Confidential reports keep staff in check

University unveils new phone line for employees to report on work misconduct to promote accountability

Launched this week, the line will serve as an alternative means to prevent misconduct.
Launched this week, the line will serve as an alternative means to prevent misconduct.
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ConfidenceLine, launched this week, offers University staff a discreet method of reporting concerns about professional and financial misconduct.

The anonymous reporting service, run through a third party, will function as an addition to pre-existing reporting methods such as calling, emailing or meeting with the University’s safe disclosure officer within the Office of the Secretariat.

According to Harry Smith, Queen’s safe disclosure officer, the system is meant to complement these traditional avenues under the University’s Safe Disclosure Policy, which was adopted in early 2011. “It’s also helpful to allow people to understand that if they may have concerns, whether they’re founded or not, they may have concerns about bringing forward that information being identified with whatever the problem is as they perceive it,” he said.

The hotline will see that claims made by Queen’s community members, including faculty, staff, students and administration, are handled in a sensitive and appropriate manner.

“It’s just another avenue to get the information to the University and to engage [in] the Safe Disclosure Policy,” Smith said.

The external phone service operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week..

ConfidenceLine collects the information and prepares a report for the Safety Disclosure Officer, Smith said. The turnaround time for the University to receive the report takes a few days.

“ConfidenceLine provides that degree of separation from the University if they’re more comfortable bringing the issue forward that way,” Smith said.

Students and employees are still encouraged to use regular internal channels, such as supervisors, administrators and Human Resources, to report misconduct.

Students are given the option to remain anonymous but can disclose their identity.

“It’s not always the case that there will be confidentiality with respect to the identity of the person making the disclosure,” Smith said. “Sometimes they’re willing to say this is my name and this is the information I’m bringing forward.” The safety disclosure officer will continue to function and act as the initial point of contact, however.

“People are encouraged to come to this office if they have concerns,” he said. “It’s certainly possible to have a conversation face-to-face.” According to Smith, the University will be tracking service usage throughout the year, and will be assessing the effectiveness of the service as an alternative reporting mechanism. A review of the Safe Disclosure Policy is set to take place this year.

“There would certainly be some interest in whether the availability of this external third-party providing information is serving a purpose for which it was intended and whether we’re getting any thing more,” he said.

Smith said that the implementation of this service does not stem from any particular issues of misconduct.

“It’s one option that’s provided in other institutions and other organizations,” he said. “So Queen’s has seen it as best practice which it should adopt at this time.”

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