Unacceptable behaviour policy

Managing unacceptable and unreasonable behaviour from our customers

We are committed to providing high-quality customer service to everyone. We aim to do so in a fair, accessible, and professional manner. However, it is important for our customers to know that we also expect to be treated well and that we will not tolerate unacceptable or unreasonable customer behaviour.


Unacceptable and unreasonable behaviour from customers has a negative impact on our staff. This can also have a knock-on impact on the service that we can provide to all our customers.

To minimise these negative impacts, we reserve the right to manage the contact we have with customers behave in a way that we find unacceptable or unreasonable. The aim of this policy is to help us respond to unacceptable and unreasonable customer behaviour consistently and fairly.

The policy:

  • lets staff and customers know what we consider to be unacceptable and unreasonable behaviour
  • sets out actions we can take to respond to such behaviour
  • specifies who can authorise the actions.

When making decisions about appropriate action, where customer behaviour is unacceptable or unreasonable, the interests and needs of the customer will be balanced against the effects that their behaviour is having on our staff, and the efficient use of resources. Where, in this instance, a customer has a particular communication need, we will also consider the individual needs of that customer before deciding the most appropriate way to respond.

What is unacceptable behaviour?

For the purposes of this policy, we define unacceptable behaviour as:

  • Behaviour or language (whether verbal or written) that causes staff to feel intimidated, offended, threatened, or abused, or where there is a deliberate
    intention to cause annoyance or be deceitful. This includes, for example, making unjustified complaints; rudeness and generous discourtesy towards our staff.

What is unreasonable behaviour?

For the purposes of this policy, we define unreasonable behaviour defined as:

  • Behaviour that we consider to be unreasonably demanding, or unreasonably persistent in its frequency, type and nature. For example, this would include but not be limited to making frequent, overlapping, unconnected or disproportionate demands whilst an issue is being considered; not accepting advice or guidance; being uncooperative or attempting to improperly use our formal procedures.
  • Behaviour that, over a series of incidents, is not respectful of our staff. For example, refusal to accept our decisions; repeatedly arguing or complaining about a decision that has been made.

What action we will take?

In most instances when we consider that a customer’s behaviour is unacceptable or unreasonable, we will explain why we think this is so and ask them to change their behaviour.

We will also let the customer know that if the behaviour continues, we will take action to restrict their contact with us or take other action to protect our staff. Where unacceptable customer behaviour is so extreme that it threatens the safety or welfare of our staff, we may immediately restrict contact with us.

Where we deem the behaviour to be illegal, we will report the matter to the police and/or consider taking legal action. In such cases, we may not give any prior warning of any action that we are about to take.

When deciding what action we will take, we will consider the circumstances of the customer to ensure that we are acting fairly and appropriately. Any action that we take will be evidence-based and proportionate. Any action taken to restrict customer contact with us would be authorised by a senior manager.

We may take any or all of the following steps:

Step 1 – Warning

In some instances, we will issue a warning. We will tell the customer why we consider their behaviour to be unacceptable or unreasonable and ask them to change their behaviour. We may also give the customer a warning that if their behaviour or actions continue, we may need to apply restrictions on their contact.

In cases of extreme behaviour, we may not issue a warning and would instead proceed immediately to restricting contact with us.

Step 2 – Restrictions

If any warning is ignored or if the behaviour is extreme in nature, we may take further action. Examples of actions we will consider are: arranging contact to take place with a specified member of staff, restricting contact to a particular form (e.g. via email only), frequency and/or length, and terminating all contact.

Other options may be considered in light of the customer’s behaviour and/or the circumstances. In cases where we decide to terminate all contact, future correspondence will be read and filed without any acknowledgement or further action, unless we consider that it contains new information.

Where contact is by telephone, we will inform the customer that we are not continuing with the call and terminate the call. Where the customer is part of an organisation that we have awarded or funded, we may require the organisation to provide a new contact to continue the relationship.

In cases where we decide to restrict access, we will usually write to tell the customer why we consider that their behaviour is unacceptable. We will give details of any earlier warning(s), what action we are taking, its planned duration, who has taken the decision, what the restriction means and when it may be reviewed. We will also inform the customer of their right to ask for a review of this decision if they disagree with it.

Details of the restriction will be logged onto our database, and all staff will be made aware of the restriction. New issues brought by customers who come under this policy will be treated on their merits. We will consider whether any restrictions previously applied are still appropriate.

Who is authorised to impose a contact restriction?

We would never take a decision to restrict contact lightly. In consideration of the significance of this decision, only senior staff can approve restrictions under this policy.

Appeals Process

If a customer disagrees with our decision to restrict contact, they should state why they disagree with the decision and provide full reasons as to why we should lift the restriction(s).

Details of where to send this will be communicated at the same time as the restriction is notified. A one-time appeals process will be followed, where a Fund colleague who did not request the restriction will review the submission, and our decision following this process will be final.