NHS Fife acknowledges and agrees with the importance of regular and timely review of policy/procedure statements and aims to review policies within the timescales set out.
New policies/procedures will be subject to a review date of no more than 1 year from the date of first issue.
Reviewed policies/procedures will have a review date set that is relevant to the content (advised by the author) but will be no longer than 3 years.
If a policy/procedure is past its review date then the content will remain extant until such time as the policy/procedure review is complete and the new version published, or there are national policy or legislative changes.
- Organisationalcontext 3
- Definition ofGender-basedViolence 3
- Principles&Values 3
- Supporting employees with experienceofabuse 5
- What managerscando 6
- Potential signsofabuse 7
- Vicarioustrauma 9
- Asking about abuse and respondingtodisclosure 10
- Workrelatedadjustments 10
- RiskAssessment 12
- DataProtection 13
- Notification of perpetrators,postconviction 14
- Good practice in workingwithperpetrators 14
- Assisting perpetrationofabuse 15
- Maliciousallegations 15
- Victimisation 16
- Promotion ofthepolicy 16
- Monitoringandreview 16
- Appendix1 18
- Appendix2 19
- Appendix3 24
- Appendix4 25
This policy applies to all employees and people working within NHS Fife. NHS Fife will also ensure that employers of sub-contracted and agency staff have policies and procedures in place which meet the standards outlined in this policy. Furthermore, where contractors are the perpetrators of abuse, they must be advised that their contract may be terminatedprematurely.
Gender-based violence refers to the continuum of emotional, psychological, economic, physical and sexual abuse, which is experienced disproportionately by women and children and perpetrated predominantly by men. It includes, but is not limited to domestic abuse, child sexual abuse, rape and sexual assault, sexual harassment, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, so-called ‘honour’ crimes, and commercial sexual exploitation through prostitution and pornography. Discrimination in relationto ethnicity, (dis)ability,sexual orientation, poverty, age, migrant or refugee status etc. can increase and intensify vulnerability toabuse.
The principles and values of this policy reflect those within NHSScotland PIN Policies, which value all employees and acknowledge that employees have a right to work in an environment that is safe, promotes equality, dignity at work and encourages individuals to treat each other with respect. The policy is underpinned by legislation as detailed at Appendix1.
To uphold the above principles, the organisation has an ethical and legal responsibilityto:
- Take reasonable steps to promote equality and reduce the risk of Gender-BasedViolence;
- Take action where incidents occur or allegations of abuse are raised;and
- Support individuals experiencing gender based violence by facilitating access to specialist services whereappropriate.
NHS Fife is committed to ensuring that all employees have equitable access to the provisions of this policy. Given this, the policy takes account of the barriers and differential needs of employees who may require additional support due to the impact of various forms of inequality, i.e. gender, race, disability, sexual orientation, age, socio-economic status, religion andbelief.
All disclosures of abuse experienced by employees should be treated confidentially, the key exception being situations where there is reason to believe that there may be a risk to others, including harm to children and adults at risk under the terms of Adult Support and Protection legislation. In these circumstances, local child/adult protection procedures and guidance should befollowed.
NHS Fife is committed to creating an environment in which employees are safe to disclose their experience of abuse in order to access support and increase safety for themselves and others. The right of employees not to disclose, however, must be respected and no-one should feel pressured into sharing this information if they do not wish to doso.
As is the case with other criminal convictions, employees (and prospective employees) would be required to disclose any unspent convictions related to abuse. Furthermore, depending on the nature of the role, prospective employees may also be required to disclose spent convictions as part of the application process. It is presently the case that a number of professional bodies, such as the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC) and Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) require registered professionals to disclose not only any convictions, but also any charges which are being brought against them. Membership of the Protection of Vulnerable Groups Scheme will be required for posts that fall within the scope of regulated work. Further guidance is provided later in the policy regarding the approach to be taken where disclosures of charges or convictions are made, either by prospective or existing employees. (See Section 13 and Appendix2).
Access to thepolicy
- An employee with a past or current experience of abuse should be aware that help is available. In the first instance, where possible, they should raise the matter with their line manager, HR or Staff Wellbeing & Safety. All of these key workers have a role to support employees in line with the provisions of thispolicy.
- Employees can self-refer to external support agencies including Staff Wellbeing & Safety and/or local and national support services such as Women's Aid, Rape Crisis, Men's Advice Line, Victim Support Scotland, trade unions/professional organisations etc. Information about support services available can be accessed via www.equalities.scot.nhs.uk.
4.Supporting employees with experience ofabuse
This policy covers historical, recent and ongoing abuse. It is important to recognise that some employees may have experience of more than one form of Gender-Based Violence.
Concerns that an employee is experiencing abuse may come to the attention of managers, HR staff or Staff Wellbeing & Safety as a resultof:
- Direct disclosure by theemployee;
- Disclosure in response to a direct enquiry by the manager:and
- Concerns raised with the manager about an employee by a colleague orcolleagues
Current abuse may be in the context of domestic abuse from a partner or ex-partner; it may involve ongoing physical and psychological abuse, threats, and/or stalking and harassment. In such instances, there may be an urgent need for a workplace risk assessment and safety planning to assess the potential risks to the employee, children, colleagues andothers.
Employees may have experienced abuse in the past e.g. sexual abuse in adulthood or childhood, which is currently interfering with their ability to cope, and they may need support to deal with this. It may also be that they are involved in legal proceedings around the abuse and need to have both practical and supportive line management during thisperiod.
5.What managers cando
Managers have a role to address the needs of employees who have experience of abuse. In responding to employees, they are expected to be available and approachable; to listen and reassure; respond in a sensitive and non-judgemental manner and discuss how the Board can supportthem.
In cases where an employee raises their experience of abuse, managers should endeavour to provide flexible support, tailored to meet the circumstances of each individual, taking account of any additional needs that they may have. Managers should be aware of the potential barriers that make it difficult for employees to seek support and should be conscious not to make judgements or to provide counselling or advice. See Appendix 4 for further information regarding the barriers to seekingsupport.
When responding to employees, managers should refer to the Board’s policies developed in line with national PIN policies and act in accordance with child/adult protection procedures and guidance, referring to Staff Wellbeing & Safety and Human Resources asappropriate.
Managers should be as supportive as possible, while ensuring that employees have a clear understanding of what is expected of them in relation to performance and attendance.
If an employee discloses experience of abuse during procedures in relation to performance, absenteeism, etc, this should be taken into account. If it is felt that the issue can be resolved by addressing the support/safety needs of the employee, then the process may be suspended. Managers should refer to the Board’s HR policies, developed in line with national policy, asappropriate.
As a manager, you can support employeesby:
- Being aware of the possibility that employees could be affected by past or currentabuse;
- Recognising potential signs ofabuse;
- Initiating discussion if you have concerns aboutabuse;
- Responding sensitively todisclosure;
- Helping your employee assess their level of risk and devise a safety plan in cases of domestic abuse or where the abuse actually occurs in theworkplace;
- Considering what workplace supports you could provide within the scope of current NHS policyprovisions;
- Providing information about other sources ofhelp;
- Keeping good records, documenting discussion and actions taken, ensuring that information is stored confidentially;and
- Being sensitive to the impact of social circumstances and inequalities on the individuals’ choices anddecisions.
6.Potential signs ofabuse
Given the barriers that can make it difficult for employees to disclose abuse, they may not necessarily approach you as their manager in the first instance. It is more likely that you will become aware of any problems through associated issues such as absence monitoring, poor performance or uncharacteristic changes in an employee'sbehaviour.
Some of the signs that an employee could be affected by their experience of abuse are outlined below. Keep in mind, however, that this is not an exhaustive list nor should these factors be seen in isolation. Also, they may be indicative of other concerns unrelated to abuse. The context within which they occur is therefore an importantconsideration.
- Persistently late without explanation; needing to leave workearly;
- Constraints on work schedule; employee may be dropped off and picked up from work and unable to attend work relatedevents;
- High absenteeism rate withoutexplanation;
- Needing regular time off for'appointments';
- Changes in quality of work performance for unexplained reasons, e.g. may start missing deadlines and show additional performance difficulties despite a previously strongrecord;
- Interruptions at work, e.g. repeated upsetting calls/texts/ e-mails; Reluctance to turn off mobile phone at work;and
- Increased hours being worked for no apparent reason, e.g. very early arrival at work or working late.
- Changes in behaviour: may become quiet and withdrawn, avoid interaction, making acquaintances or friends at work; may always eatalone;
- Uncharacteristic distraction, problems with concentration;
- May cry at work or be veryanxious;
- Obsession withtime;
- May exhibit fearful behaviour such as startled reactions;
- Fear of partner/references toanger;
- Is seldom or never able to attend social events with colleagues;
- Expresses fears about leaving children at home alone withpartner;
- Secretive regarding home life;and
- Appears to be isolated from friends andfamily.
- Repeated injuries such as bruises that are explained away;
- Explanations for injuries that are inconsistent with the injuriesdisplayed;
- Frequent and/or sudden or unexpected medical problems/sicknessabsences;
- Change in the way the employee dresses, e.g. excessive clothing in summer; unkempt or dishevelled appearance, change in the pattern or amount of make- upworn.
Many employees experience stress at work which sometimes can be related to the particular role they have in responding to the distress of others. For example, working with people who have experienced trauma such as childhood abuse or rape. In some cases, employees may feel overwhelmed by this and experience difficulties in coping, e.g. they can't 'switch-off' from work; they may have intense feelings of horror, shock or sadness or pictures that they can't get out of their mind. They may have nightmares or be hyper-vigilant. They may have strong feelings and reactions to what they've heard, or perhaps over-identify with the suffering ofpatients.
This is known as vicarious trauma, sometimes referred to as 'secondary trauma', 'burnout' or 'compassion fatigue' and can arise when practitioners over empathise and take on the pain and suffering of others. For some employees, the experience of supporting survivors of abuse may also trigger emotions relating to their own experience of abuse which they may find difficult.
It is important for managers to be aware of the possibility of vicarious trauma and support staff to address its effects. Evidence suggests that such trauma diminishes where employees work in a sensitive and supportive environment with goodsupervision.
8.Asking about abuse and responding todisclosure
Creating an environment where employees are aware of this policy and feel able to seek support is important in helping to meet the needs of employees experiencingabuse.
Although some people don’t ask about abuse because they are afraid of being intrusive or causing offence, there is evidence that most people experiencing domestic abuse and other forms of gender-based violence wish somebody had asked them aboutit.
Should you suspect that an employee may have experienced some form ofabuse:
- Provide a private space, reassure them about confidentiality and advise of the limits of this at the outset, i.e. risk to the safety of others, childprotection;
- In instances when you pick up on possible signs of abuse, proactively initiate a discussion with the employee. Ask non-threatening, open questions - for example: "How are things at home?" or "How are you feelinggenerally?";
- If there is obvious bruising/injuries, then ask direct questions: "I'm worried about you because....." or "I'm concerned about your safety.....";and
- Non-disclosure: you should be aware that an employee may choose not to share information about abuse during a first discussion. If this is the case, advise them of this policy and that you will be available to provide support in the future ifrequired.
Within the Board’s policies, developed in line with the current Supporting the Work-Life Balance Policy, there is scope for managers to consider a range of work-related adjustments. Forexample:
- Agree periods of extended absence in line with the Board’s Special Leave policies (such as time off to visit solicitors, to attend counselling or to attend courtetc.);
- Make every effort to maintain job security for employees attempting to flee an abusive situation and/or where possible give favourable consideration to any request for a change of workplace/work arrangements;
- Change work patterns or adjust workload for a temporary period to make it moremanageable;
- At times when the employee needs to be absent from work, mutually agree a safe, confidential method of communication and consider any safety implications that may arise when working fromhome;
- Review the security of information held such as temporary or new addresses, bank or healthcare details;
- With consent, advise colleagues of the situation on a need to know basis and agree the response should the perpetrator/alleged perpetrator contact theworkplace;
- Approve requests for an advance ofpay;
- Agree that an employee can use an assumed name at work;
- Provide a temporary mobilephone;
- Change telephone numbers, divert phone calls and e- mails;
- Alert reception and security staff where the alleged abuser is known to come to the workplace, ensure the employee does not work alone or in an isolatedarea;
- Implement particular security arrangements that may have to be put in place in and around the workplace to ensure the safety of the employee, colleagues or patients which could include accompanying the employee when moving between sites or getting to their car. Where there are serious concerns about an employee’s well-being/personal safety, contacting the Police may be necessary;and
- Record any threatening or violent incidents by the perpetrator in the workplace, including visits, abusive/persistent phone calls, e-mails and other forms of harassment which can be used by the police or the employee at a future date if they wish to seek a court order.
This list is not exhaustive and there may be other measures that managers can tailor to the individual circumstances of the employee.
Depending on their situation, some employees affected by abuse may refuse support or only take up partial support. This can be concerning, especially if the employee has begun to accept assistance and then decides to go back to an abusive situation or tries to minimise theirabuse.
Dealing with abuse is a process that takes time and it is important to be aware of the reasons that can make it difficult for employees to access support, i.e. they may have pressure from family or community to remain silent/stay in their relationship or financial pressures, especially if children areinvolved.
It is the choice of the employee whether to accept support and the Board cannot share what they have disclosed with anyone unless there are reasons to breakconfidentiality.
Respect their decision, reassure them that your primary concern is for their safety and remind them that support is available if they need it infuture.
Ascertaining risk involves taking account of the information provided by the employee. The level of risk is likely to vary depending on whether the abuse is past or current and on the behaviour of the alleged perpetrator, e.g. is there any immediate danger? Are there threats of harm to her/him/others? Is there sexual violence? What is the employee's assessment of the threat from the perpetrator? Are there child/adult protectionissues?
If you have reason to believe that the perpetrator presents a risk to other employees, then management should consider a range of interventions including regularly changing access codes to work areas, reinforcing the need for vigilance with employees,theprovisionofanadditionallevelofsecurity where security staff/contractors are engaged and even considering whether the situation necessitates contacting the police.
NHS Services and Safety planning: Speak to the employee about their immediate and future safety and assist them to think through their options. For example, agree a safety plan, discuss support networks, protection strategies and provide phone numbers for organisations that can help including the police, women's aid, men’s advice line, rapecrisis.
Provide a range of practical workplace safety measures such as the use of an assumed name at work, provision of a temporary mobile phone, mutual agreement of a safe, confidential method of communicationetc.
Discuss potential options for workplace support, taking cognisance of existing Board policy provisions, i.e. extended and/or flexible leave (paid or unpaid), change of work patterns, adjustment to workload,etc.
Provide information on supports within the NHS, i.e. Staff Wellbeing & Safety, HR, and the Occupational Health Counselling Service as well as local and national external support agencies.
Recording: It is good practice to keep detailed records if an employee discloses abuse. Any discussions and actions agreed should be documented to provide as full a picture as possible. Disclosure should be recorded as an allegation, not fact. Maintaining confidentiality is paramount. (See Appendix 3 entitled ManagerFile-note)
In accordance with local procedures and in line with the Data Protection Act 1998, records should be kept strictly confidential. It should be made clear that recording information on abuse will have no adverse impact on the employee's work record. You should document all absences in line with normal procedures, but if they relate to Gender- Based Violence then they can be marked as confidential 'for manager and employee accessonly'.
Any reason for breaching confidentiality should be detailed and the Board’s procedures on sharing information adhered to.
Employers have a legal duty to maintain a safe place of work. This requires monitoring and recording all incidents of violence or threatening behaviour in theworkplace.
This information can be used if the employee wishes to press charges or apply for an injunction. If the actions of an alleged perpetrator affect the health and safety of the employee, the Board could assist the employee to apply for aninterdict.
Good records may be used to assess risks to children/others and might also be used in criminal proceedings or if the employee wants to apply for a court order. As such, it is important that records are clear and accurate and should include dates, times, locations and details of anywitnesses.
12.Notification of perpetrators, postconviction
There is a list of professions, including NHS staff, whereby the police are required to notify the employer and any relevant professional body of a conviction. In the case of a conviction for a charge or associated charge relating to Gender Based Violence, it is possible that such a conviction could compromise the individual's ability to fulfil their duties and damage the relationship of trust and confidence between employer and employee. The Board would then consider the charges that had been proven against the employee and instigate disciplinary proceedings whereappropriate.
13.Good practice in working withperpetrators
Where it has been alleged or established that an employee has perpetrated abuse, it is important to engage with the alleged perpetrator in a positive, respectful way. This does not, however, mean excusing the abuse. Engagement will require sensitivity and an awareness of how your response and the perpetrator’s response might affect the safety and well being of those experiencing the abuse. Good practice principles to observe include thefollowing:
- Be aware that some perpetrators, even when they have sought help voluntarily, are unlikely to disclose the seriousness or extent of their abuse and may minimise it or blame it on other factors, e.g. alcohol or stress;
- Be clear that abuse is always unacceptable and that it may constitute criminalbehaviour;
- Be clear that abusive behaviour is achoice;
- Be respectful but do notcollude;
- Be aware that on some level, the perpetrator may be unhappy about theirbehaviour;
- Be positive; it is possible for perpetrators to change if they recognise they have a problem and take steps to change their behaviour;and
- Be clear that you might have to speak to other agencies if there are grounds to breachconfidentiality.
“Respect” is a serviceopen to men or women who are worried that their own behaviour towards a partner is abusive. It helps them to consider the effects of their behaviour and take the first steps to changing it. The Respect Phoneline is 0845 122 8609 and the website can be visited at:www.respectphoneline.org.uk.
Support could also be provided through referrals to occupational health, counselling or local perpetrator programmes within local criminal justiceservices.
14.Assisting perpetration ofabuse
Where staff members are found to be knowingly assisting colleagues to use work resources to harass and abuse others, this will be dealt with using the Board’s Disciplinary Policy andProcedure.
Where there is clear evidence that an employee has made a malicious allegation that another employee isperpetrating abuse, then this will be treated in line with the Board’s Disciplinary Policy and Procedure.
Employees should not suffer victimisation as a result of making allegations (or supporting others to do so) that another employee is perpetrating abuse. Where there is clear evidence that an employee has been victimised, then this will be treated in line with the Board’s Disciplinary Policy andProcedure.
17.Promotion of thepolicy
The policy is availableon the NHS Fife staff intranet:
The policy will be communicated to all Directors, Heads of Service and Senior managers.
The Policy will be promoted by senior staff in partnership with colleagues from trade unions/professionalorganisations.
Staff will be informed of the Policy via:
Staff Bulletin, Staff Briefings, Managers’ Team meetings. It will also be posted on Dispatches.
Training will be provided to Managers and other key staff to support implementation of the Policy.
The application of this policy will be monitored jointly by the Director of Workforce and the Area Partnership Forum to ensure equitable treatment of allemployees.
The Board is required by Law and under the European Union Employment regulations, to gather monitoring information relating to ethnicity, religion and faith, sexual orientation, age, disability and gender for all aspects of employee relations. Employees may be asked for information relating to the above in connection with thispolicy.
Employees do not have to give the monitoring information if they do not wish to. However, for some of the above diversity strands it is a legal requirement that employees are asked for it, and good practice to ask for monitoring information for all diversitystrands.
Any equalities monitoring information will be held separately and not used to inform any proceedings that occur in relation to thispolicy.
The operation of this Policy will be regularly reviewed by the Area Partnership Forum to ensure its continued effective operation and formally no later than 2017.
Legal framework/relevant legislation
The policy is underpinned by the following legislation (which is not an exhaustive list):
- Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974: Under this Act, employers have a duty to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety and welfare of employees atwork;
- The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999: The regulations require employers to assess the risk of violence to employees and make arrangements for their health andsafety;
- Equality Act 2010: This Act simplifies and harmonises existing equality legislation and extends protection to a wide range of groups to ensure that they are treated more fairly. Under the Act, people are not allowed to discriminate, harass or victimise another person on grounds relating to age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership, or pregnancy and maternity, referred to as 'protected characteristics';
- Protection from Abuse (Scotland) Act 2001: This Act is designed to afford greater protection to individuals who have left abusive relationships by allowing for a power of arrest to be attached to aninterdict;
- European Convention on Human Rights, Article 3: Affords an 'absolute' right not to be tortured, or inhumanely or degradingly treated orpunished;
- Protection from Harassment Act 1997: Criminalises, and creates a right to protection from, stalking and persistent bullying in the workplace. Employers may be vicariously liable for harassment under the Act;and
- Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009: Criminalises a range of sexual offences including rape and sexual assault against adults andchildren.
Responding to employees who may be perpetrators
It is acknowledged that a number of employees within NHSScotland will be perpetrators of abuse and that committing acts of Gender-Based Violence is a serious matterwhich:
- Contravenes equalities and human rightslegislation;
- Could constitute a criminal offence;and
- May breach corporate and professional codes of conduct.
As such, it is important for the organisation to make explicit the unacceptability of this behaviour and provide clear guidance for managers to enable them to respond effectively to allegations of such misconduct.
Disclosures and allegations ofabuse
Information about abuse may be brought to light in the following ways:
- An employee may directly disclose abuse (voluntarily or when asked bymanagers/colleagues);
- Managers might receive allegations of abuse from a range of sources. Forexample:
- An NHS employee who's partner or ex partner is also anemployee;
- Colleagues orpatients;
- MARACs (multi-agency risk assessment conferences) or localequivalent;
- Partners, ex-partners or others who are not NHS employees;
- Post conviction notification from the police;and
- Disclosure Scotland pre-employmentcheck.
- Allegations may relate to abuse perpetrated within or outside the workplace.
Allegations of abuse within theworkplace
Employees who are perpetrating abuse might use workplace resources such as transport, telephone, fax or e-mail to threaten, harass or abuse current/ex-partners or others. Their behaviour might also include, for example, stalking, physical assault, sexual violence or sexualharassment.
This conduct could be dangerous for those being abused and could bring the organisation into disrepute. In such circumstances, disciplinary proceedings should be considered and where appropriate, action may need to be taken to minimise the potential for employees to use their position or work resources to perpetrate abuse. This may include a change of duties or withdrawing access to certain computerprogrammes.
Allegations of abuse outside of theworkplace
Employees may be perpetrating various forms of Gender- Based Violence outside of the workplace. For example, domestic abuse, physical or sexual abuse of children, downloading child pornography, sexual violence, involvement in honour based violence, or stalking.
Given that such conduct could constitute a criminal offence, many of these examples would most likely involve criminal proceedings. However, whether or not criminal charges are involved, or there is a conviction, this behaviour may, in some cases, lead to disciplinary proceedings against an employee because of its employment implications. A clear process to assess the potential impact of the alleged abuse on the employee's role at work is detailed in paragraph 184.108.40.206.
Perpetrating these forms of abuse could also breach organisational and professional codes of conduct and potentially bring the NHS into disrepute, especially if an allegation of abuse was not acted upon and allowed to continue.
If no criminal conviction arises, the organisation must be in a position to establish a genuine belief from its own investigation that the employee has been guilty of an act, which has such an impact on the employment relationship that it damages the trust and confidence which an employer requires to invest in every employee.
What managers cando
When a disclosure or allegation of abuse is brought to the attention of a manager, this should be acted on. Managers should respond in the same way that they would address any other serious complaint against a staff member by following their Management of Employee Conduct Policy and/or Dignity At Work Policy.
Where the source of such allegations is anonymous, or where the allegation relates to abuse outwith the work environment, it may be that, as employers, organisations are not in a position to take action. However, advice should be sought from HR as the circumstances of each individual case will require to be considered in order to determine whether or not such a matter can and should be investigated by the employer.
The organisation will treat any allegation, disclosure or conviction of a Gender-Based Violence related offence on a case-by-case basis, with the aim of reducing risk and supporting change. Where possible, depending on the circumstances, managers should undertake a developmental or educational, rather than punitive approach.
In other instances it may be necessary to instigate disciplinary proceedings. Each case requires to be assessed to determine whether or not an investigation should be carried out.
An allegation of abuse will not automatically result in an investigation.
The information that managers gather through direct disclosures from employees or allegations, will form the basis for any decision about how best to respond to the employee and identify what kind of support or sanctions are required.
The manager should assess the potential impact of the alleged abuse on the employee's role at work to determine whether or not an investigation should be carried out.
When undertaking an assessment, the manager should take account of the following factors:
- The nature of the conduct and the nature of the employee'swork;
- The extent to which the employee's role involves contact with vulnerable individuals or groups, and assessment of any potential risk that this might pose to them or otheremployees;
- Whether or not the alleged actions of the employee could breach their corporate/professional code of conduct;and
- Whether or not the alleged actions of the employee could bring the organisation into disrepute and into conflict with its aims andvalues.
The manager should then weigh up the above factors to determine whether or not there are sufficient grounds to investigate.
- If sufficient grounds are established, then the manager will proceed to carry out an investigation using the Management of Employee ConductPolicy.
- Whilst an investigation process is ongoing, employees alleged to be perpetrators will receive support from Staff Wellbeing & Safety and HR;and
- In the event that an allegation does not result in an investigation or no formal disciplinary sanction is imposed, no record shall be kept in theemployee's personnel file. Notwithstanding this, it is important that organisations keep a note of the number of allegations made. This will provide monitoring data to evidence that the policy is being implemented and will also indicate the level of complaints/ allegations within each organisation and acrossNHSScotland.
Allegations of abuse - criminal proceedingspending
Given that acts of abuse could constitute a criminal offence which could lead to caution, arrest, prosecution and criminal conviction, it is important for managers and HR to take account of the potential impact of any legal action on an employee.
Where an employee has been charged with or convicted of an abuse-related criminal offence, disciplinary action will not be taken automatically. Each situation requires to be considered individually on the basis of whether the employee’s conduct warrants action because of its employment implications.
In some instances, the organisation may initiate its own internal investigation and decide whether there is sufficient information to move to disciplinary proceedings.
The organisation would only have to consider the allegation on a lower standard of proof than a criminal level of proof beyond reasonable doubt, so even if a criminal investigation were not pursued or if the employee were acquitted at trial, it could still be reasonable for the employer to take disciplinary action in respect of the allegations.
The standard of proof in a misconduct dismissal is that the employer has a genuine belief that the misconduct has occurred, has reasonable grounds for that genuine belief, and has conducted a reasonable investigation in order to reach thatbelief.
Gender Based Violence Manager File-note
Record of conversation: (include date of conversation & who was present)
Manager Next Steps:
Manager Name: Date:
Barriers to Seeking Support
Although widespread, Gender-Based Violence is often hidden, generally occurring in a private or domestic setting, away from the workplace. The vast majority of cases of abuse are not disclosed to public agencies (including the police) and of those which are, relatively few result in criminal conviction. Managers should be aware that the covert nature of abuse and the impact it has on individuals can act as barriers todisclosure.
People who have experienced abuse are often silenced by the perceived shame and stigma that surround it; they may feel they will be judged or blamed for the abuse and may therefore be reluctant to seek help within the workplace;
- Issues around trust and concerns about confidentiality, especially if children are involved or if the perpetrator is also an NHS employee, can make it difficult for individuals affected to come forward;and
- Staff may fear that seeking help could impact on how they will be treated by managers or colleagues, e.g. that they may be perceived as less competent or ineffective in their post and/or that it may prejudice careeradvancement.
It is equally important to be mindful of diversity within the workforce, and that employees may have other experiences of discrimination or inequality which could affect, or indeed compound, the impact of abuse. Forexample:
- Sex: Whilst Gender-Based Violence is predominantly experienced by women, it does impact on some men. Disclosing abuse can be difficult for men who may fear being seen as 'weak' or 'unmanly'. Male survivors of rape or childhood sexual abuse may also fear being regarded as potential abusers given the widespread acceptance of the myth of the 'cycle ofabuse':
- Gender Assignment: Significant numbers of transgender people experience gender based violence through either intimate partner or ex-partner abuse and wider transphobic abuse. Transgender people may experience significant barriers to disclosing due to stigma and socialstereotyping.
- Disability: Disabled people may be fearful that disclosure may compound any negative perceptions or stereotypes of disabled people within the workplace. If people require additional leave due to their disability they may be reluctant supportive of making workplace arrangements needed to ensure their safety andwellbeing.
- Sexual Orientation: People in lesbian, gay or bisexual relationships who have not disclosed their sexual orientation may be reluctant to discuss domestic abuse, thereby 'outing' themselves in an environment which they may fear to be unsupportive orhomophobic;
- Race: Black and minority ethnic (BME) staff may be concerned that they will be ostracised in their communities, or accused of bringing dishonour on their families if they disclose abuse. They may be fearful of feeding racist or stereotypical views within the workplace which may minimise or dismiss their experiences; Employers may be unaware that forms of domestic abuse can vary, e.g. forced marriage or so-called 'honour' based violence, which may be perpetrated by extended family members of both sexes as well as ahusband/partner.
- Religion and Belief: Signs that an employee is experiencing abuse may not be fully addressed through misconceptions by the manager or employer that abuse can be justified within some religious contexts. This may in turn lead survivors to feel isolated and unable to seek the support they need through the implementation of thispolicy.
- Age: There may be a perception within the workplace that gender based violence is an issue mainly affecting younger people. This may mean that the signs of abuse against an older worker may go unnoticed or unchallenged. Experience of gender based violence may be compounded by age discrimination in theworkplace.
- Social and Economic Status: People on low incomes are more likely to be in less powerful positions in the workplace and may be less likely to disclose or access support for fear of losing their jobs. They may also have sole responsibility for caring for children and reluctant to disclose abuse for fear they are regarded as a burden to employer