Presentation on theme: "A Review of Grievances and Complaints Procedures Jan Stuart, Senior Consultant Human Resources Beverley Hill, Manager Equity and Diversity The University."— Presentation transcript:
A Review of Grievances and Complaints Procedures Jan Stuart, Senior Consultant Human Resources Beverley Hill, Manager Equity and Diversity The University of Western Australia OMBODSHEAA Conference The University of New England 4th December 2006
The Problem(s) Too many processes -- how to choose the right one Processes too complex and time consuming People not always happy with the process (let alone the outcome) Perceptions of ‘ad hocery’ Auditor-General demanding better accountability on complaints from all public sector bodies Commonwealth legislation requiring clear and accessible processes as part of governance protocols
Scope of the Problem Public Complaints -- no formal system other than for parking Student Grievances and Complaints -- different procedures for PG and UG Staff Grievances and Complaints -- general policies & guidelines, industrial agreements and legislation, equity legislation, safety & health legislation, research conduct leading to confusion
Our Approach Establishment of a Working Party chaired by Robyn Carroll, UWA Law School Representation from across the University -- Legal Services, Equity & Diversity, Human Resources, Vice- Chancellery, UG Studies, PG Studies, Guild
Terms of Reference To identify the nature and range of complaints and/or grievances that may occur in the University To review the various mechanisms by which these complaints and/or grievances are currently resolved To advise on principles that should pertain in the resolution of these complaints and grievances To identify ways in which current grievance/complaint processes can be improved and/or streamlined
Methodology Scanning the literature Conducting an online survey -- complainants, respondents, managers and others (eg witnesses, advocates, mediators) National research -- Professor Hilary Astor Establish three Sub Committees -- public complaints, student grievances and complaints, staff grievances and complaints
Principles to be Maintained To base processes on existing management structure To resolve grievances and complaints at the lowest level wherever possible To reinforce that grievance and complaint resolution is an integral part of a manager’s duties To refer complaints to a range of dispute resolution processes (including reference to an externally constituted body) where appropriate In some instances to address the issues raised by a complaint as a responsibility for duty of care even if a complaint has been withdrawn or the concerns have arisen in a context other than as a formal complaint To operate in accordance with procedural fairness in the resolution of grievances and complaints
Issues Raised (Staff Complaints) Need for clarity in interpretation of terms and processes Less than effective use of procedures by management at the local level leading to concerns about timeliness Need to comply with a complex legislative environment and to adhere to international standards Need for policy and operational consistency and alignment Lack of coordination and system reporting -- risk management concern
Designing a Procedural Framework -- Five Steps (1) 1.Identifying a Complaint Are there grounds? Who can help? 2.Making a Complaint What are the entitlements of the parties? 3.Assessing and Managing a Complaint Who is the right person to manage the complaint? Who has the authority to do what is required? Is there is role for conflict resolution process while investigation proceeds?
Designing a Procedural Framework -- Five Steps (2) 4.Complaints and Dispute Resolution (processes) What process is best suited to resolve the complaint? At what level should the complaint be resolved? 5.Determining and Managing Outcomes What will be done? Report? Recommendations? Agreements? Sanctions?
Areas of Recommendation A coherent policy and simplified procedures Systemic data collection and reporting Simplicity, coherence, alignment, and integration in procedures Awareness raising and information for complainants and respondents Skilling those charged with managing complaints (training and support) Careful ‘before’ and ‘after’ management Adequate record-keeping Using a case management approach Providing adequate resources Developing performance indicators Enforcing agreements
Some ‘Difficult’ Issues (System and Process) Simplification -- Yes, but how? Responding to anonymous complaints -- whistle blowing ‘Formal’ versus ‘Informal’ complaints Complexity of current industrial agreements -- one staff, one process The authority of the Head of School Adequate resources
Some ‘Difficult’ Issues (The Participants) Personal capacity and skills of the managers -- the need for training and acknowledgement of responsibility Perception by staff that complaints are ‘career limiting’ Perception that some people are ‘untouchable’ The ‘emotional intelligence’ and/or mental health of participants Power differentials