Managing Unreasonable Behaviour



1. The majority of individuals who contact Butcher & Barlow communicate with us in a polite and courteous manner. This policy is aimed at how we manage the relatively few individuals whose actions we consider unreasonable.

2. When you contact Butcher & Barlow, we believe you should be listened to by our staff, should be understood and should be given an opportunity to explain your case or query. We believe that you should be treated with courtesy and respect by Butcher & Barlow and its staff.

3. Butcher & Barlow staff members have the same rights and we expect you to treat our staff with courtesy and respect.

Purpose of the policy

4. Our aims and objectives are

  • to define the behaviours that are not acceptable to Butcher & Barlow,
  • to ensure that the ability of staff to conduct business is not adversely affected by those few individuals who behave in an unreasonable manner,
  • to ensure our staff have a safe working environment and are not exposed to unnecessary stress, and o to empower Butcher & Barlow staff to deal confidently and effectively with unreasonable behaviour.

Who does this policy apply to?

5. This policy applies to clients, members of the public and any third parties.

6. If restrictions are imposed on a regulated individual, care will be taken to ensure that their ability to respond to us on regulatory matters is not impaired.

What behaviour is unreasonable?

7. We do not view assertive behaviour (for example, putting forward your case in a persuasive manner) as unreasonable.

8. However, we will manage behaviour that is aggressive or abusive, or which places unreasonable demands on our staff under this policy. Some examples of what we consider to be unreasonable behaviour are provided below.

Aggressive/abusive behaviour

9. Unreasonable behaviour is behaviour or language (whether verbal, i.e. face to face or by telephone, or written) that may cause staff to feel intimidated, threatened or abused.

10. Examples may include

  • threats,
  • verbal abuse,
  • racist and sexist language,
  • derogatory remarks,
  • offensive language,
  • rudeness,
  • making inflammatory statements, or
  • raising unsubstantiated allegations.

Unreasonable requests and communication

11. Requests may be considered unreasonable by the nature and scale of service expected. Examples include

  • requesting responses to unreasonable timescales,
  • insisting on speaking with certain members of staff, or
  • adopting a “capture-all” approach by contacting many staff members or third parties.

12. Communication may be considered unreasonable if, for example, individuals

  • continually contact us while we are in the process of looking at a matter,
  • make a number of approaches about the same matter without raising new issues,
  • refuse to accept a decision made where explanations for the decision have been given,
  • continue to pursue issues which have no substance,
  • continue to pursue issues which have already been determined, or
  • continue to raise unfounded or new issues arising from the same set of facts.

13. We recognise that our resources, including staff time, have to be used where they can be most effective. This might mean that we cannot respond to every issue in the way a person would like, if in doing so it would take up what Butcher & Barlow regards as being a disproportionate amount of time and resources.

14. We ask you to recognise that, due to the volume of work which we deal with, we may not be able to respond immediately to your requests. This does not mean that your concerns are any less important to us. If we have asked for your patience but you continue to pursue your concerns, we may consider such behaviour to be unreasonable.

How will we manage unreasonable behaviour?

15. All staff at Butcher & Barlow have the authority to manage unreasonable behaviour.

16. Butcher & Barlow has a zero-tolerance position on violence and threats against our staff and this behaviour will always be reported to the police.

17. In all other cases, Butcher & Barlow will only restrict communication with you if we have informed you that your behaviour is unreasonable and have asked you to modify your behaviour. We will explain what action will be taken if the warning is ignored and, if you do not modify your behaviour, we will take steps to restrict communications with you.

18. If we decide a restriction is appropriate, Butcher & Barlow will consider which of the options below best fits the circumstances. The level of restriction that we apply will be proportionate, taking into account the nature, extent and impact of your behaviour on our ability to do our work.

19. We will be transparent and explain to you what restriction we are putting in place, our reasons for doing so and how long the restriction will apply.

20. If Butcher & Barlow has already made a reasonable adjustment for you, this will be taken into account when deciding upon the appropriate course of action.

Options to restrict contact

21. If you continue to behave unreasonably after we have asked you to modify your behaviour, the options we will consider are:

  • Option 1: requiring you to contact a named staff member(s) only;
  • Option 2: restricting telephone calls/emails/attending an office to specified days and times, as agreed with you;
  • Option 3: terminating telephone calls if you are aggressive, abusive or offensive. We will politely ask you to modify your behaviour, but if the behaviour continues we will tell you again that your behaviour is unacceptable and end the call.
  • Option 4: we will not respond to correspondence which is abusive or offensive;
  • Option 5: refer your case to a senior member or staff, which may incur further costs due to seniority;
  • Option 6: removal from our premises if any member of staff considers your behaviour to be verbally abusive, threatening or harassment;
  • Option 7: physical violence, verbal abuse, threats or harassment against our staff will not be tolerated and will be reported to the police, who may decide to prosecute;
  • Option 8: terminate our contract with you and no further work will be carried out on your case;

22. Any one of the above options (or a combination of these) may be applied to an individual.

How will we manage the unreasonable behaviour of individuals with disabilities (including mental health issues)?

23. If you have a disability/mental health issue and may be subject to a restriction under this policy, we will consider whether:

  • your unreasonable behaviour relates to the disability/mental health issue, and if so, whether
  • the restriction being applied will affect you more than a person who does not have that particular disability/mental health issue.

24. For example, we will give careful consideration before imposing a restriction on telephone calls with a person who has a visual impairment, as they might find it difficult to write to us instead.