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Compliments, complaints and comments procedure

VAB appreciates feedback of any sort on its performance and the following process can be followed by anyone wishing to compliment or make other comments in addition to those wishing to make complaints. This procedure is for complaints made by people who are not members of staff. Members of staff should use the grievance procedure which is part of their contract of employment. VAB volunteers should normally use the grievance procedure, unless that is inappropriate.

This procedure assumes that complaints will either be against the organisation as a whole or against a particular individual. In either case, the complaint should normally be put in writing to the Chief Executive. Other complaints will not be accepted unless there is good reason for their not being in writing. Anonymous complaints will not be considered. Any complaint that is validly received will be acknowledged in writing within seven working days. A record will be made of each stage in the procedure.

Complaints against the organisation

On receiving a complaint, the Chief Executive will (a) attempt to verify the facts; (b) check whether any action taken by VAB was in accordance with policies and procedures; (c) ascertain what action the complainant wishes to have taken.

At this stage the Chief Executive will try to see whether the matter can be resolved within the policies and procedures of VAB. This shall take no more than two weeks.

If the Chief Executive cannot resolve the issue, the matter shall be referred to the Board of Trustees at its next meeting. The Board of Trustees may either deal with the matter immediately or set up a panel to deal with it. The panel shall include at least one Board of Trustees member. The Board of Trustees will ensure that the membership of the panel is balanced. The panel shall hear the complainant and receive any other appropriate representations and make a decision.

If the complainant is dissatisfied with a decision made by the panel, an appeal may be made to the Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees, unless it decides the complaint is time wasting, shall hear the complainant and any other representatives, and make a decision.

In meeting the panel or the Board of Trustees, the complainant may be accompanied by another person who may speak on his or her behalf.

A first panel meeting shall be held within four weeks of the panel being set up, and any further meetings within a total of eight weeks.

Complaints against individuals

In the first place the complaint is to be dealt with by the Chief Executive, who will listen to all parties and attempt to reach mutual agreement on the subject of the complaint. If this cannot be done, the Chief Executive shall make a decision.

If the complainant is dissatisfied with the decision of the Chief Executive, an appeal should be made to the Chair, who will then convene a panel of three members of the Board of Trustees, not including himself/herself. This panel shall listen to all parties and make a decision.

If the complainant is still dissatisfied, the matter may be taken to a meeting of the Board of Trustees. If the panel is of the opinion that the complaint is time wasting, it may report to this effect to the Board of Trustees, and the Board of Trustees may refuse to proceed any further. Otherwise the Board of Trustees shall hear all parties and make a decision.

It is the intention that all complaints shall be resolved as amicably as possible and as speedily as possible. The first two stages shall be dealt with within five weeks, and the third stage at the next scheduled meeting of the Board of Trustees.

In meeting the panel and the Board of Trustees the complainant may be accompanied by another person who shall be allowed to speak, and if this right is exercised the person complained against may also be accompanied by another person who is allowed to speak.

Relationship with the grievance procedure

A member of staff shall not normally use the grievance procedure to prevent the complaints procedure running its course. A member of staff may use the grievance procedure (a) if the complaints procedure set out above is not adhered to; (b) if the same person persists in making complaints which are found to be unwarranted; (c) if what appears to be the final decision is unsatisfactory.

Relationship with disciplinary procedure

If the complaints panel of the Board of Trustees decide to issue a warning to a member of staff, this shall be regarded as the equivalent of an oral warning given by the Chief Executive under the first stage of the disciplinary procedure, unless the member of staff has already been given an oral warning, in which case the appropriate warning shall be given.

Compliments & comments

VAB welcomes positive and constructive feedback from its customers and service users. Individuals and organisations wishing to provide compliments and/or constructive comments may do so by sending details directly to the individual concerned, or to the associated project leader. Individuals should ensure that they take this feedback to their subsequent supervision or appraisal meeting. The project leader should ensure that details of any compliments/comments are passed on to the Chief Executive for central record compilation, and reporting to the Board of Trustees.

Where appropriate, the Chief Executive will provide details to the VAB Quality Group so that best practice can be identified and replicated wherever possible.

Where constructive comments have been raised, the individual should discuss this with their line manager at the supervision or appraisal meeting, exploring the possibilities of changing their practices to improve the area/s concerned. A record of this should be made on the relevant supervision or appraisal form, detailing action points and future monitoring. Following the meeting, the project leader should write to the customer thanking them for their feedback and stating the actions which have been agreed.

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