Complaints procedure

1 Introduction

1.1 It is our policy to ensure that all members and those attending our events have access to a procedure to help deal with any complaints relating to their participation fairly and without unreasonable delay. We aim to investigate any formal complaint made, hold a meeting to discuss it with you, inform you in writing of the outcome, and give you a right of appeal if you are not satisfied.

1.2 Responsibility for this policy lies with the Vice-Chair.

1.3 If you have difficulty at any stage of the complaints procedure because of a disability, or because English is not your first language, you should discuss the situation with the Vice-Chair as soon as possible.

1.4 Written complaints will be placed on file along with a record of any decisions taken and any notes or other documents compiled during the grievance process. 

1.5 The procedure for investigating allegations of a breach of our Code of Conduct will normally commence with the informal procedure outlined at Clause 2 below; however, in exceptional cases if the individual feels that the informal process is not workable in their situation, the formal procedure may be used without exhausting the informal procedure. This would normally be done upon the advice of the Vice-Chair of BISA in full consultation with the individual concerned.

2 Informal procedure

2.1 A complainant who considers that he or she is a victim of a breach of BISA’s Codes of Conduct should, if practicable, seek to resolve the matter informally with the person against whom the allegation is made.

2.2 If an informal approach under clause 2.1 is unsuccessful or inappropriate, complainants should raise the matter with the Vice-Chair of the Association. The Vice-Chair should, within a reasonable time (and recognising that the Vice-Chair is a non-stipendiary post with other obligations):

2.2.1 Discuss with the complainant the complaint (this may be done by email, or by telephone, and a record should be kept);

2.2.2 Contact the person against whom the complaint has been made and outline the nature of the complaint and ascertain that person’s response;

2.2.3 If appropriate, arrange a joint meeting with the parties to discuss the case;

2.2.4 Make recommendations to the parties for resolving the matter (without necessarily attributing blame or responsibility) in a way that seeks to establish and promote a professional and respectful working relationship between the parties; and

2.2.5 Keep a brief written record on file in the BISA Office.

2.3 If the BISA Vice Chair is the person against whom the complaint is made, Clause 2.2 shall be interpreted as referring to the BISA President. The same applies to the formal procedure under clause 3.2.

3 Formal procedure

3.1 If the informal procedure fails to resolve the matter, or where because of the serious nature of the alleged behaviour the informal procedure is deemed to be inappropriate, the complainant may bring a formal complaint under this procedure.

3.2 A formal complaint should be made in writing to the Vice-Chair of BISA who will immediately send a copy of the complaint to the person(s) against whom the allegation is made.

3.3 A written complaint should include the following information:

  • The name of the person against whom the complaint is being made;
  • The nature of the conduct about which a complaint is made, including where possible dates and times;
  • The names of any people who may have witnessed the conduct complained of;
  • Any action that may already have been taken (either under Clause 1 above or otherwise) to resolve the matter.

4 Investigations

4.1  The Vice-Chair of BISA will initiate an investigation of the complaint.

4.2 An investigation shall be undertaken by a committee appointed by the Vice-Chair in consultation with the Executive Officers and Director.

4.3 The investigating committee may require the parties and any witnesses (whether or not identified by either party) to present evidence within a reasonable time of the request being made. All evidence will be given in writing (including email). Individuals may also be called to present an oral statement from their written statement. Those who provide evidence should be reminded at the outset that it will be used in order to resolve the matter.

4.4 The investigating committee will prepare a report which will review the evidence and:

4.4.1 recommend that on the basis of the evidence the complaint is dismissed; OR

4.4.2 make recommendations for informally resolving the matter (without necessarily attributing blame or responsibility) in a way that seeks to establish and promote a professional and respectful working relationship between the parties using any mediation services that may be available; OR

4.4.3 decide that there is a prima facie case to answer and recommend that the matter be dealt with by a formal resolution discussed at a BISA Executive Committee meeting. Notice of 21 days will be given to the subject complained about so they can attend and make their case.

4.5 The Executive has the following disciplinary powers:

  • to write a formal letter of censure;
  • to exclude individuals either temporarily or permanently from specific BISA organised or supported events or activities;
  • to suspend membership temporarily;
  • to suspend membership permanently.

4.6 We will write to you to inform you of the outcome of your complaint and any further action that we intend to take to resolve the complaint. We will also remind you of your right of appeal. Where appropriate we may hold a meeting to give you this information in person.

4.7 An appeal may be made against the outcome of the investigation, either by the complainant or by the person against whom a complaint has been made; any appeal should be made in writing to the BISA Chair (or, if the complaint is against the Chair, the BISA President).

5 General

5.1 A party or witness acting under any stage of this procedure who knowingly makes a statement that is untrue, malicious and frivolous or in bad faith, may be subject to the disciplinary powers of the Executive Committee set out at clause 3.8. The investigating committee should investigate any such action and make recommendations as part of its report.

5.2 At all stages of this procedure the complainant, person against whom the complaint has been made, or a witness, may be accompanied by a companion. The companion may be either a colleague (who does not have to be a member of BISA) or a trade union representative.

5.3 At the meeting, your companion may make representations and ask questions, but should not answer questions on your behalf. You may talk privately with them at any time during the meeting.

5.4 Acting as a companion is voluntary and your colleagues are under no obligation to do so. If they agree to do so they will be allowed reasonable time off from duties without loss of pay to act as a companion.

5.5 If your chosen companion is unavailable at the time a meeting is scheduled and will not be available for more than five working days afterwards, we may ask you to choose someone else.

5.6 All information gathered under this Procedure will be treated in confidence.

6 Change and review history

Implemented January 2011

Reviewed January 2020

Reviewed November 2022

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