What To Include in Your Harassment Policy

Every business needs a clear harassment policy. Not only does this help employees know exactly what constitutes harassment, but ensures they know how to report any incidents.

If you already have a harassment policy, you should review it regularly to see if there are ways to make it easier to understand or if any new statements should be included.

Clear Language

A mistake many businesses make is using legalese throughout their harassment policy. Often times, it’s easier to just use a template and choose the items that apply to you. The problem is only lawyers really understand legalese. Employees probably won’t have a clue as to what the oddly phrased statements in the policy mean.

Instead, ensure your entire policy is written in simple words and statements. If you want to reduce harassment, this is the best place to start.

No Harassment Is Tolerated

The number one thing to include in your harassment policy is that no form of harassment will be tolerated. While you’ll define what types of actions constitute harassment later in the policy, it’s important to let employees know that you want every employee to be protected and feel safe.

List Types Of Harassment

Define the types of harassment your policy prohibits. Having the general statement helps, but employees should have a list that helps them clearly see that whatever they’re doing to others or having done to them isn’t right. While most people typically think of sexual harassment first, that’s just one form. Some of the major forms include:

· Sexual

· Discriminatory

· Physical

· Power or Intimidation

· Personal

· Verbal

· Psychological

· Visual

· Retaliation

· Online

Define each type and provide examples. You may also need to list sub-categories. For example, with discriminatory, you may want to list items such as race, gender and religion.

Explain The Reporting Process

Now that you know what types of harassment to include in your harassment policy, it’s time to explain to employees what to do when they see or experience harassment. Detail which people or departments employees can contact and include information about anonymous reporting systems and how to use them.

List how those who report harassment are kept safe throughout an investigation. This would also include keeping the reporter’s name anonymous unless absolutely necessary. Otherwise, employees may fear retaliation if they try to report anything.

Explain The Investigation Process

Finally, explain how your business investigates harassment claims. This should include how the accused are interviewed, what actions the victim needs to take, who performs the investigation, how long it should take and what happens if a claim is proven or not. It’s important for those reporting to know that something is being done in the background.

Detail The Consequences

As a final section, detail the consequences of harassment in the workplace. This can include anything from being reprimanded to being fired. Also list the consequences of trying to retaliate against victims. Once again, it’s all about keeping employees safe and making them feel safer reporting incidents.