On 11 August 2022, the Charity Commission issued a press release following a working group that it co-chaired, to clarify the responsibilities that charities (and in particular, charity trustees) have in preventing and responding to incidents of bullying and harassment.
The press release followed a working group co-chaired by the Commission involving a range of charity sector and other representatives.
The Commission response confirmed that charity trustees have a central role to play in recognising that there is no place for bullying and harassment within, or by, charities: they must ensure that their charity has clear policies in place to deal with any allegations.
Relevant policies that trustees should ensure are in place include welfare, discipline, and whistleblowing policies, as well as specific policies (and accompanying procedures) addressing bullying and harassment.
The Commission confirmed that sufficiently serious actual or alleged bullying or harassment incidents should be reported to the Commission as part of the Serious Incident Reporting regime.
The Commission confirmed that it is prepared to get involved in such allegations in situations where there is a high risk of harm. Such involvement can range from providing regulatory advice to trustees to the opening of a statutory inquiry. The Commission notes, however, that it is not the Commission’s role to resolve individual employment issues (which should be raised with the charity through their grievance procedures, and if necessary, escalated to the employment tribunal).
The working group is continuing to meet, and further updates will be available in due course.
For the full Charity Commission response, see here.