This policy is intended to ensure that we handle complaints fairly, efficiently, and effectively. This policy provides guidance to our staff and people who wish to make a complaint on the key principles and concepts of our complaint management system. This policy applies to all staff, contractors, and our governing body, receiving or managing complaints from the public and clients made to or about us, regarding our products, services, and staff, or our complaint handling process. NIA expects staff at all levels to be committed to fair, effective and efficient complaint handling.
Terms and Definitions
Complaint: An expression of dissatisfaction made to or about us, our services, staff, or the handling of a complaint where a response or resolution is explicitly or implicitly expected or legally required.
Complaint handling/management system: All policies, procedures, practices, staff, hardware and software used by us in the management of complaints.
Dispute: An unresolved complaint escalated either within or outside of our organization.
Feedback: Opinions, comments and expressions of interest or concern, made directly or indirectly, explicitly or implicitly, to or about us, about our services or complaint handling system where a response is not explicitly or implicitly expected or legally required.
Grievance: A clear, formal written statement by an individual staff member about another staff member or a work-related problem.
Policy: A statement of instruction that sets out how we should fulfill our vision, mission and goals.
Procedure: A statement or instruction that sets out how our policies will be implemented and by whom.
NIA’s complaint handling system is modeled on the principles of fairness, accessibility, responsiveness, efficiency, and integration into our organizations culture.
Step 1: Facilitating complaints
Step 2: Acknowledging and responding to complaints
Step 3: Managing and resolving the complaint
Facilitating complaints: We are committed to seeking and receiving feedback and complaints about our services, systems, practices, procedures, products, and complaint handling. Any concerns raised in feedback or complaints will be dealt with within a reasonable time frame.
People making complaints will be:
provided with information about our complaint handling process and how to access it
listened to, treated with respect by staff and actively involved in the complaint process where possible and appropriate, and
provided with reasons for our decision(s) and any options for redress or review.
Retaliation: We will take all reasonable steps to ensure that people making complaints are not adversely affected because a complaint has been made by them or on their behalf.
Anonymous complaints: We accept anonymous complaints if there is a compelling reason to do so and will carry out a confidential investigation of the issues raised where there is enough information provided.
Accessibility: We will ensure that information about how and where complaints may be made to or about us is published on our website. We will ensure that our systems to manage complaints are easily understood and accessible to everyone. If a person prefers or needs another person or organization to assist or represent them in the making and/or resolution of their complaint, we will communicate with them through their representative if this is their wish. Anyone may represent a person wishing to make a complaint with their consent.
Responding to complaints: When appropriate we may offer an explanation or apology to the person making the complaint.
Responsiveness: We will promptly acknowledge receipt of complaints. We will assess and prioritize complaints in accordance with the urgency and/or seriousness of the issues raised. If a matter concerns an immediate risk to safety or security the response will be immediate and will be escalated appropriately.
We are committed to managing people’s expectations, and will inform them as soon as possible, of the following:
the complaints process
the expected time frames for our actions
the progress of the complaint and reasons for any delay
their likely involvement in the process, and
the possible or likely outcome of their complaint.
Objectivity and fairness: We will address each complaint with integrity and in an equitable, objective and unbiased manner. We will ensure that the person handling a complaint is different from any staff member whose conduct or service is being complained about. Conflicts of interest, whether actual or perceived, will be managed responsibly. In particular, internal reviews of how a complaint was managed will be conducted by a person other than the original decision maker.
Responding flexibly: Our staff are empowered to resolve complaints promptly and with as little formality as possible. We will adopt flexible approaches to service delivery and problem solving to enhance accessibility for people making complaints and/or their representatives. We will assess each complaint on its merits and involve people making complaints and/or their representative in the process as far as possible.
Confidentiality: We will protect the identity of people making complaints where this is practical and appropriate. Personal information that identifies individuals will only be disclosed or used by us as permitted under the relevant privacy laws, secrecy provisions and any relevant confidentiality obligations.
Empowerment of staff: All staff managing complaints are empowered to implement our complaint management system as relevant to their role and responsibilities. Staff are encouraged to provide feedback on the effectiveness and efficiency of all aspects of our complaint management system.
Managing unreasonable conduct by people making complaints: We are committed to being accessible and responsive to all people who approach us with feedback or complaints. At the same time our success depends on:
our ability to do our work and perform our functions in the most effective and efficient way possible
the health, safety and security of our staff, and
our ability to allocate our resources fairly across all the complaints we receive.
When people behave unreasonably in their dealings with us, their conduct can significantly affect the progress and efficiency of our work. As a result, we will take proactive and decisive action to manage any conduct that negatively and unreasonably affects us and will support our staff to do the same in accordance with this policy.
Monitoring of the complaint management system
We will continually monitor our complaint management system to:
ensure its effectiveness in responding to and resolving complaints
identify and correct deficiencies in the operation of the system, and
We are committed to improving the way our organisation operates, including our management of the effectiveness and efficiency of our complaint management system. To this end, we will:
support the making and appropriate resolution of complaints
implement best practices in complaint handling
recognize and reward exemplary complaint handling by staff
regularly review the complaint management system, and
implement appropriate system changes arising out of our continual monitoring of the system.
The five key stages in our complaint management system are set out below
Unless the complaint has been resolved at the outset, we will record the complaint and its supporting information.
The record of the complaint will document:
Contact information of the person making a complaint and the date received
Issues raised by the person making a complaint and the outcome/s they want
Any other relevant information.
We will acknowledge receipt of each complaint promptly, and preferably within 5 working days. When appropriate we may offer an explanation or apology.
Consideration will be given to the most appropriate medium (e.g. email, letter) for communicating with the person making a complaint.
3. ASSESS AND INVESTIGATE
Initial assessment: After acknowledging receipt of the complaint, we will confirm whether the issue(s) raised in the complaint is/are within our control. We will also consider the outcome(s) sought by the person making a complaint and, where there is more than one issue raised, determine whether each issue needs to be separately addressed. When determining how a complaint will be managed, we will consider:
How serious, complicated or urgent the complaint is
Whether the complaint raises concerns about people’s health and safety
How the person making the complaint is being affected
The risks involved if resolution of the complaint is delayed, and
Whether a resolution requires the involvement of other organizations.
Investigating the complaint: After assessing the complaint, we will consider how to manage it. We may:
Give the person making a complaint information or an explanation
Gather information about the issue, person or area that the complaint is about, or
Investigate the claims made in the complaint.
We will keep the person making the complaint up-to-date on our progress, particularly if there are any delays. We will also communicate the outcome of the complaint using the most appropriate medium. Which actions we decide to take will be tailored to each case and take into account any statutory requirements.
4. DETERMINE OUTCOME AND PROVIDE REASONS FOR DECISION(S)
Following consideration of the complaint and any investigation into the issues raised, we will contact the person making the complaint and advise them:
The outcome of the complaint and any action we took
The reason(s) for our decision
The remedy or resolution(s) that we have proposed or put in place, and
Any options for review that may be available to the complainant, such as an internal review, external review or appeal.
5. CLOSE THE COMPLAINT
We will keep records about:
How we managed the complaint
The outcome/s of the complaint (including whether it or any aspect of it was substantiated, any recommendations made to address problems identified and any decisions made on those recommendations), and
Any outstanding actions to be followed up, including analyzing any underlying or root causes.