Complaints: A Colleague

This page looks at the issues for people considering making a complaint against a colleague.

There may be occasions where you feel that an employer, employee or colleague is acting in a way which is unethical, illegal, immoral or grossly incompetent. Examples might include:

  • Lying to clients
  • Charging for work that has not been done
  • Failing to ensure 24 hour cover
  • Misuse of medicines
  • False certification
  • Working while under the influence of drink or drugs
  • Insurance fraud
  • Physical mistreatment of patients.

This is of course highly serious and carries all the potential for destroying working relationships. It needs to be handled extremely sensitively.


It’s difficult…

Understandably, people are reluctant to make a complaint in these situations due to fears about:

  • misunderstanding the position
  • being over-sensitive
  • jeopardising their employment prospects
  • not wanting to ”snitch” on a colleague
  • breaking client or commercial confidentiality
  • ending up in trouble themselves


Have a quiet talk

If you feel that an employer, employee or colleague is behaving illegally or unethically your first course of action should be to discuss the matter with them calmly and in a non-accusatory manner. It may after all, be you who has misunderstood what you think you have seen. See managing conflict for some tips.


If you can’t talk to them, get advice from others

If you feel unable to have this conversation, or if the outcome has not satisfied you, it may help to talk to someone else about it:


If addiction and/or substance abuse is involved

If you feel that an employer, employee or colleague is abusing alcohol or drugs, again, your first course of action should be to discuss the matter with them. Alternatively, or if you are still concerned, you can contact Vetlife Helpline in complete confidence on 0303 040 2551 or register to send anonymous emails to the service.  Vetlife Helpline can help support you, as well as people in the veterinary community to combat problems including alcohol and drug abuse, and its support can often help people to avoid disciplinary action.

See also: Substance Misuse and Eating Difficulties



RCVS Guide to Professional Conduct for Veterinary Surgeons

RCVS Guide to Professional Conduct for Veterinary Nurses

Veterinary Defence Society

BVA Legal Helpline (BVA members only)

BVA members can access the BVA legal Helpline 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to speak to a team of specialist legal advisors about any professional or personal subject.

If you are member please log in to view the BVA legal Helpline number.

BVNA Legal Helpline

All BVNA members have access to a free legal Helpline, manned by legal professionals who will answer questions in relation to any subject, not just professional issues. If you are a BVNA member and you need to ring the legal Helpline, telephone the BVNA office on 01279 408644 or email [email protected], and they will put you in touch with the right person. You will need to have your BVNA membership number ready when using the legal Helpline.