Code of Conduct

Code of Conduct, Bullying and Whistleblowing Policy

Bristol Astronomical Society (“the Society”) seeks to provide an environment in all its undertakings that is safe and enjoyable for all.

This Policy applies to behaviours that occur:

  • in connection with Society activities, even if it occurs outside formal events;
  • during Society activities, for example, at an observing session or speaker night;
  • at Society social events and functions, for example, at a Christmas party; and
  • on social media platforms where members and volunteers interact.

This Policy applies to all members and volunteers.

The Society may unilaterally introduce, vary, remove or replace this Policy at any time.

Member and volunteer conduct

The Society expects members and volunteers:

  • Not to engage in harassment, bullying or violence;
  • Not to aid, abet or encourage others to engage in harassment, bullying or violence; To behave in a responsible and professional manner;
  • Treat others in the Society with courtesy and respect;
  • Listen and respond appropriately to the views and concerns of others; and
  • To be fair and honest in their dealings with others.


Bullying has a detrimental effect on the Society and its people. It can create an unsafe environment, result in a loss of members and volunteers and can cause the breakdown of teams and individual relationships. People who are bullied can become distressed, anxious, withdrawn and can lose self-esteem and self-confidence. Bullying is also, in some circumstances, against the law. For these reasons, bullying will not be tolerated by the Society.

The Society recognises that bullying may involve comments and behaviours that offend some people and not others. The Society accepts that individuals may react differently to certain comments and behaviour. That is why a minimum standard of behaviour is required of members and volunteers. This standard aims to be respectful of all members and volunteers.

The Society recognises that bullying can take place though a number of different methods of communication including face to face, email, text messaging and social media platforms. As such, this Policy applies to all methods of communication through which bullying can take place

What is bullying?

Bullying occurs when an individual, or a group of individuals, repeatedly behaves unreasonably towards a member, or a group of members, and the behaviour creates a risk to health and safety. It includes both physical and psychological abuse.

Bullying behaviours can take many different forms, from the obvious (direct) to the more subtle (indirect). The following are some examples of direct bullying:

  • Abusive, insulting or offensive language or comments; Violent, aggressive or intimidating conduct;
  • Belittling or humiliating comments; Victimisation; and
  • Practical jokes or initiation.

The following are some examples of indirect bullying:

  • Unjustified criticism or complaints;
  • Deliberately excluding someone from Society activities; Withholding information that is vital for effective interaction; Setting unreasonable tasks if in a controlling role;
  • Setting tasks that are unreasonably below or beyond a person’s skill level;
  • Denying access to information, supervision, consultation or resources to the detriment of the member or volunteer; Spreading misinformation or malicious rumours; and
  • Changing arrangements such as meeting dates to deliberately inconvenience a particular member or members.
  • Demonstrating a lack of respect for children and young persons including ignoring and belittling.

The above examples are not an exhaustive list of bullying behaviours. They are indicative of the type of behaviours that may constitute bullying and are therefore unacceptable to the Society. If you are unsure whether behaviour not provided on this list constitutes bullying you should contact the Committee in the first instance.

What is not bullying?

Reasonable management action taken by the Committee or members to direct and control the way activities are carried out is not considered to be bullying, if the action is taken in a reasonable and lawful way.

The following are some examples of reasonable management action:

  • Realistic and achievable goals, standards and deadlines;
  • Fair and appropriate requests of volunteers;
  • Transferring a volunteer to another area or role for operational reasons, for example during an observatory maintenance session;
  • Informing a member or volunteer about unreasonable behaviour in an objective and confidential way; and
  • Taking disciplinary action, including suspension or terminating membership where appropriate or justified in the circumstances.

Other unacceptable conduct

Single incidents of unreasonable behaviour (such as harassment, violence or threatening behaviour) can also present a risk to health and safety and will not be tolerated.

Harassment is considered to be any form of behaviour that is:

  • Unwanted;
  • Offends, humiliates or intimidates; or
  • Creates a hostile environment.

Where such conduct occurs towards a person due to a particular characteristic of that person (such as when based on sex, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, marital or civil partnership status, age, disability, religion or belief, ethnicity or race,) this may be unlawful under discrimination and equal opportunity law, even if it is limited to a single incident.

For example, sexual harassment is unlawful even where it is not repeated conduct.

The Society will also not tolerate any form of violence. Violence is considered to be any incident where a person is physically attacked or threatened in connection with Society activities, whether this is directed to a member, volunteer or visitor.
It includes (but is not limited to):

  • Any type of direct physical contact such as punching, pushing, tripping, spitting or blocking of someone’s way;
  • Any form of unwanted physical contact.

Committee role

The Committee has an important role to play in terms of fostering a culture that does not tolerate or encourage harassment, bullying or violence and should ensure that they do not engage in any conduct of this nature themselves.

The Committee should also ensure that members understand this Policy and consequences of non- compliance. When the Committee observe or are notified of harassment, bullying or violence occurring, they should take steps to prevent this conduct from continuing and warn the person or people involved of the consequences if the behaviour continues. Sanctions could include any of:

  • Suspension of membership
  • Termination of membership
  • Reporting to the relevant authorities and/or agencies if warranted

The Committee must also treat all grievances raised by members or volunteers seriously and agree a suitable resolution.

Are you experiencing bullying, harassment or being subject to violence?


Complaints of bullying, harassment and workplace violence will be taken seriously and will be handled by the Committee. Any complaint, in the first instance should be made in confidence to a member of the Committee.

If the complaint concerns a member of the Committee, then you may make the complaint in confidence to one of the Officers – namely the Secretary, Treasurer, Deputy Chair or Chair.

If the complaint concerns one or more of the Officers, or the whole Committee, then you may make your complaint in confidence to the Society President.

If you make a complaint of bullying, harassment or violence it will be taken seriously and will be dealt with sympathetically and in a confidential manner (except where the Committee deems it is necessary to disclose information in order to properly deal with the complaint).

You will not be victimised or treated unfairly for making a complaint.

If the claim is found to be substantiated, the Committee will decide and agree a suitable resolution with you.

Please note that any member or volunteer found to have fabricated a complaint may be subject to sanctions as detailed above.

Other Policies

Members are encouraged to read this policy in conjunction with the Safeguarding Policy Statement.

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