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Screen industries launch new policy on bullying and harassment

BECTU is supporting a new industry policy on bullying and harassment led by BFI and BAFTA.

14 February 2018

Representatives from across the UK's screen industries are leading the way on support for workers experiencing bullying and harassment.

A new set of Principles and Guidance, published today Wednesday 14 February, will be shared across the sectors to signal zero-tolerance of conduct which robs workers of respect and dignity at work. The new policy addresses bullying and harassment, including sexual harassment. 

The project, in development since the Weinstein scandal rocked the US film industry last October, is being led by the BFI and BAFTA in partnership with several other key industry organisations including BECTU. 

Principles

The eight principles, which all employer and industry organisations are being urged to adopt, are:

  1. Everyone is responsible for creating and maintaining an inclusive workplace that is positive and supportive.
  2. We recognise that harassment may be unlawful under the Equality Act 2010.
  3. Those of us who are employers accept our responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. 
  4. We do not tolerate bullying and harassment, including sexual harassment, and will ensure that processes are in place for the reporting and investigation of these serious issues.
  5. We recognise that bullying and harassment can have significant adverse impacts on the productivity, long-term health and well-being of affected people and we will work to eradicate it. This will mean providing adequate protection for complainants and victims, and, where bullying or harassment is found to have occurred, taking appropriate action against bullies or harassers.
  6. We value inclusivity, appreciate difference, welcome learning from others, and consider people equal without prejudice or favour. We build relationships based on mutual respect. We will all work to give and receive feedback in a constructive way, which we know will improve creativity and productivity.
  7. We understand that reporting bullying or harassment can be intimidating. We will respect confidentiality where possible and aim to make the process of reporting clear and straightforward. If anyone comes forward to report behaviour which might amount to bullying or harassment, we will endeavour to investigate objectively. Individuals who have made complaints of bullying and harassment or participate in good faith in any investigation should not suffer any form of reprisal or victimisation as a result. 
  8. We will respect each other’s dignity, regardless of the seniority of our role in an organisation.

Inclusion and transparency

Every industry organisation is being encouraged to share the Principles and the Guidance with their workforce on an on-going basis and to keep the policy visible and available to the workforce.
Commenting on the development, Gerry Morrissey, head of BECTU, said:

“If these Principles are adopted by industry this will be a step-change for our screen sectors, and the creative industries more broadly. We’re immensely proud of the work and the workforce but we also know that more time, commitment and leadership are needed to create a working environment which says no to bullying and harassment. We’re very encouraged by these Principles and the Guidance and we’ll be playing our part to ensure that they are understood and upheld.”

Change

The Guidance serves as a template for a bullying and harassment policy and points users to other agencies, including ACAS, if more advice is needed.

Partners in the policy who include the BFI, BAFTA, BECTU, Creative Skillset, Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund, Directors UK, Edinburgh TV Festival, Equity, PACT, the Production Guild, Sixteen Films and Women in Film & TV (WFTV), support the call for all workers - staff, freelance and agency - to share in the policy wherever the work is taking place and to have routine access to it. It's expected that welfare officers will be appointed in each workplace and/or on each production, to support the workforce and that the Principles will form part of contracts of employment.

BECTU will be taking steps to have the Principles and Guidance incorporated into the new TV Drama Agreement and into the soon to be released Major Motion Picture Agreement. The BFI will be insisting that all projects in receipt of BFI funding will have to adopt the new policy. 

Guidance: aims and objectives

"This Guidance will help workplaces to go beyond the legal requirements and create policies and procedures to identify and deal with bullying and harassment if it occurs – no matter the employment status or seniority of the person involved. It encourages a ‘no bystander’ culture and offers some tools for those who witness such behaviour to tackle it when they see it.

"However, its primary objective is prevention – by encouraging all employers and workers to promote their commitment to stamping out bullying and harassment, and to clearly understand the processes that are in place to deal with it, we can all have a role in sending a message that such behaviour will not be tolerated.

"We encourage all those in the industry to familiarise themselves with the recommendations for both employers and employees. We believe that changing the culture is not just about what employers can do, but also about workers having a shared expectation of what structures should be in place to tackle bullying and harassment in the workplace."

The BFI issued a full press statement to accompany the launch.

Download quotes from industry leaders

Download the Guidance document.

The policy will be reviewed at six monthly intervals and updated as necessary.

Industry helpline led by CTBF

It is expected that the launch of the policy will be followed by familiarisation and education across the screen sectors ahead of the launch of an industry-wide helpline sponsored by the industry charity, the Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund and the Production Guild. The helpline will support workers on and off screen with the whole range of welfare issues including bullying and harassment. 

Whilst BECTU supports members on a range of employment issues, including bullying and harassment, it's clear that we and the employers we work with need to do more to encourage people to use the policies which already exist, as well as informal discussion, to challenge abuse at work. Sarah Ward, national secretary wrote on these issues last November. 

Also last November, BECTU contacted several leading industry bodies including BAFTA, PACT, WFTV and the Production Guild to promote the inclusion of a respect at work clause in all contracts. The union also urged the industry to recognise the need for new measures to support freelancers facing bullying and harassment to counter the constraints of production and the negative effect of short term contracts on efforts to tackle bullying and harassment. "The new policy meets many of our concerns and more; now we need to work together to create the kind of working environment in which everyone, whatever their role, is respected." said BECTU.

BECTU believes that the new policy for the screen industries could be usefully expanded to cover the creative industries. Last month, The Stage newspaper, published its study into bullying and harassment in the theatre sector which also revealed a need for strong leadership and fresh thinking in support of workers and to counter those who abuse their power at work.

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