The existing set of ‘Sexual Harassment Policy and Procedures’ (Policy) was implemented on 1 January 2012. Following a review to enhance the existing procedures in the light of operational experience, some revisions are made to the Policy and the ‘Procedures for Handling Formal Sexual Harassment Complaints’ as set out in Appendix III (a) of the Policy. Some footnotes are added to the relevant clauses of the ‘Regulations Governing Staff Discipline’ in handling substantiated complaints of sexual harassment. The revisions presented below will take effect from 1 December 2015:
A. ‘Sexual Harassment Policy and Procedures’
Clause 4.1 (vi) under Principles for Handling Sexual Harassment Complaints
To state clearly that subject to the requirements of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance, both the “victim-complainant” (he/she being the direct victim of the alleged harassment) and the alleged harasser should be informed of the outcome of the investigation including penalty recommended or imposed on the wrongdoer, if any.
Clause 4.2 (x) under Principles for Handling Sexual Harassment Complaints
To clarify that all relevant parties must have access to information about the range of resolution outcomes available, where appropriate.
B. ‘Procedures for Handling Formal Sexual Harassment Complaints’ (Appendix III(a))
To provide the Investigation Panel (IP) with a set of standard terms of reference which may be adopted or amended as circumstances dictate.
Clause 7 (d) under Interviewing Witnesses
To specify clearly that the IP will have the right to determine whether or not to interview witness(es) and the witness(es) to be interviewed.
Clause 7 (e) under Provision of Information Materials
To specify that the complainant and the alleged harasser should be made aware that all written submissions before the IP and records of interview conducted by the IP concerning either party may be provided to the other party; and all interviews with the complainant, alleged harasser and witness(es), if any, should be recorded in writing and signed and confirmed as correct by the individuals concerned. However, in case any of such individuals declines to sign the interview statement, the IP can still take into account such interview record in making its findings and decisions.
Clause 7 (f) under Findings and Clause 21
To clarify the standard of proof required in the proceedings which is consistent with the other related University regulations such as the ‘Regulations Governing Staff Discipline’.
To extend the timeline for the IP to complete its work from two months to three months.
To provide the IP with the option to make recommendation on the penalties to be imposed on the alleged harasser. In cases where the complainant is a victim of wrongdoing committed by the alleged harasser, both the victim-complainant and the alleged harasser should be informed of whether disciplinary action will be recommended against the alleged harasser and the penalties recommended, if any, such that both parties will have the chance to make representations to the IP before the IP concludes the case.
To reduce the role of the Chairperson of the Committee Against Sexual Harassment (CASH) in the case of substantiated sexual harassment complaints to the minimum to streamline the procedures between the IP and the relevant disciplinary authorities. He/she needs to be informed only of the IP’s findings and recommendations that disciplinary action will be pursued against the harasser, leaving the decision whether or not to adopt the recommendations of the IP to the disciplinary authorities concerned.
To state clearly that both the victim-complainant and the alleged harasser should be informed by the disciplinary authority concerned whether the complaint is established, and whether disciplinary action will be taken and the penalties imposed.
To specify that if the harasser wants to lodge an appeal against the recommendations of the IP and/or the decision of the disciplinary authority, he/she will have the right to do so after the disciplinary proceedings are completed.
Clause 20 and 21
To change the single-person appeal authority appointed by the Chairperson of CASH to consider an appeal from the complainant in case the complaint is not established by the IP to a Review Committee with two persons or more to review the case.
To specify that if a complaint is not established in the first instance but subsequently established by the Review Committee, the alleged harasser will be given the opportunity to make representation on the outcome of the review before the Chairperson of CASH concludes the case. In the event that the complaint is established, both the appellant (victim-complainant) and the alleged harasser should be informed as to whether the complaint is established, and whether consideration will be given to instituting disciplinary action against the alleged harasser and the penalties recommended (as the case may be).
To specify that to prevent the duplication of investigation resources, the disciplinary authority/Chairperson of CASH shall be entitled to and have the discretion to accept all or part of the findings and/or recommendations of another committee of the University.
To clarify what evidence will show that a complaint has been made in bad faith which may lead to disciplinary action.
A full set of the revised ‘Sexual Harassment Policy and Procedures’ is set out in Attachment I.
C. ‘Regulations Governing Staff Discipline’
To add appropriate footnotes to the relevant Clauses 8, 26.4, 28.3 and 28.6 in the ‘Regulations Governing Staff Discipline’ in handling substantiated complaints of sexual harassment. If the complainant is a victim of wrongdoing committed by the alleged harassers, both the alleged harasser and the victim-complainant should be informed of the outcome of a complaint/appeal, the disciplinary action and the penalties recommended or imposed against the alleged harasser, if any.
The added footnotes presented in Attachment II are incorporated in the ‘Regulations Governing Staff Discipline’ (Administrative Note No. G5.4/02/NOV14).
If you have any enquiries on the above, please contact our colleagues serving your Department.
Ms. Helen Leung
Director of Human Resources
1 December 2015