|December 12, 2012 03:06 PM
|Representative Kerry A. Benninghoff
|All House members
|Child Abuse Reporting (former HB 2219)
|In the very near future, I will be re-introducing HB 2219 from 2011-12 Session. The child abuse reporting requirements contained in the Domestic Relations Code, 23 Pa.C.S § 6311, make individuals in certain professions and occupations who come into contact with children responsible for reporting suspected child abuse. It further provides that a staff member of an institution must report suspected cases to the person in charge of the entity or his or her designee. That person then must report the matter to authorities using specified procedures outlined in existing law. An employee making the good faith report in this manner is thereafter protected from retaliation by the employer and may seek redress in the courts for any that occurs.
The current law is unclear however, whether an employee may file a report directly with authorities and still be protected from retaliation by their employer. This is problematic as often an employee may know that an agency head will not or has not followed up on a complaint of child abuse, but fears making a report directly to authorities because of the uncertainty whether he can be punished for doing so. This is particularly true if the agency’s personnel rules prohibit an employee from disclosing information about workplace matters outside of the chain of command.
My bill will establish that an employee who reports an incident of child abuse directly to authorities will receive the same protection as one who reports to his agency head. In order to assure that the complaint is made in a way that the reporting statute requires, my bill will provide that an employee making a decision to report directly must follow the same procedures that the person in charge of the agency would have been bound by in order to receive the protections.
Introduced as HB139