Harassment and Bullying Policy

This policy does not have contractual effect and is provided for guidance only.

Complaints Procedure for Freelance Workers Working on Boffola Picture’s Productions

Boffola Pictures Limited (the “Company”, “we”, “us”, “our”) is proud of its reputation as a first-class comedy production company and we work with some of the most exceptional talent in the industry. We know that Boffola Picture’s reputation is dependent on a diverse range of people who contribute to our success. Core to our values is the commitment to ensuring that everybody who works with us and is associated with us, in any location, can be confident that they will experience an environment which is collaborative and respectful and not threatening or intimidating. All of us have a responsibility to treat each other with dignity and respect and consequently, the Company will not tolerate harassment or bullying in any form.

This Policy will be communicated to all individuals engaged on Boffola Picture’s productions who work with us in any capacity (eg: actors, self-employed freelancers, sub-contractors, agency workers, etc). It will be easily accessible on our website and as part of our Production Handbook. Under this Policy, we will seek to ensure that everybody is treated equally regardless of seniority or the contract type under which they have been employed or engaged. We all have a responsibility to ensure this Policy is upheld. This means, we must be familiar with its content and be prepared to speak out if any of us experience or witness behaviour which is not consistent with its principles. Boffola Picture’s respective production teams will ensure that anybody who voices a genuine concern or makes a complaint of bullying or harassment will be fully supported.

Being Aware

In the UK, Harassment has been defined as unwanted conduct which is related to a relevant protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 (age, sex, disability, gender reassignment. race, religion or belief, and sexual orientation), which has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity, or creating for that person an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. Boffola Pictures is committed to ensuring that any unwanted conduct related to any of these characteristics or any other protected characteristics (e.g.marriage and civil partnership and pregnancy and maternity) will not be tolerated anywhere in the Company or on any of its productions whether those productions are based in the UK or elsewhere.

Bullying is offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient. It is usually a pattern of behaviour rather than isolated instances, involving negative behaviour targeted at an individual, or individuals, repeatedly and persistently over time.

Bullying and Harassment can both cause considerable distress to the person on the receiving end and can lead to feelings of anxiety and fear and to sickness and ill health.

Bullying and Harassment are not necessarily always obvious or apparent and can manifest themselves in a variety of ways. Inappropriate behaviour can take place between two individuals or may involve groups of people. It might be obvious or insidious and could be either persistent or an isolated incident. It may not always be face-to-face but occur in written communications – via email, for example. These are some examples which can be used to highlight the range of ‘unwanted conduct’ or inappropriate behaviour although this is by no means an exhaustive list:

  • Belittling a person’s creative input or not letting them express their opinion in the first place
  • Unfairly blaming others – e.g. for the failures of technology; humiliation and ridicule either in private, at meetings or in front of colleagues/customers/clients
  • Copying memos that are critical about someone to others who do not need to know
  • Threats, abuse, teasing, gossip, banter or practical jokes/pranks
  • Homophobic, transphobic, racist or sexist comments, offensive gestures
  • Excluding individuals or groups or socially isolating them
  • Overbearing supervision
  • Deliberately undermining a competent worker by overloading them
  • Preventing individuals progressing by intentionally blocking promotion or training opportunities
  • Cyber-bullying conducted online by email, online messaging, online gaming or social media channels, e.g. offensive language, embarrassing pictures or videos, fake profiles, death threats.

Conduct or comments become harassment when they are un-welcome to others or make others feel uncomfortable or threatened. This is why it is important that we all take care to consider the impact that our actions or comments may have on other people. We all need to take responsibility for our own behaviour.

The rise of online networking and the use of social media has seen the growth in a new type of bullying and harassment. Cyber bullying is any form of bullying, harassment or victimisation online. It can spill from on-screen to off-screen and affect face-to-face interactions between colleagues at work and away from work. Boffola Pictures will not tolerate any kind of cyber bullying or harassment.

Not all harassment is sexual, but it is important to be aware that with sexual harassment:

  • a hug, kiss on the cheek, or casual touch is not necessarily sexual harassment. The key is whether the behaviour was unwanted or offensive
  • it does not matter if a person has sexual feelings towards the recipient, only that the behaviour is of a sexual nature and that it was unwanted and offensive;
  • sexual harassment is gender neutral and orientation neutral. It can be perpetrated by any gender against any gender.

Sex-based harassment and sexual harassment both involve conduct that is unwanted from the perspective of the person on the receiving end and which has the purpose or effect either of violating the person’s dignity or creating an environment that he or she finds intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive. Sex-based harassment is unwanted conduct that is related to an individual’s sex or the sex of another person, for example, where an individual is constantly telling derogatory or demeaning jokes about women generally and another person finds this unwelcome and offensive.

Sexual harassment is behaviour that has a sexual content or sexual connotation and examples include:

  • unwanted physical touching
  • written or verbal comments of a sexual nature, such as remarks about a person’s appearance, questions about their sex life or offensive jokes
  • displaying sexually explicit images on a computer screen
  • sending emails with content of a sexual nature
  • promise of advantage for sexual concessions or the threat of disadvantage because of the rejection of sexual advances
  • sexual assault

Taking Action

We want to ensure that, regardless of your contractual status, if you have a serious concern whilst providing services to Boffola Pictures then you have a simple way of raising this with us. A genuine concern regarding inappropriate conduct within the workplace may be resolved informally and you should always try this approach first, where appropriate.

The Informal Reporting Process

Wherever possible and appropriate (and we understand this may not always be the case), you should address your concerns with the individual(s) causing you distress. You may be happy to do this by having a face-to-face conversation or you may prefer to write an email to them in the first instance. Whichever option you choose, you should explain how their behaviour is impacting you and tell them to stop whatever it is they are doing that is causing you distress, otherwise they may be unaware of the effect of their actions. So that they can be very clear about your concerns and have an opportunity to change or stop their behaviour, you should give them as much detail as possible, for example, dates, places, events that took place. You should be calm and firm, not aggressive. You should stick to the facts and be prepared to describe what happened even if you find it embarrassing.

If you are reluctant to speak to the individual(s) directly, you may prefer to speak to someone with whom you feel comfortable discussing the problem. This may be your Head of Department or your Line Producer on the respective production you’re engaged with. If you would prefer to speak to somebody outside of the Company, we can also arrange to put you in touch with Boffola Picture’s external HR adviser on a confidential basis. You should try and resolve your complaint as early as possible to reduce your stress and avoid the problem continuing and perhaps, getting worse. You should keep a diary of all incidents – records of dates, times, any witnesses, your feelings, etc. and keep copies of anything that is relevant, for example, emails.

If you try resolving the problem informally and that doesn’t work or you don’t feel the informal route is appropriate, then you can enter the Company’s formal process outlined below.

The Formal Reporting Process

Stage 1

Send your complaint in writing to (i) either your Head of Department or, if you think it is more appropriate, to the Line Producer or Producer of your programme, and (ii) to Boffola Picture’s designated Head of Production (Louise Mutter at ccing directors Kate Daughton and Shane Allen (each a “Boffola Director”). Please try to explain clearly what your complaint is about, including any supporting documents or evidence that you might have. Please do not ask colleagues to contribute to that complaint – if it is appropriate, we will talk to them during the course of any investigation.

Stage 2

You will then meet with the HoD or Line Producer (as appropriate) to talk about your concerns in a confidential environment. If you wish to bring a friend or colleague with you, then this is acceptable. At that meeting you will be asked what outcome you would like to see following your complaint. The HoD and/or Line Producer will then discuss the matter with Boffola Picture’s designated Head of Production and a  Boffola Director(s) and they will decide what action will be taken next. That might include a follow-up meeting with Boffola Picture’s designated Head of Production and/or Boffola Director(s) or an investigation into your complaint. (NB: Notes will be taken at all of these formal meetings.)

Stage 3

Once an investigation has concluded then we will write to you as soon as reasonably practicable, summarising our findings and our intended solution(s). This decision will be final.

Please remember that any investigation may involve us talking to your colleagues and, if the complaint is about one or more individuals, then we will need to talk to them directly about your concerns. We will not be able to share with you the detail of those discussions, which will need to remain confidential.

Stage 4

Depending on the nature of the complaint, some or all of the Boffola Directors will be kept informed of your complaint and any subsequent investigation. They may get involved directly and may want to meet you separately to discuss your concerns or the findings from any investigation.  If a complaint deals with a potential criminal offence then Boffola Pictures would refer the matter to the police or other relevant authority, although the decision whether to press charges will ultimately be yours.

This procedure does not apply to Boffola Picture’s employees, for whom there is a separate Harassment and Bullying Policy and grievance procedure to raise any complaints or concerns.

Further Help

For further help please see the following:

  • The Film and TV charity support line and website.
  • On series produced for the BBC, the BBC’s Respect at Work page, which also contains a separate reporting tool if you feel that internal conflicts prevent you raising an issue within Boffola Pictures.
  • Finally, you have access to an external whistleblowing service Navex, if you need to speak anonymously or if the other channels set out here have been followed and you still have concerns.

Don’t be a Bystander

Don’t be complicit. Challenge when you witness inappropriate behaviour or comments and don’t laugh at or encourage inappropriate jokes.

We all have a responsibility to ensure Boffola Pictures and its productions are safe working environments for everybody and we should not stand by and do nothing when we are aware that inappropriate behaviour is taking place, including in any situations where the inappropriate behaviour is being conducted by a third party such as a customer or supplier. If you witness someone else being bullied or harassed in any circumstances, you should raise your concerns as soon as possible. Speak to your Head of Department or your Line Producer or Producer. We will fully support you in raising a genuine concern.