What, if any, safeguarding processes do you have in your Company?
Whether you work in a school, care home, hospital, nursery, charity, or shop, you have a responsibility to help protect vulnerable individuals. This responsibility lies with both employers and employees. Employers need to ensure that all employees have the right training to carry out their safeguarding duties.
What is Safeguarding?
Safeguarding is a process and culture implemented into a workplace environment to ensure:
The safety of children, young or vulnerable adults who are, or have been exposed to, or caused all forms of harm, physical and mental abuse, or neglect.
This can be in the form of:
- Malpractice in the workplace
- Criminal convictions (Spent or unspent)
- Mental Health
- Drug, Alcohol and Solvent abuse
- Positions of Trust
- Professional Qualification Procedures
To safeguard in any work place you need to develop and embed positive habits, best practices, policies and procedures.
Safeguarding Practices is in addition to employment law regulations and best practices; However, these can sometimes override the employment legislation in tribunals.
So it is vital to get this right to keep both employees and customers/clients safe.
As part of knowing what safeguarding is, it is important that you know and understand when and how to report safeguarding concerns.
Many organisations that are part of professional bodies will have a specific or legal protocol to follow. For example, the NHS, Police Force, and Care Homes all have robust safeguarding protocol in place.
When working in any environment, not just the vulnerable organisations, it is important to know and understand how to recognise and report abuse or harm affecting people within your company.
Even if you do not interact with people directly in your company, you still need to think about safeguarding your employees and your responsibilities to do so.
Everyone in an organisations has a role to play in safeguarding, and it should form part of your day-to-day life.
Those companies who work in or with Charities or are involved in charitable activities have a duty to safeguard volunteers, workers, and those within the charities programs – this includes donors, participants, and sponsors.
Adult Safeguarding to Child Safeguarding Regulatory agents
Your safeguarding duties must be proportional to the level of risk involved. The time and effort you will need to spend on meeting that duty increases when you work with children or adults at risk. This can be decided by conducting risk assessments.
It is important to understand that both children and adults at risk need safeguarding, but that there are different approaches to take, and your risk assessments may also highlight unforeseen risks, such as:
- Visiting adults to a school or tourist attraction
- Visiting children to a care home or retail shop
(List not exhausted*)
Child Safeguarding in the UK
In England and Northern Ireland the Department of Education is responsible for child protection.
In Wales it is the Social Services and Wellbeing Act 2014 who is responsible and provides the legal framework.
In Scotland, the Scottish government are responsible for the child protection, along side the CPC (Child Protection Committee)
All schools, NHS providers, nurseries, and care homes will also have immediate points of contact that will need to be adhered to locally, so it is important in these industries to do your research and utilise these along with there resources to ensure your organisation is prepared and aware of their duty of care.
Adult Safeguarding in the UK
The Department of Health and Social Care are responsible.
Public Health Wales are responsible.
Important Changes to Disciplinary & Grievance process
In cases of high sensitivity that include safeguarding matters:
Sex offending cases, complaints of physical or mental harm to residents, clients, patients or children, complexity, political extremists or individuals suffering from psychotic episodes, risk of harm to themselves or others (List not exhausted*) it is vital at investigation stage once the initial investigation meeting has taken place the Safeguarding referral is completed and included in the referral, including any decisions to suspend. Risk assessments are then sent as part of a safeguarding referral before moving to or conducting the disciplinary and delivering an outcome.
- Safeguarding Teams will then conduct their own investigation into the matter, confirm suspension and then advise if and when to attend any safeguarding meetings to review the case.
- The Safeguarding team will also include the local authorises, such as the police, as and when required.
- In the event the police feel there is a case to conduct a criminal investigation they will take over and provide a conclusion to include in the employer investigation.
- Should the police feel the case warrants an arrest they will proceed with this action, and the investigation and disciplinary will remain on hold until concluded or Safeguarding provide an update to proceed to hearing.
- Once the Safeguarding Team and or Police have confirmed the investigation conclusion and the recommendation to proceed to a disciplinary hearing, it is important that the Disciplinary Hearing Officer attends the safeguarding conclusion meeting to review the potential allegations, outcome, history, evidence, and next steps before conducting the hearing.
Due Diligence, Policies & Procedures and Risk Assessment Consideration
- Understand the company/industry before you move into it or purchase.
- Research your safeguarding expectations, requirements, and regulations.
- Have a detailed understanding of your employee’s and their file history.
- Consider DBRs checks and Sarah’s Law reviews, industry or charity work depending.
- Ensure there is a fully structured and compliant recruitment process, and ongoing review procedure to regularly check your employees and or when supporting with rehabilitation of ex-offenders. (List not exhausted*)
- Review and conduct due diligence risk assessments, alongside the Health & Safety Risk assessments.
It is important to understand your industry and the risks around your industry and responsibilities that you have as an employer and or professional body,.
Your local Safeguarding authority, or regulators will offer templates, and in some cases training.
We also offer training on recognising and implementing safeguarding needs, and process here at Wurkplace.
Recent cases have highlighted here at Wurkplace the importance that our clients conduct full due diligence, and they conduct their risk assessments, and update theirs and employee’s knowledge on their responsibilities regularly to ensure it is up to date and actioned accordingly.
Many employees are reluctant to report any issues until after they have left the business to protect themselves.
An employer has a responsibility to provide training to employees on when and how these incidents should be reported. The more trained your staff are, the more confidence they will have in the systems in place.
The safeguarding teams can take action against those who fail to report incidents within a reasonable and safe timescale.
It is important that your staff are fully trained on conducting a referral and risk assessments are conducted before entering into potential high-risk recruitment industry, apprenticeship, or volunteer programmes to ensure their staff, clients, customers and new recruits, apprentices or volunteers are safe and protected in both the workplace and outside.
What Can Happen?
- Put the company brand and future at risk, there could be cases of emotional/ physical debate, or even bullying and harassment that could result in a claim for constructive dismissal and or discrimination.
- Professional Bodies, or members in a position of trust, could find themselves under investigation for negligence. This can be in the form of a criminal investigation/prosecution. In some cases, professionals will be removed from professional registers and company closures ordered by the governing bodies.
Here at Wurkplace we can support you through the understanding, implementation and training of Safeguarding policies. We can embed proper procedures, and handle complex Employee Relationship cases. For more information, contact us at: 0330 400 5490. Or, you can get in touch via our easy-to-use form.
With over 10 years HR generalist and management experience, Amanda has worked across a number of business sectors and understands the importance of a robust and practical HR processes.
She is passionate about sharing her experiences and coaching clients and their teams through the day to day successful people management, utilising her qualification as an experience Mental Health First Aider.