The CAA, as a safety regulator, exists to protect those who choose to fly, and those on the ground underneath aircraft which are flying. One of our core values in the CAA is ‘Respect for All’. That describes what we expect from each other within the CAA, and what stakeholders and consumers can expect when they deal with us. But I firmly believe ‘Respect for All’ should apply equally to our expectations of how people will deal with the CAA in return. It’s inevitable that our role as a regulator means that we will not always be popular, but I am very clear that disagreements do not justify unacceptable behaviour, as we do our very best to perform a vital public service role. As the Chair of the CAA, I am clear that all my colleagues have the right to feel safe in undertaking their roles. In recognition of this, we have created our Unacceptable Behaviour Policy.
The vast majority of interactions with my colleagues are exactly as we would expect, even at times when conversation becomes robust and challenges to the work we do are posed. But if the proverbial “line is crossed”, our policy exists to demonstrate how we will act, and that all my colleagues have the backing of myself, the CAA Board and our Executive Committee.
The existence of this policy underlines the value we place on our people, and their right to work in a safe environment.
Sir Stephen Hillier, Chair CAA, November 2020
About this Policy
Our role in ensuring the aviation industry meets the highest safety standards is challenging and can be divisive. Further, we may on occasion get things wrong. However, we do ask that users of our service are polite to our colleagues.
We do not consider behaviour as unacceptable just because someone is assertive or determined. We also understand that people who deal with us may be angry or upset – we will always do our best to help in line with our commitment to providing a high standard of service to everyone we deal with.
But we have a duty of care to our employees and a desire to provide a safe working environment. We will not tolerate abuse and will act to protect our people. This applies to everyone our colleagues encounter during the course of our work, including members of the public and those we regulate.
What does the CAA mean by unacceptable?
We appreciate that individuals may be frustrated - it is unacceptable if this frustration turns into behaviour that makes a colleague feel offended, afraid, threatened or abused. This may include:
- Offensive language
- Aggressive or threatening behaviour
- Racist, sexist or homophobic language
- Any form of unjust or prejudicial treatment
- Confronting staff about their competency
- Not accepting of the limitations and procedures in place
- Unsubstantiated allegations
We may respond when unacceptable behaviour occurs, though we will do so in a way that is the minimum required to solve the problem. If our colleagues experience unacceptable behaviour:
Our colleague will tell the individual(s) how their conduct is considered unacceptable and give them the chance to change their behaviour.
- If the individual(s) chooses to carry on acting in a way considered unacceptable, our colleague will advise them that the conversation will end if they do not change their behaviour.
- If the conversation is by phone and the caller still does not change their behaviour, our colleague can terminate the call having told the caller that that is what they are about to do.
- If the conversation is in person, our colleague will leave the area or if in CAA premises, ask the individual(s) to leave.
- If an individual(s) behaviour is thought to be extreme, for example if they make threats of violence or physical abuse, our colleague can either end a phone call or remove themselves from the situation as quickly as possible and without warning.
All incidents of unacceptable behaviour are recorded and may be referred to the police, if appropriate. For those we regulate, we reserve the right to inform their employer of any instances of unacceptable behaviour.
What does the CAA consider as unreasonable?
Dealing with most correspondents is usually straightforward but in a minority of instances, some people may choose to pursue their correspondence or complaint in an unreasonable way that may cause a disproportionate or unjustified level of disruption or distress.
Unreasonable behaviour may include the non-acceptance of explanations of what we can or cannot do, repeatedly arguing, or making unfounded accusations.
We are aware that holding someone’s behaviour as unreasonable could have consequences for that individual. Therefore, any action taken in response will be proportionate to the nature and frequency of the person’s contact with us. In the event of unreasonable behaviour, we will notify an individual about our concerns and what actions may be taken if that behaviour continued.
We have profiles on various Social Media sites, including Twitter and LinkedIn. We take defamatory behaviour towards the CAA or our people on these websites seriously. Content that we believe to be abusive or unsuitable is escalated for further action, which may include contacting the author, reporting it to the relevant social media company and/or taking legal action.