Harassment and Bullying Prevention and Management

To be read in conjunction with
Approval Date
1 July 2019
Approved By
Chief Executive
Next Review
30 June 2020
Deputy Chief Executive: People, Culture and Safety

This policy is designed to minimise the risk of bullying and/or harassment to all people in the Otago Polytechnic Limited (Ltd) community, and to provide fair and safe procedures for dealing with concerns and complaints of this nature.

Otago Polytechnic Ltd is committed to providing an environment that is enjoyable, safe, and secure for all learners, staff, and visitors. It is not the intention of this policy to prohibit mutually enjoyed humour and the development of friendships within the Polytechnic.

In dealing with any harassment and bullying complaints or concerns Otago Polytechnic Ltd will not discriminate on the grounds of gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, marital status, age, disability, religious or ethical beliefs, or political opinions.


Any investigation or dealing with a concern or complaint around harassment and/or bullying will be dealt with according to the following legislative requirements:

The Employment Relations Act 2000 and the Human Rights Act 1993 clearly state that harassment is unlawful.

The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 clearly outlines the employer responsibility to provide a safe work environment (which includes emotional and physical safety) and manage hazards and stress. If a breach of this legislation is proven, Otago Polytechnic Ltd and/or the individuals involved may be liable for significant financial penalties.

In addition, forms of harassment and bullying may constitute criminal acts or offence under the provisions of the Crimes Act 1961 or the Harassment Act 1997.


1.         Staff and learners of Otago Polytechnic Ltd are expected to behave towards all people in a manner that is respectful and that fosters a harassment and bullying free environment. Please refer to the guidelines for definitions and examples, not limited to, types of behaviours considered to be harassment and bullying.

2.         Harassment or bullying by electronic means is prohibited. This includes sending, viewing, writing, drawing, taking, displaying, printing, or downloading objectionable material via physical and/or electronic media (e.g., computer, PDA, and phone text or pixt, still or video camera).

3.         No material of a sexual or other discriminatory nature is to be misused or displayed in the Polytechnic unless such display is necessary for legitimate teaching or approved research purposes, e.g., health science, art or fashion and design teaching or in classes where such material is to be discussed so that issues relating to it, for example sexism, can be explored.

4.         No staff member or learner shall harass or bully another person. Proven harassment or bullying constitutes misconduct and accordingly:

4.1.       Staff who are found to have harassed or bullied another, or behaved contrary to this policy, may be disciplined, and/or dismissed from employment.

4.2.       Learners who are found to have harassed or bullied another, or behaved contrary to this policy, may be reprimanded, fined, suspended or expelled from the course in which they are enrolled.

5.         Otago Polytechnic Ltd will also take all reasonable steps to prevent harassment or bullying of its staff and learners by persons outside Otago Polytechnic Ltd, i.e. learners on work experience or placement, of which it becomes aware.

6.         With regard to staff, it is the responsibility of the formal leader, by modelling appropriate behaviour, to monitor the workplace and intervene in any inappropriate behaviour or potential harassment or bullying situation of which they become aware.

7.         A staff member may raise an issue directly with their formal leader or should that not be a feasible course of action due to either formal leader involvement in the issue or lack of support, the staff member may raise concerns with any senior staff member.

8.         With regard to learners, it is the responsibility of lecturers to implement this policy by modelling appropriate behaviour, monitoring learners’ behaviour, and reporting any inappropriate behaviour or potential harassment or bullying situation of which they become aware to the appropriate Head of College.

9.         Any staff member or learner who has a concern about the behaviour of a formal leader, supervisor, lecturer, co-worker, fellow learner, or other person with whom they are obliged to work with, is assured that their complaint will be taken seriously, treated with an appropriate level of confidentiality and investigated quickly and fairly.

          Refer to guidelines for Resolution flowchart and guidelines document Harassment and Bullying Prevention and Management Guideline for processes

10.     Individuals who make a complaint about harassment and/or bullying of a serious nature can claim protection under the Protected Disclosures Act 2000 and Otago Polytechnic Limited policy Protected Disclosure of Serious Wrongdoing (Whistleblowing).

10.1.    The grounds for claims of serious wrongdoing are specified in the Act and reflected in the Otago Polytechnic Ltd protected disclosures policy, which may be a legitimate alternative course of action to the processes outlined in this policy.

11.     Feedback on progress of an investigation may be given to the complainant. This will be subject to legal requirements for Otago Polytechnic Ltd to act as a fair and reasonable employer for all of its staff. To protect both the complainant and the alleged harasser/bully, a generic update on actions taken can be given.

12.     Privacy and confidentiality – to allow fair process to occur, it is important that both complainant and the accused are careful with what they say to others. There are significant issues around rumour and defamation. Guidance and support will be given by People, Culture and Safety, to all parties, through the investigation process.

13.     Please note that should a complaint result in disciplinary investigation procedures, then some detail cannot be provided to the complainant due to employment law and contractual arrangements. The ultimate decision by the employer will be conveyed in writing to the complainant.


Harassment and Bullying Prevention and Management SOP 


  • Performance Review
  • Learner Discipline
  • Resolution of Learner Complaints
  • Protected Disclosure of Serious Wrongdoing (Whistleblowing)


  • Otago Polytechnic Limited Values and Behaviours
  •  Staff Assistance Programme