to do so.
- The informal approach may include the Designated Officer speaking to the Accused. The Designated Officer may privately convey the Complainants concerns and reiterate the Policy without assessing the merits of the case. Both parties must agree to explore informal action which may resolve the issue. This may include acknowledging the distress caused, providing an apology, seeking a commitment to changed behaviour, agreeing future standards of behaviour that are acceptable to all parties or exploring further training/coaching/counselling.
- Any party may terminate the informal process at any time without penalty. The School does not permit informal resolution for serious violations of this Policy and will only do so if it deems fit.
APPENDIX 3 GUIDELINES ON PROHIBITED CONDUCT
Harassmentt means any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favours or other verbal or written communication or physical conduct of a sexual nature, or sexually demeaning attitudes, causing interference with work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment, or the attempt to punish the complainant for refusal to comply to such a request or is made a condition for employment. Harassment may generally include but is not limited to: –
- jokes, offensive remarks or intimate questions conveyed orally or in writing;
- producing, sending or displaying inappropriate and/or offensive images or other material to, or about, a person or group;
- abuse, threats or intimidation towards a person or group;
- damaging, defacing or removing a person’s or group’s property;
- unwanted physical conduct such touching, staring at or hitting a person;
- racist or sexist jokes, or derogatory or stereotypical remarks about a particular ethnic or religious group of gender;
- offensive emails, text messages, or social media content;
- intrusion by pestering, spying and stalking;
- physically or verbally threatening or intimidating a person;
- persistently taunting, teasing, ostracising or ridiculing a person.
Harassment of a sexual nature is referred to as sexual harassment. A sexually harassing hostile environment includes, but is not limited to, words, signs, jokes, pranks, intimidation or physical violence which are of a sexual nature, or which are directed at an individual because of that individual’s sex. This includes but is not limited to: –
- inappropriate staring or leering that makes a person feel intimidated;
- Physical contract ranging from invasion of personal space, inappropriate touching or physical assault;
- sexual gestures, indecent exposure or inappropriate display of the body;
- displaying, sending, requesting or threatening to share sexually explicit pictures, posters or gifts that makes a person feel offended;
- sexually explicit comments made in person, via emails, SMS messages, social media or other electronic platforms or systems;
- requests or pressure for sex or other sexual acts;
- any other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature;
- stalking behaviour which includes being followed, watched or someone loitering nearby.