Responding to sensitive issues remotely

Guidance for managers on communicating with vulnerable staff who are working from home.

Never push to discuss any sensitive information virtually, when you do not know how private or safe a staff member’s circumstances are. People experiencing mental health problems or family violence may be unable to discuss these issues from their home.

If you think a staff member who is working from home might be experiencing family violence or relationship abuse or mental health issues, it is very important you manage this carefully.

  • Give them the opportunity to discuss with you if they are able, by asking general open questions about their wellbeing, how they are coping working from home, how can you support them and what they need from you (just as you would check-in with all staff).
  • Provide, among a variety of support information for all staff, information on where to get help in abusive situations or for mental health support; phone numbers/email/Facebook sites etc. See below.
  • Advise all staff (again, along with other general wellbeing support information) of the University’s access to a shielded site to access information on family violence privately. See below.
  • If you notice changes in behaviour or performance, gently raise those specific issues and ask when would be a good time, and by use of what communication method, to discuss them.
  • If you are very concerned about their situation, call Shine (family violence support) or your HR manager and discuss with them the best way forward.
  • If you are certain abuse is occurring, call 111.

Key contacts

Shine 0508 744 633 (9am-11pm daily), Shine Facebook page
Women's Refuge 0800 733 843 (0800 REFUGE)
Need to Talk? - Call or text 1737 (24/7) for counselling on any issue.
EAP 0800 327 669 any time
Healthline 0800 611 116

If you are experiencing abuse and are unable to use the phone at home, ask to use the phone to get help when you visit the supermarket, pharmacy etc. Also see Family violence information for non-specialist services.

Shielded websites

A shielded site is represented by an icon, such as the one sitting at the bottom of all University of Auckland web pages. (See icon below on this page, directly underneath "Provide feedback".)

This is a tool for victims of abuse to ask for help without fear of it showing up in their browser’s history. It also allows quick exit from the site back to the neutral site.

Shielded sites are also available on other benign sites, such as, The Warehouse page and TradeMe.