The Association has a Complaints Procedure so that (a) people who are aggrieved know how to make a complaint, and are thus confident that it will be properly addressed, (b) officers within the Association know how to deal with a complaint, and who to refer it to, so as to provide resolution, and (c) the charity’s trustees and managers can be confident that complaints and grievances are being addressed appropriately.
There are separate arrangements, not detailled here, for two specialised areas with the Association's work. There is, as is required by law, a formal grievances procedure for all employees, which is referred to in employees' Contract of Employment. There is also a formal complaints procedure in respect of the insurances that IWA arranges, and IWA’s arrangement thereof. This is notified in writing to each participant in the insurances that IWA arranges. This procedure is largely determined by the rules of the Financial Services Authority, is overseen by that Authority (which is the ultimate arbiter), and which maintains a compensation fund for claimants. These two areas are entirely outside the scope of the Complaints Procedure for the rest of the Association's activities.
The Complaints Procedure is not intended as a process to appeal against commercial decisions (such as the price of a book or entrance fee at an event), nor against policy decisions already decided by trustees or at AGMs.
The Association's policy concerning all grievances and complaints is to try to avoid them arising in the first place, but where they do arise to address them as quickly as possible so they do not grow or fester. The first duty of both the complainant and the ‘complained to’ should therefore be to try to resolve any unhappiness as quickly as possible. A prerequisite of this is that a complainant knows the right person or place to address their concern, or ultimately to make their complaint. They may also require some help to progress their concern in the most constructive manner. The Complaints Procedure outlined below tries to assist this process.
The three stages of the Procedure are as follows:
Both parties should try to resolve the problem without the need for it to be escalated elsewhere. Advice is available from the staff at Head Office if a complainant does not know the right place for a grievance to be addressed. Ultimately, if a resolution is not forthcoming between the parties then the complainant should write a letter (which can be sent electronically) and should expect a written response within 28 days.
If the first stage of the procedure does not resolve the grievance, then the complainant should formally make a complaint. This should be done in writing, addressed to the Chief Executive at Head Office and copies of the written letter from the first stage and any response received enclosed. The chief executive will then independently review the complaint made and seek advice of why the complaint has been rejected. The Chief Executive will then decide whether or not the complaint is justified, what remedy, if any, should be provided, and will then convey that decision, in writing, to all parties concerned. This should be communicated to both the complainant and ‘the complained about’ at the same time, and within 42 days. This time is designed to allow sufficient for the Chief Executive to make any necessary enquiries, etc.
The Chief Executive is likely to refuse any ‘second stage’ complaints where the first stage has not been carried out, or that are not put in writing, or where the complainant refuses permission for their complaint to be shown to the parties that they are complaining about. Trustees and other officers receiving complaints direct should refer the complainant to the proper procedure, or to the staff at Head Office to give advice on how to proceed with the complaint.
If the first stage involves a grievance with the Chief Executive, then in this circumstance, the formal complaint in the second stage should be made to the national chairman, who will then perform the duty that would otherwise fall to the Chief Executive.
If either party is dissatisfied with the outcome determined by the Chief Executive at the second stage outlined above, then there is a final stage of appeal, which can be made to the trustees of the Association. This should be addressed to the National Chairman (and copy sent to the Chief Executive). It would then be brought to the next available meeting of the Board of Trustees that is due to be held at least 21 days after the notice of appeal is received by the National Chairman. The trustees would then consider the appeal based on the written evidence already amassed in stage two, and give a final decision. A complainant would not have a right of attendance at the meeting of trustees, unless the trustees felt it appropriate to make such an invitation.
Unless such an appeal (stage 3) is made within 28 days of the Chief Executive’s ruling (stage 2), the relevant parts of the Association should accept and adhere to the Stage 2 ruling.
If the National Chairman, in consultation with at least one Deputy National Chairman believes the Stage 3 appeal to be frivolous and not of a serious nature then the National Chairman may refuse it.