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Staff Complaints Procedures

Purpose

Scope

Principles

Procedural statements

Procedural ownership and support

Definitions

Approval information

PDF version

References

1. Purpose

1.1 The Staff Complaints Procedures (the procedures) detail the complaints management process in support of the Staff Complaints Policy (the policy). The procedures must be read in conjunction with the policy.

2. Scope

2.1 The scope of the policy applies for these procedures.

3. Principles

3.1 The principles outlined in the policy apply for these procedures. In addition, the following procedural principles apply:

  • Staff should be supported in using the dispute resolution and complaint management process as an opportunity to improve collaboration.
  • UTS seeks to consider the wishes of the complainant when managing and resolving complaints, however, this may not be possible (for example when a complaint involves allegedly unlawful behaviour or when UTS's duty of care may be compromised if no action is taken).
  • Complainants have a right to procedural fairness and avenues of support (for example specialist complaint handling areas and the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) (Staff Connect)).
  • The appropriate resolution process is determined by the Staff Complaints Officer (SCO) in line with the principles and statements outlined in the policy and these procedures.

4. Procedural statements

Managing disagreements

4.1 It is understood that many complaints begin as minor work disagreements. Where this is the case, staff are supported in addressing these disagreements as early as possible locally in line with the behavioural expectations outlined in the policy.

4.2 Staff should raise any work-related disagreement or minor issues with the individual who is the subject of the disagreement. Further assistance for staff (SharePoint, staff only) on how to address a disagreement before it becomes a complaint is available on the Complaints portal (SharePoint, staff only) (the portal).

When a disagreement becomes a complaint

4.3 Where managing the disagreement is not possible, staff should raise any work-related complaints or issues with their manager. Managers must respond to the complaint as soon as is practicable and at least within 10 working days of receiving the complaint, usually by talking to or meeting with the complainant.

4.4 Where meeting with a manager is not appropriate, or where the complainant is dissatisfied with the response from their manager, a complaint may be made via the portal (SharePoint, staff only) in line with the policy for management by the SCO.

4.5 Staff may seek advice from the People Unit or the Centre for Social Justice and Inclusion (CSJI) at any point during the process.

4.6 Complainants and respondents have the right to be accompanied by a representative of their choice during all discussions related to the complaint (for example a representative of People Unit or other specialist complaint handling area). As this is not a legal process, the representative cannot be a barrister or solicitor in private practice.

Registering and acknowledging staff complaints

4.7 In managing a staff complaint lodged via the portal, the SCO will:

  • record and maintain details of the complaint on an approved central database
  • provide written acknowledgement to the complainant via email (unless another method is specifically requested and deemed appropriate)
  • begin assessment of the complaint within 10 working days of receipt of the complaint
  • notify the respondent as appropriate, and
  • conduct an initial assessment and either:
    • resolve the complaint, or
    • refer the complaint to the most appropriate staff member for further management and resolution.

4.8 The SCO will normally refer the complaint to the appropriate staff member in closest proximity to the issue/event(s) giving rise to the complaint.

  • In most cases, the respondent will be notified of the complaint, unless there is a prevailing reason not to do so (for example if the complaint relates to harassment or there is concern for the wellbeing of the complainant or the respondent).
  • Where a complaint cannot be forwarded directly to the respondent, the SCO will contact their line manager.

4.9 Where the respondent is a member of the senior executive, the senior executive may request that the SCO also refer the complaint to the Director, People or the Director, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (CSJI).

Informal and formal complaints resolution processes

4.10 When reviewing a complaint, the SCO and/or the complainant’s manager as appropriate is expected to consider the following to help determine whether the process is managed informally or formally:

  • the seriousness, complexity and urgency of the issue(s)
  • potential risks to the health and/or safety of the complainant or respondent
  • whether an external agency is better placed to take care of the complaint
  • how best to offer a timely resolution to the complaint, and
  • how to ensure personal information of the complainant is not disclosed to any third party unnecessarily.

4.11 The SCO or manager may seek advice from the Centre for Social Justice and Inclusion and/or may refer the complainant to the EAP (Staff Connect) for additional support during the triage process.

4.12 To progress a complaint to resolution, the SCO or manager may:

  • seek further information from the complainant, respondent or a third party
  • refer to relevant policies and procedures, and/or
  • conduct research to inform an appropriate resolution in the circumstances of the complaint.

4.13 Informal resolution processes are normally used for role specific or interpersonal work-related issues and are managed by the SCO in consultation with the complainant, the respondent and an appropriate line manager.

4.14 An informal resolution process may take place on more than one occasion to reasonably reach a satisfactory resolution. It is normally when this process has reached an unsatisfactory conclusion, or more serious issues come to light, that a formal complaints process begins.

4.15 It is acknowledged that informal complaints resolution steps may not be suitable and a formal resolution process is required where:

  • the complainant feels intimidated by the respondent
  • the complaint relates to allegations of any harmful or unlawful behaviour (including but not limited to, bullying, discrimination, sexual assault or harassment, discrimination, or any other type of harassment, breach of confidentiality or issues relating to foreign interference), or
  • the complaint relates to corruption or other illegal activities.

4.16 Complainants and respondents may meet with a mediator (the SCO, manager or other appropriate mediator) in person or online (for example via video call or conferencing) to facilitate the resolution of their complaint.

4.17 For both informal and formal complaints resolution processes, both complainants and respondents will be given the opportunity to be accompanied and assisted by a support person (who must not be a legal representative).

Outcomes of the complaint resolution process

4.18 Potential outcomes of the complaint resolution process are outlined in the policy. In some instances, no further action will be taken in response to the complaint. This situation may occur where:

  • the complaint cannot be substantiated
  • inquiries or action were limited as the complaint was made anonymously
  • all available resolution options have been rejected by the complainant.

4.19 A resolution to an informal complaint must be proposed within 20 working days of the acknowledgement of the complaint by the SCO or manager. Formal resolution processes will take longer depending on the nature of the complaint and the resolution processes required. Staff will be informed of the outcome of their complaint and their rights for internal or external review.

4.20 Requests for advice or information in relation to the progress of a complaint should be accommodated wherever possible.

Internal and external review of outcomes

4.21 Staff may request a review of the outcome of a formal or informal complaint resolution process in line with the policy.

4.22 The university will take appropriate action in response to any recommendation resulting from a review and advise the complainant accordingly.

5. Procedural ownership and support

5.1 Procedures owner: The Director, People is responsible for enforcement of, compliance with, and approval of these procedures. 

5.2 Procedures contact: The Director, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (Centre for Social Justice and Inclusion) and the Staff Complaints Officer (SCO), People Unit are responsible for the implementation of these procedures and act as points of contact for advice on implementing its provisions.

6. Definitions

The definitions outlined in the policy apply for these procedures.

Approval information

Policy contacts Director, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
Staff Complaints Officer
Approval authority Director, People
Review date 2024
File number UR20/1795
Superseded documents Handling Staff Grievances Policy (UR16/877)
Resolving Staff Grievances – guidance for supervisors

Version history

Version Approved by Approval date Effective date Sections modified
1.0 Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Corporate Services) 07/04/2021 08/04/2021 New procedures.
1.1 Director, Governance Support Unit (Delegation 3.14.1) 19/05/2021 17/06/2021 Changes to reflect new organisational structure of the Centre for Social Justice and Inclusion.
1.2 Executive Director, Corporate Governance (Delegation 3.14.2) 28/04/2022 28/04/2022 Minor changes to reflect portfolio realignment under Fit for 2027 project.

PDF version

Staff Complaints Procedures (PDF 160KB)

References

Centre for Social Justice and Inclusion

Code of Conduct

Complaints portal (SharePoint, staff only)

Employee Assistance Program (Staff Connect)

Equity, Inclusion and Respect Policy

Privacy Policy

Records Management Policy

Staff Complaints Policy