Was this a good reason to suspend me from work?

I work in social services as admin. One of the young people I know are on the system as I went to school with her but haven't had any sort of contact with her since years before we even left school.
Anyway, me and a friend were just walking past a pub a few weeks ago where this girl was having an argument with this man. I only heard her saying "I didn't mean it" to him when he punched her hard in the face. Me and my friend carried on walking for our safety plus we had a 1 year old with us so to get involved wouldn't be a great idea.
Then a week later, I saw her walking around town with the same man with a massive bruise around her left eye... she was following this man like she was on a lead... definitely an abusive relationship. As a caring person, I decided to search her up on system to find out who her keyworker was to inform the keyworker of the events occured around her own client. That was all I needed... I emailed the keyworker, she thanked me for telling her. Next day, I am suspended from work for 'breaching confidentiality'... was this reasonable?

Updates:
At end of day, if I hadn't had told her keyworker, that would have been really irresponsible of me. I understand there are guidelines but sometimes in those situations you have to break them. I was only trying to do what I would do for everyone else, keep them safe so I passed on the information to her keyworker, someone who could do more about it then me.

Okay I did something wrong, but I did it for all the rights reasons.

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Most Helpful Girl

  • unfortunately yes you did breach confidentiality and you are lucky you're only being suspended instead of fired and a ban from working in social services. you not only breached confidentiality but you abused your position in admin to find her key worker and search up her personal information on the system.

    i agree its shitty that trying to protect someone can get you in trouble but from the companies point of view you violated her rights to privacy as she didn't consent to you sharing information about her personal life and you could have made things a whole lot worse for her in terms of abuse now they have to look into it.

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What Guys Said 11

  • In your position, you can't be using inside information about people, no matter your motive. If it were allowed, people would always be trying to help their friends and this wouldn't be fair to other people.

    You are lucky you are only suspended... learn your lesson!

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  • if it is a legit "breach of client confidentiality" then yes its an appropriate punishment. you just opened up your company to a lawsuit.

    im only going off what I read.

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  • I work for the irish welfare - You had the best intentions but you did breach data confidentiality - They were legally right.

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  • How was this breaching confidentiality? She wasn't a case assigned to you. You witnessed this action on your own time, in public. The only thing you did that might fall under such guidelines would be looking up her caseworker on the system. Here, if she was a minor, you could be in trouble for NOT reporting it.

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  • huh... that's kinda shitty if u ask me... :|

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  • yeah its reasonable you're not supposed to do that. shouldve messaged the keyworker anon and from a different ip

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  • No, it wasn't reasonable at all. If they want to help, then any information on the case would be good.

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  • review your policies and guidelines.

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  • No but now you know she's a bitch

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    • To say that she told me I did the right thing and went and told managers that I went into a profile for 'out of work' reasons.

  • not reasonable... but people with more authority than you dont need to be reasonable

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  • okay i think we've all been through this before you do something good and you get in trouble you're job is stupid

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What Girls Said 5

  • It is a breach of confidentiality. Your heart was obviously in the right place and you wanted to do something to help. When they do the review, there should be some kind of review that you will be present at, I would just point blank tell them you didn't know what else to do to help her, other then letting her keyworker know what you had personally observed. It wasn't your intention to breach confidentiality. You felt if you approached her directly it would put not only her but also yourself in more danger from her abuser.

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    • Plus with the 1 year old, I would have been in trouble getting involved by putting the 1 year old in danger.

    • Very much, just be very direct and honest with them during the review. Yes you have and may get a further slap on the wrist. Hopefully they will grasp the seriousness of the situation and realize given the circumstances there wasn't much if anything else you could do.

      Calling the police would have been a waste of time, they don't respond to 'domestic disputes' which aren't in progress

      If you had approached her directly it is not only entirely possible but quite probable she would have ended up in the hospital later on as a result.

  • If its written in your work contract then yes. It was up to the woman to report what happened to her. Unfortunately, you reporting it was breaching her rights. Perhaps next time tell her keyworker that you saw her in a situation that didn't seem quite right and that she may want to reach out to her to see if she wants to talk about it. If she doesn't then that is her right.

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    • But how was I supposed to know who her keyworker was without seeing her clients profile. Besides I didn't actually 'go on' her profile, there will be a preview of basic information that the majority know.

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    • Right so I'm just supposed to allow someone to stay in a dangerous relationship where she might get herself killed or maimed just because 'she doesn't want to tell anyone'? I think the confidential nature of that went out the window since the assault happened in public.
      At end of day I did the right thing in telling her keyworker, just the keyworker decided to be a bitch instead.

    • You seem to want to do the right thing but those guidelines are in place for a reason. So yes if she wants to continue to be in an abusive relationship and not tell anyone, that is her right. If it gets her killed that is her right. If you want to continue in this field you will have to figure out if you can follow the rules. If you can't then this might not be the job for you.

  • She isn't your client so I fail to see how you have breached confidentiality you never had. There was no breach of confidentiality at all, what was supposed to be confidential? The woman was arguing in a public place. She has a case worker and you informed her of a violent incident. I can't see how suspension is applicable here.

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  • Yeah I agree it is appropriate punishment. Sorry

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  • As a social worker you have to abide by the confidentality Act , and you did. . If i were the girls relative i'd commend you for not turning a blind eye. You have a Duty of Care to each individual. You didn't give out personal information to any random person, it was to the girls " keyworker" so you informed the appropriate person , who is supposed to have her welfare as priority. If you truned a blind eye and your company discovered that you didn't report what you saw, then i'm sure you'd have been suspended for allowing the girl to remain in a dangerous environment. As far as i see you did absolutely nothing wrong.

    Maybe in hindsight it may have been best to report the incident to your supervisor/ manager so then they could do the search for her " keyworker" and report the incident.

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