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Types of unacceptable actions

Unacceptable actions have been grouped under the following headings:

  • violence, abuse or harassment
  • unreasonable demands
  • unreasonable levels of contact

Social Security Scotland aims to manage these unacceptable actions with this policy. They'll take action on anything that is deemed unacceptable.

This policy cannot cover every example of an unacceptable action. It's important to remember that some unacceptable actions can be subjective. A person might also disclose a health issue or vulnerability that causes changes to their behaviour.

Violence, abuse or harassment

Someone might display behaviour that is out of character in times of trouble or distress. You might feel frustrated or angry about an issue with Social Security Scotland. But if this results in aggressive behaviour or language, this might be an unacceptable action.

Social Security Scotland does not tolerate violence, abuse or harassment aimed at staff or anybody else.

Physical violence and verbal abuse

Violence is defined as acts of aggression that cause or threaten physical harm to staff or other members of the public. It also includes any behaviour or language that might cause them to feel:

  • offended
  • harassed
  • afraid
  • threatened
  • bullied
  • abused

These acts of violence or verbal abuse can happen:

  • in person
  • over the telephone
  • in writing or on webchat
  • via social media, such as Facebook or Twitter

Examples of this include swearing or making threats to Social Security Scotland staff or other people. Social Security Scotland will not tolerate verbal or physical abuse or harassment of any kind.

Abusive language

Certain types of language are unacceptable. Abusive language includes anything that's:

  • meant to offend, scare or intimidate a Social Security Scotland staff member
  • racist
  • xenophobic
  • sexist
  • homophobic

Examples include name-calling, shouting or making threats towards staff or other people.

False accusations

Accusing Social Security Scotland or their staff of doing something wrong with no proof is an unacceptable action.

Abuse aimed at others

Abusive behaviour or statements are unacceptable. It does not need to address or name Social Security Scotland staff to be unacceptable.

Examples include abusive behaviour or statements:

  • made somewhere outside the Social Security Scotland workplace – for example, on social media
  • directed towards friends or family of a Social Security Scotland staff member

It also includes abusive behaviour or comments aimed at other organisations. This is because of the effect that listening to or reading these might have on Social Security Scotland staff.

Unreasonable demands

Demands become unacceptable when they stop Social Security Scotland staff from completing other work.

Examples of unreasonable demands include:

  • repeatedly demanding responses within an unreasonable period of time
  • repeatedly contacting Social Security Scotland about the same complaint
  • demanding to see or speak to a particular member of staff
  • refusing to accept that Social Security Scotland cannot provide a particular service or fix a particular issue
  • repeatedly changing bits of a complaint or raising unrelated concerns

These kinds of unreasonable demands can take up an unfair amount of a staff member's time. This could:

  • affect other people's applications or queries
  • cause a delay in the payment of benefits to other people

Unreasonable levels of contact

You should contact Social Security Scotland if you have an issue or a complaint. But, sometimes the number of times contact is made about the same issue can cause problems.

Examples of unreasonable levels of contact includes, but is not limited to:

  • demanding answers about an issue within an unreasonable timeframe
  • contacting Social Security Scotland repeatedly to ask the same questions
  • overwhelming staff with copies of information they have already provided
  • repeatedly calling Social Security Scotland demanding new information where there is none
  • making many complaints about how a complaint is being handled

These kinds of unreasonable levels of contact can take up an unfair amount of a staff member's time. This could:

  • affect other people's applications or queries
  • cause a delay in the payment of benefits to other people
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