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Bullying & Harassment Policy

This page contains information on the Bullying & Harassment Policy in UCD. Here you will find who the policy applies to, a summary of the policy and associated processes as well definitions and outlines of responsibilities across a number of roles.

Page updated 23 August 2022

Policy summary

This section contains a brief summary of a UCD policy, however, in all cases the Policy remains the definitive source of information on the topic. Read the Bullying and Harassment policy now.

This policy applies to members of the UCD community (and others as defined in the policy) which includes:

  • All UCD employees, whether part time or full time, permanent or temporary; 
  • All students of UCD; 
  • Those engaged in Club activity such as graduates (player, committee member, coach/manager), those volunteering to coach/lead/manage, those being employed by the club to coach/ lead/ manage; 
  • Non-University employees who use University funds, facilities or other resources, including the University’s name and reputation, to carry out teaching and/or research, and/or participate in UCD-administered research, including retired employees, visiting faculty and researchers; consultants, contractors, affiliated hospital staff, industrial personnel and research fellows, regardless of obligations to other companies or institutions; and 
  • All persons conducting teaching and/or research at or under the auspices of UCD including at any of UCD’s overseas campus, including visiting faculty and researchers; consultants; contractors, Emeritus or adjunct appointments; and research fellows.

In this Policy, “others” shall be taken to include, but is not limited to:

  • contractors, and sub-contractors;
  • alumni and past employees;
  • vendors;
  • those who engage and/or who interact with the University and/or its associated bodies;
  • those who provide services to the University;
  • those who avail of services and/or are visitors of and to the University or any of its associated bodies;
  • All employees of UCD’s wholly owned subsidiary companies.

As with all policies and procedures, the Bullying & Harassment policy assigns responsibilities to a range of roles within the University, from senior management of the University to individual level. Details of these responsibilities can be found in the policy.

Find out more about the formal complaints process


Bullying is defined as repeated inappropriate behaviour, direct or indirect, whether verbal, physical or otherwise, conducted by one or more persons against another or others, at the place of work/study and/or in the course of employment/study which could reasonably be regarded as undermining the individual’s right to dignity at the place of work/study.  An isolated incident of the behaviour described in this definition may be an affront to dignity at work but, as a once off incident, is not considered to be bullying.

The University will apply the following criteria set out by the Code of Practice on Bullying 2021:

  • an on-going series of accumulation of seriously negative targeted behaviours against a person or persons to undermine their esteem and standing in a harmful, sustained way
  • behaviour is offensive, on-going, targeted and outside any reasonable “norm'
  • a pattern and trend are involved so that a reasonable person would regard such behaviour as clearly wrong, undermining and humiliating
  • involves repeated incidents or a pattern of behaviour that is usually intended to intimidate, offend, degrade or humiliate a particular person or group of people – but the intention is not important in the identification process

However, unacceptable behaviour is not tolerated and you should refer to the Grievance Procedure or the Student Code of Conduct to resolve an isolated incident.

Examples of bullying behaviour

The following are common, but not exclusive examples of bullying behaviour:

  • Verbal abuse/insults
  • Physical abuse
  • Being treated less favourably than colleagues
  • Intrusion – pestering, spying or stalking
  • Unjustifiable exclusion e.g. withholding information, isolation or non-co-operation, non-response or repeated unavailability, exclusion from classroom and social activities.
  • Menacing behaviour
  • Offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, open aggression, threats, shouting
  • Undermining behaviour
  • Controlling, coercive and threatening behaviour
  • Excessive monitoring of work
  • Humiliation
  • Gossip
  • Withholding work-related information 
  • Blame for things beyond the person’s control
  • Misuse of power through means intended to undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient
  • Bullying and Harassment on Social Media whether conducted on a personal device or University equipment

Bullying at work does not include reasonable and essential feedback or constructive criticism or discipline arising from the management of the conduct or performance of an employee at work or actions taken which can be justified on grounds such as safety, health and welfare at work.  For example, an employee whose performance is justifiably signalled in a proper and reasonable manner as being below required standards may feel threatened and insecure in their work but this in itself does not indicate bullying.  In addition, differences of opinion, arguments or other interpersonal conflict can occur in the workplace, classroom, in student clubs, teams and in student societies.  Bullying or harassment should not be confused with these situations. 


Harassment is defined as any form of unwanted conduct related to any of the discriminatory grounds under the Employment Equality Acts which has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity and creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.  Harassment can be a one-off incident. The Formal Investigation Procedures outline a range of informal options and the formal process for resolving issues of a harassment nature. The discriminatory grounds in UCD include:

  • Age: a person’s age, this does not apply to a person aged under 16. Children are covered by Child Protection legislation and the University’s Child Protection Policy.
  • Civil status: a person’s civil status be it single, married, separated, divorced, widowed, civil partnered and formerly civil partnered
  • Disability: includes people with physical, intellectual, learning, cognitive or emotional disabilities and a range of medical conditions
  • Family status: being a parent of a person under 18 years or the resident primary carer or parent of a person with a disability
  • Gender (including gender identity): a person’s gender identity including male, female, other
  • Membership of the Traveller community: now recognised as an ethnic group
  • Race: includes race, skin colour, nationality or ethnic origin
  • Religion: a person’s religious belief, background, outlook or none
  • Sexual orientation: a person’s sexual orientation including gay, lesbian, bisexual and heterosexual
  • Socio-economic status: a combined economic and sociological measure of a person's work experience and of an individual's economic and social position in relation to others, based on income, education, and occupation.

Examples of harassment

  • Verbal harassment – jokes, comments, ridicule or songs
  • Written harassment – including text messages, emails or notices
  • Physical harassment – jostling, shoving or any form of assault
  • Intimidatory harassment – gestures, posturing or threatening poses
  • Visual displays such as posters, emblems or badges which may be deemed as harassment 
  • Inappropriate scrutiny of the activities of others
  • Isolation or exclusion from social activities
  • Unreasonably changing a person’s job content or targets
  • Pressure to behave in a manner that the person thinks is inappropriate
  • Cyber-harassment whether conducted on a personal device or company equipment.

Key Principles

The key principles of the policy are to: 

  • Ensure that the University has proactive measures in place to promote a positive culture of dignity and respect and to create a working and learning environment which makes clear the expectations of members of our community with regard to respecting each other and that unacceptable behaviour will not be tolerated.
  • Create a safe and respectful environment where people feel encouraged to come forward with the issues they are experiencing and have trust and confidence in the process that the issues will be dealt with appropriately and fairly.
  • Ensure that there is a range of trained supports available, both voluntary and full-time dedicated roles, whom you can approach and seek support and guidance from and that these are widely communicated.
  • Ensure that there are a range of informal and formal options for resolution available for those experiencing issues of a bullying and harassment nature and to promote informal options as the most effective means of dispute resolution as per the Code of Practice on Bullying 2021 where appropriate.
  • Promote understanding of our definitions of bullying and harassment.
  • Expectation that you will co-operate with all efforts in order to resolve complaints under the policy and without undue delay as appropriate.
  • Expectation that you will respect the confidentiality of the process.  However, you are strongly encouraged to seek support from the support services available and your family which will involve you sharing information confidentially with them.  
  • Enhance transparency by having external expert involvement at key stages of the dignity and respect process including external membership on the screening panel, the appointment of external investigators, the use of external mediators and external membership on the EDI Dignity and Respect Oversight Sub-Group.   
  • Have an effective and transparent monitoring and analysis process of dignity and respect related data, and the reporting of this data to relevant internal and external bodies on a defined periodic basis in order to demonstrate accountability.

Changes to the policy over time

Please note that this Policy should be reviewed on a regular basis in line with changes in the law, relevant case-law, feedback from people’s experience of the policy or other developments.

Contact UCD Dignity & Respect

University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.
T: 01 716 7716 | E: respect@ucd.ie | Location Map(opens in a new window)