A harassment policy helps to ensure that all staff members treat each other with dignity and respect. Learn how to write a harassment policy below and use our harassment policy template to create a policy for your business.
What is a Harassment Policy?
Harassment policies set forth your company’s expectations for staff behavior toward fellow employees, customers, vendors, and others who engage with your business. While many things can and should be governed by the simple concept of good professional business manners, the unfortunate truth is that not everyone knows how to behave appropriately. Legal sanctions may need to be applied in the event of extreme misconduct by an employee. A well-drafted harassment policy lets your staff know what is and is not acceptable conduct in the workplace. It also sets forth sanctions for misconduct. A harassment policy can thus save you a lot of headaches.
A harassment policy is also referred to as:
- Anti-harassment policy
- Employee harassment policy
- Sexual harassment policy
- Racial harassment policy
Harassment Covered by a Harassment Policy
You can use a harassment policy to guide your managers and staff in an employee handbook to establish a single policy that applies to everyone. Another option is to distribute customized policies that show each employee’s name and a statement saying that they have read the policy and agreed to abide by it.
Harassment policies usually include prohibitions against:
- Physical harassment, such as horseplay, physical bullying, or unwanted physical contact
- Verbal harassment, such as inappropriate language, jokes, racism, or other offensive comments
- Visual harassment, such as inappropriate signs, posters, clothing, or similar displays
What to Include in a Harassment Policy
Harassment policies should include the following:
- A preface explaining what the policy is, why it is essential, and why it will be taken seriously by your business
- Policy guidelines for employee relations within the company and with customers, vendors, and the public
- Specific procedures for reporting violations
- Specific procedures for investigating violations
- Specific remedies for proven violations
- Specific personnel to handle reports and investigations
How to Implement a Company Harassment Policy
Once you’ve completed your harassment policy and reviewed it to ensure you have included all of the necessary provisions, your work still isn’t complete. For the policy to be effective, it must be implemented, just like any other business procedure in your company. The following steps may prove helpful:
Publish the Policy Within the Business
Your employees need to know about the new policy. Include the harassment policy in your employee handbook, and ensure every staff member has a copy.
Train the Employees
Ensure each employee has training time with a manager, human resources staff, or an outside consultant. Run through specific examples of prohibited behavior, and follow up by asking employees what they learned from the training.
Pay Close Attention to the Complaint Procedure
Employees’ complaints must be taken seriously for the policy to be successful. Investigate all complaints with care.
How to Write a Harassment Policy
Here are some simple steps to follow when writing a harassment policy:
- Download the harassment policy sample from Legal Templates and review it. Note any items marked as optional, as you will need to decide whether or not to include them.
- Ensure you have listed the types of harassment that will not be tolerated. The Legal Templates sample is a starting point. You may wish to add other categories not yet governed by law.
- You should ensure that you, your managers, and your employees all understand the consequences of violating the policy. You will ultimately need to enforce it, and you must enforce it consistently and fairly.
- You should identify a person in the company who will be responsible for receiving employee complaints. This person might work in human resources or some other administrative role but should be outside the management chain of authority for the complaining employee. Alternatively, you might consider allowing an employee to report harassment allegations to any manager outside their direct supervision.
- You ought to establish a policy explaining what managers must do when they receive complaints. Set deadlines to ensure that managers take action in a timely fashion.
- You should determine who is responsible for following up on complaint investigations and establish a timeline for this process. You may wish to state that employees who complain will be kept informed about the status of their complaints.
- Once you have finalized your policy, you should ensure your managers and employees are fully aware. Ideally, you should give each person a written copy of the policy and have them sign a written acknowledgment that they have read it.
Harassment Policy Sample
Follow this link for a simple, easy-to-understand draft of a harassment policy that you can use as an example and make your own.