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to expect the HR manager to respect confidentiality?

(13 Posts)
angstybaby Thu 15-Jun-17 16:13:42

I raised a complaint on behalf of a colleague, explicitly stating that they did not want to be identified. the HR manager deliberately worked out who they were (searching back through records, emails, etc). i don't know much about HR but I assumed that respecting anonymity is fairly crucial. Is it misconduct?

elelfrance Thu 15-Jun-17 16:23:15

I'm a people manager, but not a HR manager, but in our training we are told that confidentiality cannot be guaranteed if breeches in policy/procedures or misconduct are raised - they have a responsibility to investigate & take action if warranted

elelfrance Thu 15-Jun-17 16:25:40

so for example, if someone spoke to HR about a person being bullied by a third party, the HR manager would have to try and find out who the victim is as well as the bully - and to ensure that their duty of care to the victim is carried out. this is as important as sanctioning the bully

AnnetteCurtains Thu 15-Jun-17 16:48:26

or are you talking about whistleblowing OP

angstybaby Thu 15-Jun-17 17:01:45

it was a complaint about HR supplying wrong information. it was actually really quite minor and i expected the HR manager to say 'sorry if we did; we won't in future'. but they didn't; they doubled down and identified someone who didn't want to be identified because they didn't want HR to negatively affect their career/promotions.

So, it isn't whistleblowing or bullying or anything that would require removal of anonymity. it just seems to me that the HR manager did it in order to try to cover their ass (not knowing that i've seen the evidence which is incontrovertible)

has the HR manager acted inappropriately or unprofessionally?

Allthebestnamesareused Thu 15-Jun-17 18:36:44

But they would need to know who the "victim" is surely if any action is to be taken. You made a complaint against them and they needed to check whether they were in the wrong. The only way they could do this was by working out who you were referring to and seeing what the actual position was.

Do you think they should have just said Angstybaby has told us we are in the wrong so it must be so. YABU.

topcat2014 Thu 15-Jun-17 18:53:42

I am afraid HR are broadly pointless in my experience. The less you have to do with them the better. They are there to prevent the company being sued - nothing more.

And 'confidential' don't make me laugh..

(based on my experience in 20 years of corporate life - I am sure there are better HR types here on MN - )

The only way to sort crap job problems is to change jobs. Sometimes that sucks if you are actually the 'victim' - but, do you know what - once you are in a new job you don't tend to dwell on it.

MinisterForSmallFountains Thu 15-Jun-17 19:00:51

I completely agree with topcat (also based on 20 years of corporate life).

I snort derisively towards HR. Gits.

CotswoldStrife Thu 15-Jun-17 19:06:05

By breaching anonymity, do you mean that they have contacted the person affected by the error?

Electrolens Thu 15-Jun-17 22:35:08

I'm a bit confused by this. Not a fan of HR in my company and a big believer in confidentiality...but how could they address it without knowing what happened to who?

yerbutnobut Fri 16-Jun-17 07:03:31

Totally agree with topcat, I got my fingers burnt earlier this year when I contacted the HR department of the company I was then working for to make a serious complaint about my manager, they were saying one thing to me and then contacting manager to inform what I'd said. The top priority for HR is to protect the company, Don't be lead under a false guise that they have your interests at heart.

Purplepicnic Fri 16-Jun-17 07:06:46

Never known a good HR department, they're all useless.

But I think she can't really address the complaint without knowing the person it affected. Unless it was a general one affecting more than one person.

angstybaby Fri 16-Jun-17 10:02:56

I should clarify: the complaint was that incorrect information was being given by HR. the solution is to send a memo to all staff in HR to remind them of the correct information. It wasn't that serious a complaint and had a quick, easy and painless remedy. There is no need to identify the person involved as they were not making an official complaint. it was more a case of improving practice.

secondly, when someone asks not to be identified, it is surely incumbent upon HR to respect their anonymity, even from HR. Had they responded 'we're sorry to hear about this but we can't do anything unless we know who the person is' I would have asked the person involved if they wanted to drop their anonymity. If they said no, then the issue is dropped. If they said yes, they it could be pursued. Anonymity, from an ethical perspective, may only be breached by the person whose anonymity it is - at least, that what's research ethics would tell you. HR appear to be operating on a completely different system.

My question really is: what code of ethics do HR comply with?

This all started in the first place because HR refused to concede that it might be possible that incorrect information was being given. Had they just said, 'we'll check and if it is, we'll make sure it doesn't happen again' it would have all been over.

and topcoat - you're right. unfortunately, everyone starts off thinking HR will help them and has to learn the hard way.

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