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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 51243
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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A colleague (a tier 5 visa voluntary worker) witnessed a

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A colleague (a tier 5 visa voluntary worker) witnessed a fire at a care home but she had not been given any fire training and the manager was off site. She evacuated the residents and no one was injured. The manager was called by another voluntary worker and he returned. The manager then told my colleague not to tell anyone and he also tried to order out of the house when she wanted to discuss the matter with the fire brigade who also arrived.
She felt intimidated by this manager who has also asked her about her sex life on more than one occasion.
She has recently told me what has happened and has arranged to see a senior manager. The fire occurred a year ago and she is worried that she could now be accused of negligence by the senior manager for not speaking up earlier.

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and I will be assisting you with your question today.

How long has she worked there for?

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
Approximately 18 months but she went back to Brazil last July and returned with a new visa in September

SO when she says she will speak up, what will she report - that there were safety breaches by that manager?

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
but she didn't speak up earlier because she felt intimidated by her manager. She has since moved to a different house on the site and no longer works under the original manager, although he is still at the same place. She would also like to address the harassment issue but she feels that the other workers would not act as witnesses because they are afraid of the manager

If she is raising a health and safety breach or concern and it is done in the public interest (rather than for her own benefit) then it will likely amount to a protected disclosure (also known as whistleblowing). She would not have been legally obliged to report it as soon as possible, especially as there are genuine reasons as to why this was not done here (the harassment and intimidation).

If someone has made a protected disclosure, they should not be treated detrimentally because of it as that would amount to unlawful detrimental treatment and a claim can be made if it happens. This would apply should she be bullied, intimidated or dismissed because of it. Of course, it does not prevent the employer from doing it but if it happens a claim can be made for compensation in the employment tribunal.

I trust this has answered your query. Please take a second to leave a positive rating by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars above - this is an important part of our process and recognises the time I have spent assisting you. If you still need me to clarify anything else, please reply on here and I will assist as best as I can. Thank you

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
Thank you. I would like to clarify some other points please.
Is there a time limit to report harassment, is it a crime and should it be reported to the police?
Does my colleague need a witness or can she report harassment to the senior manager without a witness?
Does she need proof of everything that she wants to report?
Also the manager wants her to say what she wants from reporting everything - how should she answer that question?

The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 states that a person must not pursue a course of conduct, which amounts to harassment of another and which he or she knows or ought to know amounts to harassment. Although there is no definition of what harassment is, it would usually include alarming a person or causing them distress and must have occurred on at least two occasions.

How this matter is dealt with would depend on whether the victim wants to take it down the civil route or the criminal one, or even both.

If a civil claim is made in the courts, it must be initiated within 6 years of the alleged act(s) of harassment taking place. The court can make an order instructing the harasser to stop their behaviour. If they still do not stop harassing the victim it would become a criminal offence and they can be prosecuted in the criminal courts. It is also possible to seek financial compensation if financial or emotional losses have been suffered (e.g. causing severe anxiety or distress).

If the matter is reported to the police instead and they take it further and prosecute, the punishment for harassment can be imprisonment and/or a fine. A court may also impose a restraining order for the purpose of protecting the victim.

Before the courts or the police get involved it may be better to try and resolve this directly with the harasser. They should be warned that their actions are being treated as harassment under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 and that unless they stop what they are doing they will be reported to the police and legal action under harassment legislation taken against them. If that does not help, the matter can be taken further either by contacting the police and letting them deal with it as they see fit, or starting civil court action by making a claim for harassment.

A witness is not legally required, but it always helps if there is supporting evidence. Also proof id not needed and often cannot be obtained, for example if things have happened verbally, when only the two of them were present. A diary can therefore help greatly to act as some sort of evidence to jog their memory. Finally, she does not need to answer that final question - if she wants to she can say that it is her duty to report health and safety concerns and this is done to protect others from it potentially happening again. Does this clarify things for you?

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