Acceptable Behaviour Policy
I’m pleased to say that almost all correspondence from my constituents is polite, fair and agreeable. My team and I value the importance of effective and empathetic communication to help people who approach us for assistance and enable us to carry out our work efficiently.
I expect my employees and people who engage with us to behave in an acceptable way. To do this, my team and I will:
- provide a fair, open, proportionate and accessible service
- listen and understand treat everyone who contacts us with respect, empathy and dignity
In return, we expect everyone who contacts us to:
- treat us with respect and courtesy
- engage with us in a way that does not hinder our ability to carry out our work effectively and efficiently for the benefit of everyone who interacts with us.
Behaviour that is unacceptable
I recognise that some people who contact me and my team may be in a situation where they feel aggrieved, upset or distressed. However, it is not acceptable when anger is directed towards me or my employees.
In a small number of cases, a person’s behaviour while engaging with us may become unacceptable because it involves abuse of my employees or our service.
Going forward, my office now has a zero-tolerance approach to abusive, rude, aggressive, or offensive communications – I am steadfast in my duty of care to my staff. If necessary, any such correspondence will be forwarded to the police.
I will also not tolerate behaviours or actions that result in unacceptable or excessive demands on my staff which prevents them from carrying out their duties effectively.
Examples of what we consider to be unacceptable behaviour include:
- Aggressive, abusive or offensive behaviour
- Physical behaviour, language, images (whether face-to-face, via telephone or written in emails, letters or online) that may cause my employees to feel intimidated, uncomfortable, degraded, threatened or abused is not acceptable.
Unacceptable levels of contact
We may consider communication unacceptable in nature or because of the scale of service expected. For example:
- continually contacting us in the process of looking at the issue or complaint
- numerous calls or emails in one day or excessive contact over a short period of time
- repeatedly sharing information that has already been shared
- continually reframing the issue or complaint in such a way that it makes it difficult for us to do our job effectively.
An example of such impact would be that the demand takes up an excessive amount of staff time and in doing so disadvantages other constituents and prevents their own complaint from being dealt with quickly.
We may consider demands about the nature or scale of our service to be unacceptable. For example:
- requesting responses in unreasonable timescales
- making repeated approaches about the same issue without raising new information
- vexatious requests for information
- repeatedly changing the substance of a complaint
- raising unrelated concerns or refusing to accept a decision where explanations for the decision have been given.
My staff have the right to carry out their duties free from harassment or threats of harassment. I ask everyone to respect that my staff are delivering a service on my behalf and therefore this may not reflect their own views or preferences.
Examples of behaviours I consider to be harassment against my office include:
- recording telephone discussions and publishing the information online such as through YouTube, Vimeo or Twitter;
- contacting staff using their personal details or social media presence such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn;
- publishing personal, sensitive or private information about staff online or other public domains such as noticeboards or newsletters.
Refusal to co-operate
When looking at a complaint, my office will need to ask the individual who has contacted us to work with us. This can include agreeing with us:
- the complaint we will look at,
- to provide us with further information, evidence or comments on request, or
- help us by summarising their concerns.
Sometimes, an individual repeatedly refuses to co-operate and this makes it difficult for us to proceed. My office will always seek to assist someone if they have a specific, genuine difficulty complying with a request.
However, it is unacceptable to bring a complaint to my office and then not respond to clear and appropriate requests by staff.
I understand that some constituents may find it difficult for them to express themselves or communicate clearly, especially when they are anxious or upset. In order to do this, we ask that they explain what adjustments they’re looking for and how this will ensure they can access the service my office offers.
My office will always consider making reasonable adjustments for a constituent when asked to do so. Examples of adjustments we can consider are:
- we could consider using different methods of communication;
- providing written communication in large print, coloured text, or in translation;
- giving clear warnings if conversations become unproductive and allowing constituents to opportunity to modify their behaviour before ending a call.
Actions I may take
When my office experiences behaviour or demands which are unacceptable, I may consider taking more formal action. The actions I will consider can include the following:
- Warning the constituent about their behaviour and requesting that the constituent modifies their behaviour in future contact with us.
- Appointing a specific point of contact for the constituent
- Communicating only in writing or via a representative
- Deciding not to investigate a complaint on the basis that it has been pursued in a way that is unacceptable.
- Stop all communication with a constituent
- Restricting or limiting contact
Where it is decided that formal action must be taken to manage someone’s behaviour I or my office, will inform them of the decision in writing. A note will be placed on our records to this effect.