I recently came across Cathartic – an online platform where you can confidentially share any issues or problems you have in your personal or professional life safe in the knowledge that it is completely anonymous. I spoke with founder and owner Neil Chandler about what inspired him to create the site and his hopes for it going forward. I think its a great tool for HR managers and employers out there to enhance their employee wellbeing and engagement offering.
What inspired you to create Cathartic?
I want to help the people who slip through the cracks. With Social media we are all very public about our lives but all to often we avoid the issues that are hare to talk about, Cathartic is a place where anyone can say anything, with complete anonymity. So far we have posts covering just about every subject, Mental Health, Abuse, Addiction, etc.
Over the last last 17 years I have predominantly worked for FTSE100 companies as a Technical Solutions Architect.
I am now the founder of Cathartic.co a non profit social enterprise that encourages self expression for mental well-being. After seeing various friends struggle with addiction and mental health issues, I decided to do something to try and help improve mental health awareness and provide a platform of expression for those struggling alone.
Users can share their thoughts, fears or entire story in a safe place designed to help. Self expression has proven benefits for mental well-being and many people are unable to fully express how they really feel. Cathartic.co is changing this. No problem is off limits; stress, depression, mental health, relationships, work or even political oppression have all been discussed on Cathartic.
Cathartic.co was designed with anonymity as its core value. No personal details are stored, all IP addresses are masked and even cookies are destroyed as soon as the session is closed. It is this robust anonymity that is allowing people who were previously hesitant to discuss their problems, fearing identification or stigma, to feel confident enough to fully discuss any issues that are on their mind. The need for anonymity is taken very seriously and a Darknet portal is provided for those who wish to use another layer of anonymity, thus allowing technology previously used predominantly in illegal activities to be deployed in a positive and empowering way.
What does Cathartic do?
We let people tell their story in complete anonymity, once a story is shared we then scan and present a list of relevant people who can help.
How can a person access Cathartic?
A member of the public can just goto https://cathartic.co from there you can read or write stories. It’s designed to be as simple as possible, works on mobiles, tables, etc.
Within an orginisation we create a custom link, this goes to a private version of cathartic, it can be cases from anywhere but all posts are 100% private.
How would it benefit employers?
We offer a safe place for employees to talk about issues,
Why do you think employers might be interested in it?
We can increase employee engagement and give anonymous statistics of issues within their organisation, most importantly we protect the employees so they have a safe place to talk to HR and Compliance.
How easy would it be to integrate onto a companies intranet?
It takes us 10 minuites to get everything up and running, from there you just share the link with your employees.
How confidential is it?
100% from the ground up Cathartic has been build to be anonymous. In addition security is key, everything is encrypted with military grade encryption, we also give the customer control of the data, if they choose to purge a story it’s impossible to recover.
What are your plans for the site?
We just want to grow, we are working with a highstreet bank and a new product will be released shortly. In addition we are looking to partner with an organisation who can greatly increase the levels of support we can offer to the public.
Automatically Unfair Dismissal
There are certain reasons the law believes to be completely unfair to the employee regardless of what has happened in the course of their employment, essentially it is wholly illegal to dismiss someone for any of the reasons below and in this category it doesn’t matter how long an employee has worked for an employer.
Pregnancy – this covers everything to do with maternity, it is automatically unfair to dismiss a woman because she becomes pregnant. It’s not unheard of to mask a dismissal for pregnancy with some other reason for example poor performance, however this is never wise and tribunals are well versed and getting to the truth. Under section 4 of the Equality Act 2010 pregnancy is a “protected characteristic” meaning it is illegal to discriminate against a woman because she is pregnant, further pregnant woman have the right not to be dismissed because they are pregnant under section 99 of the Employment Rights Act 1996.
Enforcement of a statutory right – this means an employee should not be dismissed for trying to enforce a right afforded to them by law. If for example an employee was dismissed because he/she was disputing annual leave (which they are entitled to by law) then this would be automatically unfair. A list of statutory rights can be found on the Citizens Advice website.
Health and safety issues – An employee cannot be dismissed for raising a health and safety issue with the employer or taking action because of it. An example might be dismissing an employee for refusing to use faulty or dangerous equipment.
Whistle blowing – This area is not as clear as others however generally speaking in order for an automatically unfair dismissal to have taken place the information disclosed must be in the public interest. This means that the whistle blowing must be on something that is likely to affect other people e.g. the general public.
What is considered whistle blowing?
- A criminal offence being committed by the employer e.g. fraud
- A miscarriage of justice
- Illegal conduct or omissions by the company
- Damage to the environment of a risk of this happening
- A persons health and safety is in danger
Other Types of Unfair Dismissal
Misconduct – If an employer dismisses an employee for misconduct in their employment this can be particularly hard to challenge. The tribunal will apply a number of legal tests to a case to establish whether the employer fairly dismissed an employee for mis conduct, these are questions the tribunal will ask itself when coming to a decision:
- Did the employer have a genuine belief that the employee was guilty of misconduct?
- Was there reasonable grounds for the employer to believe the employee was guilty of misconduct?
- Did a full and proper investigation into the alleged misconduct take place?
- Was the dismissal a reasonable response to the misconduct?
Redundancy – Sometimes it is necessary to make people redundant in the workplace, however the tribunal will apply the following legal tests to establish whether making an employee redundant is fair:
- Was there a genuine need to make redundancies?
- Was the decision to select the employee is question fair?
- Was there a fair process of selection and consultation?
- Were reasonable efforts made to find the employee employment elsewhere in the organisation?
Long term sickness – Where an employee has been off sick for a considerable amount of time it may be fair for the employer to dismiss them, however this must be done in a fair and legal way. The tribunal will apply the following tests:
- Did the employer consult the employee before deciding to dismiss them?
- Was a proper investigation into the employee’s sickness/illness conducted?
- Is it likely the employee could have returned to work?
- Were other ways of getting the employee back to work explored?
This article does not cover all aspects of tribunals and employers should seek the appropriate advice if they are being taken to tribunal or believe it is likely they will be.
CrosseHR specialises in providing consultation to employers before, during and after a tribunal and can advise on all aspects of proceedings. For more information contact us on 0330 555 1139 or email email@example.com. You can also follow us on Twitter and connect to us on LinkedIn for regular HR insights.
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