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Recognising unethical conduct and reporting

Recognising unethical conduct and reporting to an appropriate person

Unethical conduct is when you become aware of another person not adhering to professional ethics and therefore, behaving in a way that puts clients at risk.

Examples of unethical conduct could include situations such as:

  • a fellow worker is overheard gossiping about a client at the local pub
  • a fellow worker is openly intolerant of other cultures and says negative things about people belonging to different cultures
  • two workers argue with each other in front of clients.

A code of ethics helps us to identify unethical situations, and is therefore important to think about it regularly. It should never be a dead piece of paper stuck at the back of the filing cabinet or on the back of the staff toilet door.

Reporting unethical conduct

When you recognise another worker’s unethical act, your first option is to confront the worker yourself and discuss the issue. If that is not successful you may need to report the unethical conduct to someone in higher authority. You will certainly need to report the conduct if the rights of others, as outlined in the code of ethics, are not being respected.

When reporting unethical conduct, you need to be clear:

  • who was involved
  • when the incident(s) occurred and who else was present
  • the grounds on which you believe the conduct to be unethical, and
  • what other actions you have taken. For example if you have spoken to the person involved.

When considering reporting unethical conduct, you need to access your agency’s policy and procedures to know who to direct the report to.


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