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Unacceptable customer conduct policy

The purpose of the unacceptable customer conduct policy is to set out clearly for customers and colleagues the behaviour and unreasonable demands which we find unacceptable and which, if unaddressed, negatively affect our ability to do our job or provide services to others. It also sets out how we will respond to colleagues who are abused. The policy will be accompanied by more detailed guidance and training for colleagues.

The safety of our customers and colleagues is always our main priority. Through the development of this policy, accompanied by guidance and training for colleagues, our aim is to protect our colleagues from customer abuse, unacceptable conduct and unacceptable behaviour, to demonstrate our commitment to developing a healthy and safe working environment and promote and support colleague wellbeing.

Our unacceptable customer conduct policy applies to all Magna customers and to members of their households. It also applies to any person interacting with our colleagues, customers and/or housing management function. It applies to behaviour and demands made at any time of the day, night or at weekends and regardless of whether or not the colleague is ‘at work’ at the time.

Our policy statement

We aim to have positive relationships with our customers and other people we come into contact with in the course of our work. The nature of our work means that sometimes our colleagues are subjected to behaviour from customers which is challenging. Our teams are trained to cope with these types of incidents.

However, there are also occasions where customers and people we work with behave in ways which mean that dealing with them and providing a service can be especially difficult, dangerous, or otherwise intolerable.

We recognise that customers may act out of character in times of trouble or distress. We do not view behaviour as unacceptable just because an individual is forceful or determined in their approach to us. However, the actions of customers who are angry, demanding or exceptionally persistent may result in unreasonable demands being placed on our time and resources or unacceptable behaviour being directed towards colleagues. It is these actions that we consider unacceptable and aim to manage under this policy.

We are committed to supporting colleagues who are subjected to unacceptable customer conduct. We encourage those who experience unacceptable customer conduct to talk with their line manager at the earliest available opportunity to help identify any support needs and/or follow up action.

What counts as unacceptable behaviour and unreasonable demands?

Unacceptable customer conduct means two things: unacceptable behaviour and unreasonable demands.

Unacceptable customer conduct may also be considered and/or managed in conjunction with our anti-social behaviour (ASB) policy.

As reflected in our ASB policy, anti-social behaviour means (as specified in the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014):

  • Conduct that has caused, or is likely to cause, harassment, alarm or distress to any person
  • Conduct capable of causing nuisance or annoyance to a person in relation to that person’s occupation of residential premises
  • Conduct capable of causing housing-related nuisance or annoyance to any person

We have a separate policy on hate incidents.

Unacceptable behaviour

This is aggressive or abusive behaviour towards our colleagues. By aggression we don’t just mean behaviour resulting in physical harm. Aggression also includes behaviour or language that may make our colleagues feel afraid, intimidated, threatened, or abused.

Some examples of what we consider to be aggressive behaviour are:

  • Threats of violence or harm
  • Bullying
  • Physical violence
  • Personal abuse
  • Shouting or abusive language
  • Sexualised behaviour
  • Misogynistic behaviour
  • Derogatory or discriminatory remarks (on the grounds of, but not limited to, ethnicity, colour, age, religion, political beliefs, disability, illness, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, socio-economic background, learning difficulty, appearance, or employment status)
  • Malicious, derogatory or otherwise inflammatory statements, or unsubstantiated allegations e.g. about our colleagues and/or other customers. This includes comments and/or communication on social media platforms

Unreasonable demands

What appears to be acceptable behaviour may become unacceptable if that behaviour negatively affects our ability to do our work. Behaviour may become unacceptable where demands are so persistent that they place an unreasonable burden on us and impact the level of service that can be offered to others. The type of behaviour that would fall under this category would include:

  • Excessive amounts of information requested or provided
  • Unreasonably high level of service expected above our agreed service standards
  • Excessive number of approaches made to us

Examples of what we consider to be unreasonable demands include:

  • Demanding a response within an unreasonable or unattainable timescale
  • Insisting on communicating with one employee and no-one else
  • An excessively high volume of contact
  • Repeatedly changing the substance of a complaint, or request for service, thereby preventing us from resolving the issue or issues
  • Unreasonably complaining to us about matters that are not Magna Housing Limited’s responsibility

How we deal with unacceptable behaviour and unreasonable demands

  • We will investigate and assess each case on its own merits and take into consideration the nature, severity and frequency of the behaviour and will use a reasonable and proportionate response when dealing with reports of unacceptable customer conduct towards our colleagues.
  • We will contact the customer responsible for the behaviour as part of our investigation and we will set out clearly the behaviour we found to be unacceptable, how we expect the customer to behave in future and the actions we will take if not.
  • We will also try to find out whether the customer has other issues that are contributing to their behaviour such as poor mental health, learning difficulties or drug or alcohol dependency. We will offer to refer them to an appropriate agency if they agree. The expectation that the customer’s unacceptable behaviour must stop does not change in this scenario.
  • When faced with persistent unreasonable demands, we may use ‘contact restrictions’ in order to manage the level or frequency of contact. This may also include appointing a single point of contact within Magna.
  • In some cases, we may seek to use an independent mediation service where appropriate in order to help find a solution where there is break-down in relations between Magna and a customer.
  • Where there is a risk to our colleagues or contractors identified, a warning flag may be applied to the relevant customer account.
  • We will only share information with people who need it. For example, if we temporarily alter the way we work with a customer, relevant colleagues and contractors will need to know about any new arrangements, but they do not need to know the reasons for them.
  • Where there are threats or violence, we may seek emergency legal action. This may include seeking an emergency ‘without notice’ Civil Injunction and/or possession proceedings.
  • In extreme cases, for example physical violence, threats or harassment or where we believe a criminal offence has been committed, we will report incidents and share information with the relevant Police force and/or partner agencies (under Section 115 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998).
  • We will keep customers informed of our decisions and the basis for those throughout.
  • Except when taking legal action against a customer or against their tenancy (actions which have their own defence and appeals processes and consequences), we will:
    • Offer customers the chance to appeal any decisions we make and will set out how to make an appeal in our communications with them.
    • Review any changes to the way we work with customers after an agreed period (of between 3 and 12 months depending on the nature of the behaviour).

Responsibilities

The Interim Director of Housing Services is the accountable person in relation to all aspects of anti-social behaviour at Magna and is responsible for the development and review of the unacceptable customer conduct policy, ensuring that this meets all regulatory requirements and guidance.

The ASB Lead is responsible for operational management of anti-social behaviour investigations and the operational implementation of this policy and for maintaining accurate related data as well as for reporting on incidents and actions in line with governance arrangements.

Governance, Performance Management and Review

This policy will be monitored and reviewed by the Interim Director of Housing Services annually and will form part of the annual review of health and safety activity. The policy will be considered and approved every 5 years in accordance with the policy review timetable.