Policy on bullying and harassment

Wellcome considers bullying and harassment of any kind, in any context, to be unacceptable. We believe that all people working at Wellcome or involved in Wellcome-funded activities should be able to work in an environment where everyone is treated, and treats others, fairly and with respect.

This policy forms part of our grant conditions and should be considered alongside our policies on good research practice and research misconduct.

1. Bullying and harassment

Bullying is any offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour. It involves the misuse of power and can make the person being bullied feel vulnerable, upset, humiliated, undermined or threatened.

Harassment is any unwanted physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct that has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them. It may be persistent or a single incident.

2. What we expect from people involved in Wellcome funding

We expect all participants involved in Wellcome funding to treat each other with dignity and respect. Participants include:

3. What we expect from the organisations we fund

When an organisation submits a grant application to us, they must confirm that the lead applicant (and sponsor and supervisor if relevant), has not had an allegation of bullying or harassment upheld against them for which there is either a current formal disciplinary warning or an active sanction.

If they have, we may reject the application.

It is the organisation’s responsibility to:

1. Have a policy in place that clearly sets out:

The policy should be available to all staff and ideally published on the organisation’s intranet.

2. Make sure there is an equivalent policy in place at any sub-awardee organisation, if relevant.

3. Investigate allegations of bullying and harassment in an impartial, fair and timely manner, and take appropriate action.

4. Tell Wellcome’s Director of Grants, in confidence, about any allegations of bullying or harassment that are upheld. This should happen after the full internal process is complete, ie after an appeal, if one is made.

This applies to any employee at the organisation who is associated with:

The information you provide should only include:

The information you provide should not include any:

Any information you send to us will be:

4. Sanctions

If an organisation upholds a bullying or harassment allegation, we may apply our own sanctions. 

These will be independent of any set by the organisation. We may:

We may apply sanctions against a Wellcome-funded organisation if we find that it has failed to:

Sanctions may include:

5. How Wellcome handles allegations

If an allegation of bullying or harassment is made directly to a member of Wellcome staff rather than to the organisation, we will:

If an informant wants to remain anonymous, we will respect this unless we have a legal obligation to reveal their identity. We’ll tell the informant before we do this.

The organisation is then responsible for following its procedures for handling allegations.

We will reserve any judgement about an allegation until the investigation is complete. We will only provide information to our staff or external advisers on a need-to-know basis.

6. Wellcome's role in any investigation

Wellcome does not carry out its own investigations, but we may:

This may be done as part of Wellcome’s organisation audits.

7. More information

See also our policies on:

Clinical trials

Research involving human participants

Research involving people in low- and middle-income countries

Contact us

If you have any questions, contact Alyson Fox, Director of Grants