We aim to provide a high level of service to all those who depend on our services and with whom we interact. We will be open, inclusive and respectful in our dealing with our members, stakeholders and the public. At all times we will act with honesty and integrity.
We will also take any complaints made against us seriously, investigate them fully and take action in those cases where our performance is found to have fallen short of our standards.
- treat you fairly and with respect
- offer a professional, helpful and polite service
- deal with your letters, emails and phone calls promptly
- do our best to help you
- let you know how quickly we can take action
- provide easy-to-understand, useful information and keep you up to date about the services we provide
- deal with your feedback promptly
- make sure our staff have the skills they need to do their jobs properly and considerately
- measure our standards regularly
We aim to ensure that the services and information we provide are open and accessible, regardless of factors such as race and gender.
We will therefore provide:
- online information in hard copy on request
- information in alternative formats (such as Braille or audio tape) on request
- loop hearing systems in our public meeting areas
- access to signing and other interpretative services
- textphone facilities
- wheelchair accessibility to our office
View our office opening hours.
When contacting us by telephone during office hours, we will:
- be professional, helpful and polite
- give you our name when we answer
- treat you, and the information you provide us with, with respect
- provide someone to help with your enquiry if the person you want to speak to is not available or arrange for someone to ring you back
- return your phone calls on the same day you asked us to or, if this is not possible, within one working day
When responding to letters or emails, we will:
- take your enquiry seriously and try to respond with the appropriate information as quickly as possible
- tell you who is dealing with your enquiry
- aim to give you a full response within ten working days
- send an acknowledgment for all initial enquiries that we cannot respond to within ten working days with information on the likely timescale for providing you with a full response
- use plain language that is easy to understand and which avoids the use of jargon
- properly explain any legal or technical terms used
- be professional and respectful in our use of language
We will always try to do our best to meet the needs of those who contact us in good faith. We have a duty of care to our staff and expect them to be treated politely and with respect by all those contacting us.
Sometimes we experience behaviour that is unacceptable. On these extremely rare occasions, we will use our unacceptable behaviour policy, which sets out the actions that we can take in such circumstances.
Through its Service Standards Policy, the Law Society of Scotland aims to provide an excellent level of service to those with whom we interact or communicate.
Similarly, we believe that all our employees have the right to be treated respectfully, and in a polite manner. Our staff also have a right to expect us to deal with any cases of unacceptable behaviour fully and fairly.
This policy sets out the approach which will be taken in circumstances where the behaviour of an individual is considered to be unacceptable. This policy applies to anyone who is interacting or communicating with the Society, including members, stakeholders and the public.
2. Policy Aims
The aim of this policy is to ensure the Society meets its duty of care towards its staff by ensuring there is a clear and effective mechanism in place for handling instances of unacceptable behaviour from those interacting with the Society.
3. Defining Unacceptable Behaviour
3.1 Individuals may act out of character in times of trouble or distress. We recognise that people may have a range of personal circumstances, including issues of health and disability, which may affect their behaviour. For example, there may have been upsetting or distressing circumstances leading up to a complaint. We do not view behaviour as unacceptable just because an individual is forceful or determined. However, the actions of any individual who is aggressive, unreasonably demanding or persistent can result in unreasonable demands on our team. It is these actions that we consider unacceptable and aim to manage under this policy. We have clear definitions for unacceptable behaviour and group these under the following headings:
3.2 Aggressive or Abusive Behaviour
a. Violence is not restricted to acts of aggression that may result in physical harm. It also includes behaviour or language, whether oral or written, that may cause staff to feel afraid, threatened or abused.
b. Examples of behaviours grouped under this heading include threats, physical violence, personal verbal abuse, derogatory remarks and rudeness. We also consider that inflammatory statements and unsubstantiated allegations can be considered as abusive behaviour. This policy would also apply to any abusive or aggressive behaviour made towards a member of staff’s family or friends in connection with their work at the Society.
c. Our staff recognise that individuals may sometimes act out of character at times of stress, anxiety or distress and should make reasonable allowances for this. All incidences of harassment or aggression will nevertheless be documented.
3.3 Unreasonable Demands
a. Individuals may make demands on our staff that are considered to be unreasonable, for example through the amount of information they seek, the nature and scale of service they expect or the number of approaches they make. What amounts to unreasonable demands will always depend on the circumstances surrounding the behaviour and the seriousness of the issues raised by the individual.
b. Examples of actions grouped under this heading include demanding responses within an unreasonable time-scale, insisting on seeing or speaking to a particular member of staff or representative of the Society, continual phone calls or letters, repeatedly changing the substance of the matter or raising unrelated concerns.
c. We consider these demands as unacceptable and unreasonable if they start to impact substantially on the work of the member of staff, such as taking up an excessive amount of time to the disadvantage of others.
3.4 Unreasonable Persistence
a. We recognise that in some cases, individuals will not accept that we are unable to assist them further or provide a level of service other than that already provided. Individuals may persist in disagreeing with the action or decision taken in relation to their concern or contact the office persistently about the same issue.
b. Examples of actions grouped under this heading include persistent refusal to accept a decision made in relation to a concern, persistent refusal to accept explanations relating to what we can or cannot do and continuing to pursue a matter without presenting any new information. The way in which these individuals approach us may be entirely reasonable, but it is their persistent behaviour in continuing to do so that is not.
c. We consider the actions of persistent individuals to be unacceptable when they take up what is considered to be a disproportionate amount of time and resources.
4. Managing Unacceptable Behaviour
4.1 There are relatively few instances where the behaviour of actions of an individual interacting with the Society will be considered to be unacceptable. In such circumstances, we aim to manage these actions dependent on their nature and extent.
4.2 If the behaviour or action is considered to be adversely affecting our ability to do our work and provide a service to others, we may need to restrict contact with that individual. We aim to do this in a way, wherever possible, that allows a matter to progress to completion, for example through our complaints process. We may advise an individual of a decision to restrict contact in person, by telephone, fax, letter or electronically or by any combination of these. We will try to maintain at least one point of contact.
4.3 In cases of extreme unacceptable behaviour, we will tell the individual in writing that their name has been placed on a list of people for whom the Society will not have any contact. This means the individual must restrict their contact with our office to either written communication or through a third party.
4.4 The threat or use of physical violence, verbal abuse or harassment towards our staff is likely to result in the ending of all direct contact with the individual. Incidents may also be reported to the police and will always be the case in cases where physical violence is used or threatened.
4.5 We reserve the right not to deal with any correspondence that is abusive to staff. In such circumstances, we will tell the individual that we consider their language offensive, unnecessary and unhelpful. We will ask them to stop using such language and state that we will not respond to their correspondence if they persist in using such language. We may require future contact to be directed through a third party.
4.6 Our staff have the right to end telephone calls if the caller language or tone is considered aggressive, abusive or offensive. The staff member taking the call has the right to make this decision and will inform the caller that the behaviour is unacceptable. They will end the call if the behaviour persists.
4.7 Where an individual repeatedly phones, visits the office, sends irrelevant documents, raises the same issues, makes allegations that lack substantive evidence or contain allegations that lack substantive evidence, we may decide to:
• only take telephone calls from the individual at set times and on set days
• put an arrangement in place for only one member of staff to deal with calls or correspondence from the individual in future.
• require the individual to make an appointment to see a named member of staff before visiting the office
• require the individual to contact the office in writing only
• return documents to an individual or, in extreme cases, advise them that further irrelevant documents will be destroyed
• take other action considered appropriate. We will, however, always tell the individual what action is to be taken and why.
4.8 Where an individual continues to persist in excessive correspondence, they will be told that only a certain number of issues will be considered in a given period and asked to limit or focus their requests accordingly.
4.9 In extreme situations where an individual’s behaviour is considered unreasonably persistent and where all internal review mechanisms have been exhausted, contact with the individual may be terminated. The individual will be informed that no future phone calls will be accepted or interviews granted concerning this matter. Any future contact by the individual on this issue must be in writing, which will be read and filed, but only acknowledged or responded to if the individual provides significant new information relating to the matter.
4.10 We recognise the need to make reasonable adjustments to our processes where disability may be affecting the behaviour of the individual. Such adjustments need to be balanced against the duty of care we owe to our staff.
5. Deciding to enact this policy
5.1 Staff that experience aggressive or abusive behaviour from an individual have the authority to deal immediately with that behaviour in an appropriate manner in line with this policy.
5.2 With the exception of such immediate decisions taken at the time of an incident, decisions to restrict contact with an individual will only ever be taken after careful consideration with a member of the Senior Management Team. Wherever possible, we will give an affected individual the opportunity to modify their behaviour or action before a final decision is taken. Affected individuals will be written to and informed as to a. why a decision has been made to restrict future contact b. the restricted contact arrangements and c. the length of time that these restrictions will be in place
5.3 Where disability is considered an issue, the member of the Senior Management Team will liaise with the Society’s diversity officer before taking a final decision.
6. Appealing a Decision to Restrict Contact
6.1 An individual who has had their contact with the Society restricted may, within a period of seven days from the decision having been taken, chose to appeal the decision. In such circumstances, the affected individual should confirm their wish to appeal in writing to the Registrar of the Society. The individual will be provided with information that explains how their appeal will be dealt with and the associated timescales.
6.2 In such circumstances, a member of the Senior Management Team not involved in the original decision will consider the appeal. That senior member of staff may choose to contact the appellant for further information but is not required to do so.
6.3 Once the senior member of staff has completed their investigation, they will provide a report to the chief executive whose decision will be final. The chief executive may choose to take the matter to a higher level, either with the Society’s Office Bearers, Board or Council but is not required to do so.
6.4 Once a final decision made by the Chief Executive has been taken, the affected individual will be contacted by the Chief Executive in writing to confirm that the restricted contact arrangements still apply or a different course of action has been agreed.
7. Recording and Reviewing a Decision to Restrict Contact
7.1 We record all incidents of unacceptable behaviour or actions. Where it is decided to restrict contact with an individual, an entry noting this is made in the relevant file and on appropriate computer records.
7.2 A decision to restrict contact may be reconsidered if the affected individual demonstrates a change of behaviour. A member of Senior Management Team will review the status of all individuals with whom contact has been restricted on a regular basis.
7.3 Any decisions to restrict contact with an individual in line with this policy will be reported on a quarterly basis to the Board of the Society.
8. Policy Availability and Review
Copies of this policy are available on request and free of charge from the Society. We will review this policy on a regular basis to make sure the aims are being achieved.
We are always looking to improve the way we do things. If you have any ideas on how we can do things better, we would like to hear from you.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.