General Complaints Procedure

Introduction
 
The Procedure for investigating allegations of a breach of one of the BISA Codes of conduct will normally commence with the Informal Procedure outlined under (1) 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 Chair of BISA in full consultation with the individual concerned.   
 
1. Informal procedure
a) A complainant who considers that he or she is a victim of a breach of one of the BISA Codes of conduct should, if practicable, seek to resolve the matter informally with the person against whom the allegation is made.  
 
b) If an informal approach under 1(a) is unsuccessful or inappropriate, complainants should raise the matter with the Chair of the Association.  The Chair should, within a reasonable time (and recognising that the Chair is a non-stipendiary post with other obligations), 
 
i) Discuss with the complainant the complaint (this may be done by e-mail, or by telephone, and a record should be kept);
ii) Contact the person against whom the complaint has been made and outline the nature of the complaint and ascertain that personÔÇÖs response to the complaint;
iii) If appropriate, arrange a joint meeting with the parties to discuss the case;
iv) 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;
v) Keep a brief written record on file in the National Office. 
 
c) If the BISA Chair is the person against whom the complaint is made, paragraph 1(b) shall be interpreted as referring to the BISA President. The same applies to the formal procedure under 2(b).
 
2. Formal procedure
a) 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.
 
b) A formal complaint should be made in writing to the Chair of BISA who will immediately send a copy of the complaint to the person(s) against whom the allegation is made.  
 
c) A written complaint should include the following information:
 
i) The name of the person against whom the complaint is being made;
ii) The nature of the conduct about which a complaint is made, including where possible dates and times;
iii) The names of any people who may have witnessed the conduct complained of;
iv) Any action that may already have been taken (either under (1) above or otherwise) to resolve the matter.
 
d) The Chair of BISA will initiate an investigation of the complaint. 
 
i) An investigation shall be undertaken by a committee appointed by the Chair of BISA in consultation with the Executive Officers.
ii) 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 e-mail). 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. 
 
e) The investigating committee will prepare a report which will review the evidence and:
 
i) recommend that on the basis of the evidence the complaint is dismissed;
ii) OR 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;
iii) OR 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 Directors meeting. Notice of 21 days will be given to the subject complained about so they can attend and make their case. 
 
f) The Executive has the following disciplinary powers:
 
(i) to write a formal letter of censure;
(ii) to exclude individuals either temporarily or permanently from specific BISA organised or supported events or activities
(iii) to temporarily suspend membership;
(iv) to suspend membership permanently.
 
g) 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). An appeal can be made only on grounds of procedural irregularity or where the outcome of the investigation is seen to be manifestly unreasonable.
 
3. General
a) 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 detailed under 2(f). The investigating committee should investigate any such action and make recommendations as part of its report.
 
b) At all stages of this Procedure the complainant, person against whom the complaint has been made or witness may be accompanied by a colleague who does not have to be a member of BISA. 
 
c) All information gathered under this Procedure will be treated in confidence.
 
4. References 
BISA code of conduct 2007
 
Adopted February 2014
 
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