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Anyone in management who can tell me if this is U?

(30 Posts)
FizzyCherry Sat 08-Jul-17 08:12:34

I have mentioned this already on another thread but could someone more qualified than me please advise.

I work in an industry with vulnerable people. If we have any suspicions about any of our charges, we are duty bound to report it in strictest confidence, or so I thought. It's then looked into and a case file created if necessary.
Yesterday, a colleague had cause to report an allegation about another colleague, that probably is quite likely untrue, but as we were working together we agreed between us better to be safe than sorry and we couldn't not report it. AFAIK it's the only such allegation made, person making allegation is very new to us, so there's very little opportunity for a past to have developed, if that makes sense?
Accused colleague has now been approached by management directly and told of the allegations, and by power of deduction, who has accused them.
From what's been said, it seems this person has seen the written report which is handed to management in confidence.
This person has angrily approached my colleague today about it - I was off today, but no doubt will get my turn on Monday.
I am absolutely gobsmacked by the way it's been dealt with but don't know what to do about it.
I was under the impression in this situation that more evidence might be gained or that a situation might be monitored further - it wasn't something that I thought required immediate action, just something that if, repeated, might be a problem.
From what we can gather, management have gone straight to the person within a couple of hours and said "Fizzy and her friend say you did this."
I think I am set with what I will say to the accused person if approached, that I am trained to report ANY concern, even if I doubt it's true, but what do I do about the situation with management?
Should it have been dealt with in this way?
There is a level of management above the manager in question but I don't feel confident in taking that route, plus to do so I would have to breach the original confidentiality.
It's affected my confidence in reporting other concerns in the future, although I know I must, but I'm worried about the repercussions.
AIBU to think this was inappropriate? I'm debating leaving a job I otherwise love because it's so important that we can trust our management with things like this and I don't think I can any more.
Or am I overreacting?

FizzyCherry Sat 08-Jul-17 08:13:49

Just to clarify, the original report wasn't accusatory, just facts relating to what was said.

FlibbertigibbetArmadillo Sat 08-Jul-17 08:20:03

I'm not sure you are overreacting but hopefully more posters with more knowledge will be along soon.
Do you work in and industry with a dedicated advice/whistle blowing help line? Could you call a union for advice? And give a detail free hypothetical situation to them to avoid breaching confidentiality?

Smarshian Sat 08-Jul-17 08:24:27

I think it depends on the level of importance of whatever you reported. If it was something that could potentially cost them their job then they need to be made aware of the accusation so that their side of the story can be heard. To be honest even if it was something more minor they need to be able to give their side of the story. If you have reported something (which is the correct thing to do as you have stated) then the management have a duty to investigate it and they cannot do that without speaking to the person accused. If the accusation is unfounded as you suspect then it is usually much quicker to identify that by speaking to the person accused. Also I think it would be unfair to snoop around trying to gather more information about someone without letting them know what was happening.
Imagine you had been accused of something you hadn't done and your boss asked around and spoke to a lot of colleagues about it before you, I imagine you would be pretty upset that they didn't trust you enough to speak to you about it.

LordEmsworth Sat 08-Jul-17 08:30:25

we are duty bound to report it in strictest confidence, or so I thought
Why did you think this? Is it written down somewhere e.g. in a company handbook or in policies? If so, then you can/should complain about the manager, and the policy/handbook will tell you how to do that.

If you just assumed, then I can see why you would, but just because it's common sense that it should be confidential, there's no requirement for it to be. I would actually be raising at a more senior level that duty to disclose should be a requirement, and confidentiality should be given, without necessarily giving this example; the reason being that some people will be put off disclosing otherwise.

I would suggest that your response to the colleague would be to point out that you have to raise any concerns so they can be investigated, and refuse to discuss any of the details with them.

TeaBelle Sat 08-Jul-17 08:33:22

As you have pointed out in your op, the accused has made the assption (correctly) about how has reported them. Unfortunately there will be only a small.number of people I assume will have had the opportunity to be concerned and see what you saw.

Bumdishcloths Sat 08-Jul-17 08:37:48

It sounds like you have reported possible abuse - which you are correct, you are duty bound to report, whether you believe it or not, however long you have been working with the colleagues concerned. Management is duty bound to investigate, and they cannot do this without making the person involved aware of the allegations made. If you work in a small team it doesn't take much to deduce who the reporter is. It's unfortunate that the colleague you reported has taken upon themselves to retaliate, and this should be discussed with management. If the person is innocent and has nothing to hide, then they should be more than happy to cooperate with a reasonable investigation into their behaviour.

So in short, YABU to expect the reported person to not be involved in discussions regarding allegations, however IWBU if management were not to address the person's subsequent backbiting.

FizzyCherry Sat 08-Jul-17 08:37:57

LordEmsworth we have specific training for this kind of thing, and have to sign policies to this effect. There is a policy handbook in the management office at work, but obviously to look at it I would need to essentially tell the manager in question that I am questioning her...it's on her desk!

thonlassie Sat 08-Jul-17 08:51:17

It is not a good situation to find yourself in without a doubt, however the person who is being accused of poor practice does need to be approached if this is a matter or Adult Protection. Unfortunately when you work within a small team you don't need to be Sherlock Holmes to work things out but the person who has been accused is very foolish in approaching you (or the person who has raised the concern)

Your company should have firm Adult Protection guidelines and policies which should be available to all staff which should make clear what should happen.

I think, if you are approached I would tell the person that you did what you did because you were following protocols and that you will not discuss it further - if the matter is raised again contact your line manager and have it documented in supervision.

Please do not let this put you off raising concerns - it isn't nice to be put in the situation but your vulnerable clients rely on you to safeguard them from harm whichever form that harm may take.

topcat2014 Sat 08-Jul-17 09:03:09

I am not in any of these 'sectors', but rather straightforward factory settings.

However, you cannot have a situation where one person can make allegations, but somehow the accused doesn't get to see them - but is never the less found guilty by inference.

If I found that I was 'accused' of something, you can be damn sure I would be insisting I found out what it was so that I could rebut it.

If accusations could be made, reputations damaged, with no right of defence imagine the power that could give to bullies etc in the workplace.

Confidentiality would cover, for example, not telling people un-connected with the case (such as cleaners, receptionists etc) - but cannot cover not actually telling the people involved.

Groupie123 Sat 08-Jul-17 09:21:51

In many big companies you are only given confidentiality when using whistleblowing procedures. But then we use our normal procedures properly - if someone thinks an allegation is untrue they'd be investigated informally via the manager first (not via a formal report) and it would be up to them to gather evidence before reporting them (and yes we have certain safeguarding policies too). The manager can dismiss allegations that are untrue but equally choose to escalate those that are true.

You dropped the ball here by going so formally in the first instance.

FizzyCherry Sat 08-Jul-17 09:29:39

Groupie I see what you are saying, but we have been given a procedure to follow, which was followed.
And our direct superior agreed we should report it.
Had we just tipped someone off, and it had been true, a whole investigation would have taken place, where it would have been highlighted that we hadn't followed procedure.
I don't think we were wrong to report it - the rules say we have to. My issue is with what happened next.

Evewasinnocent Sat 08-Jul-17 10:28:59

You have done nothing wrong! The 'accused' colleague appears to be unprofessional - do you belong to a union who can support?

Evewasinnocent Sat 08-Jul-17 10:33:24

Why is it wrong to comply with procedure? Particularly where vulnerable people ar concerned - do all the continuing scandals count for nothing?

LordEmsworth Sat 08-Jul-17 13:14:45

It's hardly unfair to look into an allegation before tipping off the person being investigated. There's a world of difference between running to them to say ooooh so-and-so's saying you've been naughty, and sitting on the info for a day or so while looking at the claim and deciding, besides anything, whether there's grounds to investigate. Yes they need to know but not straight away, and not so they can immediately go and berate the person who reported them - or destroy/replace evidence, at worst...

Sorry, there is one copy of your handbook and you have to ask to see it? That is shock. If you work there for a decade, are you meant to remember what you signed on your first day?! Sorry, I was referring to the bit about you assuming it's confidential - is that part of the policy? Do you have a HR department, as if your manager has breached policy it will be for HR to take up rather than you having to go to their manager... though that might not be any more appealing...

From what you've said, it sounds like your company has a policy because they have to have one, rather than because they have any interest in actually protecting your charges or, to be honest, you...

JustKeepDancing Sat 08-Jul-17 13:53:17

I work in, it sounds like, a similar area to you, in a management position.

You absolutely did the right thing by reporting, but given the nature of the report, I'm not sure why you'd think management wouldn't discuss it with the person involved? If your manager didn't make that clear, then I can see how you'd be frustrated. The follow up process should have been made clear to you. How else are they supposed to hear the other side of the story or explain why there is an investigation going on? As someone else has said, in a small team, it's sadly inevitable that anyone would be able to work out who said what, so to my mind, it's not necessarily management who are in the wrong with the way it's been handled, it's your "accused" colleague who is not dealing with the situation appropriately (probably due to how stressful it is). Keeping something confidential would mean that your manager wasn't allowed to say anything to any other colleagues (except other management, safeguarding officers, or HR), and they wouldn't be allowed to discuss explicitly who made the concern known. It's hard to say much more than that without knowing your company policy.

If this had occurred in my team, I'd be removing the "accused" from front line work while it was investigated, and instructing them not to discuss the matter with any colleagues at all. My current organisation would suspend on full pay. What happened next would depend on the findings of the investigation - either more training, supervision, or disciplinary action.

I'd suggest you speak to your manager to express your concerns that your identity as reporter has been worked out, and say that you'd like your manager to impress on the whole team, especially the people involved, that it is absolutely not to be discussed except with management/safeguarding officer. I'd also discuss with your manager your concerns about the process - express how stressful you've found this, and that as the training you did was so long ago, you would really like to have a copy of the paperwork or to discuss it together so you know you followed best practice.

I would urge you not to leave - to be honest, someone raising a concern about a colleague then leaving shortly after would be a red flag in a recruitment situation for me.

These kind of jobs are stressful at the best of times but you absolutely did the right thing raising it. I'm sorry you've not been well supported.

(Sorry this is so long, but I hope that helps).

Pengggwn Sat 08-Jul-17 13:55:52

So, if I am understanding this correctly, you have been told something (by a service user?) which you are legally obliged to report. You have reported it. Your managers have raised the issue with the person concerned. They have worked out (but not been told) who reported it.

Is that correct?

If so that sounds perfectly above board and unavoidable. I would just say, sorry, I have no idea of the facts but I was legally obliged to report it, then refuse to discuss it any further.

FizzyCherry Sat 08-Jul-17 14:09:23

Pengggwn yes, that's kind of it. But as Emsworth said, I thought there might be a bit more investigation first. The original accuser wasn't asked any more questions, for example. What we reported was taken as gospel.
It's not this, but if, say a person claimed another person hit them, but there was no evidence at all, other than the claim, would police automatically charge them with assault, or look into it some more?
This person is vulnerable, and we don't know them well enough to know if they are prone to making things up. But we can't ASSUME they are either.

limon Sat 08-Jul-17 14:15:21

What does company policy say about allegations and how they will be handled?

bridgetreilly Sat 08-Jul-17 14:16:26

YANBU. Talk to your manager about this and explain that you were following protocol and expected your report to remain confidential. Ask why that was not the case and explain that it makes it more difficult to do as you are supposed to, if you can't trust the next stage of the process to be handled appropriately. Look at the handbook together to establish expectations for the future.

Pengggwn Sat 08-Jul-17 14:17:41

Has the accused been charged with anything, disciplined? Or just a discussion?

alltouchedout Sat 08-Jul-17 14:22:42

In my workplace all safeguarding concerns come to me (unless I am the person alleged to have done something in which case it would go to the SMT). I would take action against anyone subject to an allegation who then went and told colleagues off for raising a concern. For one thing it would show that they didn't understand the duty we all have to always record and report.

Bumdishcloths Sat 08-Jul-17 14:25:30

@FizzyCherry if you're working in a care or supported living situation, even if the person has form for making things up, it has to be taken as gospel in the first instance due to safeguarding.

FizzyCherry Sat 08-Jul-17 14:27:33

Yes, you're right, @Bumdish..... I guess there's a reason I'm not in management!

FizzyCherry Sat 08-Jul-17 14:28:54

Pengggwn not AFAIK, just told the accusation has been made.

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