New policy planned after case review shows two Norfolk council employees fired for harassment

Norfolk County Council headquarters. County Hall Martineau Lane, Norwich. Photo: Steve Adams

Norfolk County Council headquarters. County Hall Martineau Lane, Norwich. Photo: Steve Adams - Credit: Archant

Two council workers have been dismissed over harassment incidents in the last two years, while a further claim involved 'elements of sexual harassment'.

Norfolk County Council has reviewed all cases raised by employees, both formally and informally, after the recent string of high-profile reports in politics and the entertainment industry.

It has decided to launch a new bullying and harassment policy, which will come before its policy and resources committee later this month, to set out its 'zero tolerance' stance towards the behaviour.

Papers revealed before the meeting show that over the last two years there was one formal complaint at the council 'which had an element of sexual harassment', and a further two informal allegations of that nature.

Two people were dismissed for cases involving general bullying and harassment, five resulted in informal management advice and two were deemed unfounded.

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Alison Thomas, deputy leader at the council and its lead member for equality issues, said: 'We have a zero tolerance approach to bullying and harassment, including sexual harassment. We believe all our colleagues have a right to work in an environment that is respectful to all.

'While there's no evidence that this is a major problem at the council, every incident is unacceptable – and we're ensuring that staff and councillors know this. Our staff have the full support of members and managers, if they need to report an issue.'

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The council said, in the papers, there did not appear to be an 'underlying system issue' with sexual harassment.

They said: 'Reassuringly there is no evidence of a systemic problem of sexual harassment in the county council or one of bullying or harassment generally.'

Bullying and harassment complaints are currently dealt with through the council's grievance procedure, but will soon be handled under the new policy, which will be introduced by the end of the month.

The council said it will give a clear statement of commitment from senior members and managers making it clear that bullying and harassment is unlawful will not be tolerated and is a disciplinary offence.

The policy and resources committee will discuss the report when it meets on Monday, January 29.

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