Translating and Interpreting Service

Barking & Dagenham, Redbridge and Havering

Confidentiality Policy

Policy Statement

The Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) values confidentiality as a key principle when dealing with Interpreting, Translations and Advocacy.


TIS holds personal data about it’s staff, users, members and other stakeholders, therefore all TIS employees, trustees, and volunteers must adhere to strict client confidentiality, unless they feel the client is taking part in illegal activities or a danger to themselves or others.


In many cases information may not be designated as 'confidential' and colleagues may have to exercise discretion in whether specific information is confidential or not.


However, no information given to TIS will be shared with any other organisation or individual without a user’s expressed permission.


For the purpose of this policy, confidentiality relates to the transmission of personal, sensitive identifiable information about the individuals or organisations [confidential information] which comes into the possession of the organisation through its work.


This policy aims to provide guidance with regard to confidentiality but, if there is any doubt, part of the TIS policy is that personnel should seek advice from a line manager or from Trustees ; full training and guidance is given in the rolling out of this policy.

  1. Policy Commitment :
    1. Confidentiality involves ensuring that information intended for one purpose is not used for another, without the agreement of the person or organisation supplying that information.
    2. Information must not be divulged to another agency or person without the consent of the informant. The only exception is where there is clear evidence of misconduct, serious danger to the staff member or other persons in the community. Such information should then only be divulged after discussion with a senior member of staff.
    3. Any disclosure of such confidential information must remain limited to the strict needs of the situation at the time and the staff member should not assume carte blanche to reveal matters which are not relevant to that situation.
    4. Staff members are able to share information with their line manager in order to discuss issues and seek advice.
    5. Staff members should avoid exchanging personal information or comments (gossip) about individuals with whom they have a professional relationship.
    6. It is not appropriate to discuss a person’s sexuality (i.e. ‘outing’ a gay person) without their prior consent.
    7. Staff members should avoid talking about organisations or individuals in social settings.
    8. Interpreters must NOT exchange any personal details with their clients at any time.
    9. Where there is a legal duty of TIS to disclose information, the person to whom the confidentiality is owed will be informed that disclosure has or will be made by the management or trustees only.
    10. Interpreters are only to relay information to their Line Managers.
    11. Staff members will not disclose to anyone, other than their line manager, any information considered sensitive, personal, financial or private without the knowledge consent of the individual, or an officer, in the case of an organisation.
    12. There may be circumstance where staff members would want to discuss difficult situations with each other to gain a wider perspective on how to approach a problem. The organisation’s or individual’s consent must be sought before discussing the situation, unless staff members are convinced beyond doubt that organisation/individual would not object to this. Alternatively, a discussion may take place without names or identifying information remaining confidential.
    13. Where there is a legal duty on TIS to disclose information, the person to whom the confidentiality is owed will be informed that disclosure has or will be made.
    14. Staff members must ensure that personal papers or records relating to service users etc. are kept in a safe place over night. Reports should not be left in places where they may be seen by those not employed by TIS.
    15. Confidential interviews must not be held in places where they can be overheard. No-one should be asked to give personal information in, for example, a hall, or in a place such as a passage or stairs where it may be overheard by others.
  2. Access To Information :
    1. Information is confidential to TIS as an organisation and may be passed to colleagues, line managers or Trustees to ensure the best quality service for users, clients etc.
    2. Where information is sensitive, i.e. it involves disputes or legal issues, it will be confidential to the employee dealing with the case and their line manager. Such information should be clearly labelled ‘Confidential’ and should state the names of the staff members entitled to access the information and the name of the individual or group who may request access to the information.
    3. Colleagues will not withhold information from their line manager unless it is purely personal.
    4. Users, clients etc. may have sight of records held in their name or that of their Organisation. The request must be in writing to the Manager giving 14 days’ notice and be signed by the individual, or in the case of an organisation’s records, by the Chair.
    5. Employees may have sight of their personnel records by giving 5 days notice in writing to the Chair.
    6. When photocopying or working on confidential documents, colleagues must ensure they are not seen by people in passing. This also applies to information on computer screens.
  3. Storing Information :
    1. General non-confidential information about organisations should be kept in unlocked filing cabinets with open access to all staff members, Trustees, volunteers etc.
    2. Employees' personnel information will be kept in a lockable filing cabinet and will be accessible to the Chair and Office Coordinator.
    3. Files or filing cabinet drawers bearing confidential information should be labelled 'confidential'.
    4. In an emergency situation, the Chair may authorise access to files by other people.
  4. Duty To Disclose Information :
    1. There is a legal duty to disclose some information including:
      1. Child abuse which will be reported to the Children & Families Department (As outlined in the Child Protection Policy)
      2. Drug trafficking, money laundering, acts of terrorism or treason which will be disclosed to police.
      3. In addition staff members believing an illegal act has taken place or that a user, client etc. is at risk of harming themselves or others must report this to the manager who will report it to the appropriate authorities.
    2. Users, clients etc. should be informed of this disclosure.
  5. Disclosures :
    1. We will seek to fully comply with the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) code of practice regarding the correct, handling, use, storage, retention and disposal of DBS information.
    2. Disclosure information is always kept separately from an applicant’ personnel file in secure storage with access limited to those who are entitled to see it as part of their duties. It is a criminal offence to pass this information to anyone who is not entitled to receive it.
    3. Documents, when expired, will be destroyed by secure means.
    4. Photocopies will not be kept. However we may keep a record of the date of issue of a Disclosure, the name of the subject, the type of Disclosure requested, the position for which the Disclosure was requested, the unique reference number of the Disclosure and the details of the recruitment decision taken.
  6. Data Protection Act :
    1. Information about individuals, whether on computer or on paper, falls within the scope of the Data Protection Act and must comply with the data protection principles and TIS’s Data Protection Policy. These are that personal data must be:
      1. Obtained and processed fairly and lawfully.
      2. Held only for specified purposes.
      3. Adequate, relevant and not excessive.
      4. Accurate and up to date.
      5. Not kept longer than necessary.
      6. Processed in accordance with the Act
      7. Kept secure and protected.
  7. Breach Of Confidentiality :
    1. Employees who are dissatisfied with the conduct or actions of other colleagues at TIS should raise this with their line manager using the grievance procedure, if necessary, and not discuss their dissatisfaction outside TIS.
    2. Colleagues accessing unauthorised files or breaching confidentially may face disciplinary action. Ex-employees breaching confidentiality may face legal action.
  8. Whistle-blowing :
    1. Where a staff member has concerns regarding the activities of the organisation s/he has rights under to the Public Interest Disclosure Act1998, to 'blow the whistle' about the wrong doing. (See separate Whistle Blowing Policy).
  9. Ensuring effectiveness of the policy :
    1. All executive committee members, management, staff and volunteers will receive a copy of the confidentiality policy (as and when it is updated). Existing and new members of staff (including interpreters, translators and advocates) will be introduced to the confidentiality policy through inductions, training and regular briefing sessions.
    2. The policy will be reviewed and amended annually or as guided at the beginning of the document ; suggestions for amendments will be proposed to the Executive Committee (Board of Trustees)
  10. Non adherence :
    1. Breaches made by any member of staff, management or board of trustees will be dealt with the strictest grievance under the necessary disciplinary procedures.
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