Scope of the procedure
This Complaints procedure applies to complaints about the organisation from its service users including volunteers. It does not apply to complaints from the organisation’s staff , which are considered under the organisation’s grievance and problem-solving procedures.
Principles underlying the procedure
Complaints will be fully investigated and recorded, all parties kept informed and the procedure publicised. Any member of staff referred to will be given the chance to comment or answer criticisms. Complaints about staff may lead to action under the organisation’s disciplinary procedures.
The complainant may remain anonymous. If this is likely to limit the ability to follow up the complaint, the complainant will be told this and given assurances that any information s/he gives will only be used for the purpose it is given and not shared with anyone else except with his/her permission.
Support for complainants
Complainants will be offered information about how to get support from an independent source in putting their complaint e.g. … [think about relevant sources of advocacy support]. They will also have to chance to bring someone to support them to any meetings that are arranged regarding the complaint, as long as all people due to attend the meeting are informed of the name and position (if any) of the complainant’s supporter and have no objections.
The Complaints Procedure
The procedure will have the following stages:
1st stage – Informal Discussion
This will normally be between the complainant and [a member of staff / Management Committee member?]. It will attempt to establish that the complainant wants to make a complaint, what the complaint is and, if possible, to find a resolution to the complaint that all involved find acceptable. The first stage should take place as soon as possible and within no more than a week of the complainant raising the matter.
2nd stage – Formal Complaints
If not satisfied, the complainant can register a formal complaint either verbally or in writing. If the complaint is regarding a member of staff, it will be investigated using the disciplinary procedure. If the complaint relates to a Management Committee member, then the complaint will be investigated by a Management Committee member not involved in any aspect of the complaint. If this is not possible, then an independent investigation will be carried out (see 3rd Stage – Independent Investigation).
3rd Stage – Independent Investigation
If the complainant is not satisfied with the outcome of the formal investigation or if the complaint is regarding a Management Committee member and there are no other
Management Committee members available to carry out the investigation, an Independent adjudicator acceptable to both sides will be asked to investigate. Possible adjudicators would include …. A timetable for investigation would be agreed with the adjudicator. Findings would be reported in writing to the parties and the decision of the adjudicator would be considered as final. The adjudicator’s decision should include recommendations about outcomes from the complaint, which should be adhered to unless there are exceptional circumstances to take into consideration (see 4th Stage – Independent Panel).
4th Stage – Independent Panel
If the Management Committee or complainant believe that the actions recommended by the Independent Adjudicator are unfair, either side has the right to request that an Independent Panel be formed to discuss these suggestions. This panel should consist of three independent persons acceptable to all involved, who will discuss the complaint and make a final decision on what outcomes there should be. It should aim to have its first meeting within two weeks of being formed and should further aim to come to its decision within four weeks of its first meeting. Any delay in these proceedings should be communicated to all parties involved as soon as possible. The panel can call any person before them to discuss the Independent Adjudicator’s recommendations and its decision on the complainant’s outcomes is final.
All complaints will be recorded. The record will include the date of the complaint, the complainant’s name and address unless they wish to remain anonymous, the form of it (i.e. in writing or verbal), who received it, what the details of the complaint were, and what action was taken, by whom and on what timetable.
Staff line managers and the Chair of personnel panel will report annually to the Board on complaints during the year and policies and procedures will be reviewed if appropriate.