Complaints and Escalation Policy & Procedure
VN Appointments Ltd (VNA) values the opinion and feedback of its employees, candidates and clients and is committed to improving service quality in response to feedback, suggestions, complaints or service issues.
We believe that our customer service is what differentiates us from our competitors, and as such we are continuously seeking ways to improve the service that we give to both our clients and candidates.
Scope of the Policy
This policy applies to all aspects of the company’s service, policies and procedures. All employees and candidates are required to comply with this policy when dealing with complaints and if required complaint escalation.
Although the bulk of service issues are raised and dealt with operationally on a day-to-day basis, there may be occasions when a particular issue needs to be raised and handled formally.
VNA operates a very open and accessible operational structure, ensuring that senior management and the directors are available when required to all parties. This structure allows decisions requiring executive level input to take place quickly and efficiently, streamlining the service to our Clients and Candidates.
All complaints and service issues will be thoroughly investigated and documented with all parties involved. Clear and accurate communication is central to effective resolution. Complaints should be made in writing, initially to the member of staff concerned. Receipt of the complaint will be acknowledged immediately pending investigation.
Information will be requested regarding who is making the complaint together with the nature of the complaint. This will be recorded in the complaints register.
The staff member to whom the complaint was initially made (with support from a manager if necessary) will investigate the complaint and interview individual parties as appropriate. Written statements will be obtained from those interviewed and a summary report will be written. Action to resolve the complaint will be detailed and where appropriate incorporated as part of our standard processes and procedures to prevent re-occurrence and improve service. Responses to the complaint will be made in writing.
Actions and Response times will be as follows:
Stage 1 – Acknowledgement
- Acknowledgement of complaint within 2 business days of receipt. Acknowledgement shall be in writing with all correspondence stored on our company CRM system for tracking, auditing and monitoring purposes.
- A response will be made to complainant within 48 hours of completing interviews. In every case we will take all reasonable and practicable steps to resolve the complaint within 15 business days of its receipt unless the nature of the complaint requires additional investigation or action by an appropriate third party in which case the complaint will be made good or resolved as soon as possible thereafter.
Stage 2 – Identification
- What is the complaint regarding?
- Document the incident.
- Report the incident to client / internal management and relevant parties.
- If the complaint is regarding a candidate, does the client wish to terminate the arrangement for the candidate’s services immediately?
- Does the client wish to retain the candidate’s services pending investigation?
- Does the client require a replacement candidate?
- If regarding an internal employee, do VNA’s management / compliance management consider the employee as needing to be suspended pending the investigation?
Stage 3 – Further Contact
- Following receipt of a written report from the client, we write to the employee /candidate concerned and ask him/her to attend a meeting at our office. We advise them that it would be in their own interest to be accompanied by a representative.
- We write to the client informing them of the steps we have taken.
Stage 4 – Investigation
- Prior to such investigation, we request a written statement from the party making the complaint, together with any supporting statements outlining the nature of the allegations.
- Investigation will commence immediately with an assessment of the situation and contact with all individuals involved.
- The interview and discussion is arranged surrounding the complaint for fact finding purposes. They are informed they may bring a colleague / independent representative.
- Interviews will be held within 48 working hours unless there are extenuating circumstances.
- Report all findings back to the person making the complaint / client and relevant government bodies (if applicable).
Stage 5 – Meeting Procedure
- We arrange a meeting and ensure that 2 representatives (one to conduct the investigation and the other to act as a witness and note taker) are present:
- Upon the meeting we introduce parties to each other
- State that this is not to be regarded as a disciplinary procedure, merely an investigation of a formal allegation which we have received.
- The details of the allegation are presented at this point (copies are handed out only with prior consent from the client) and the candidate is invited to comment.
- The candidate’s comments are noted and read back to them for confirmation that we have noted the response accurately.
- If the employee / candidate accepts responsibility for their actions and expresses regret, we give advice as to the dangers of laying himself/herself open to allegation. We also draw attention to our Code of Conduct and explain that the future of the candidate as a member of our register will be dependent on his/her acceptance of and adherence moving forward to the Code.
- If, however, the candidate denies the charge, we note his/her comments and say that we will report these back to the local authority / Client / government body. We inform them that following this meeting, the client may or may not wish to pursue matters and that we will keep them informed of further developments.
Stage 6. – Follow up
- Following the meeting we will then write to the client / person making the complaint to report on the outcome of our investigation. The local authority/ client is advised that if the matter cannot be resolved and that the seriousness of the allegation warrants further action, to adopt whatever measures would normally come into force to meet legal requirements.
- During the course of any such proceedings a senior representative of VNA Recruitment will be available to attend, if requested, any meetings to share information and co- operate fully with the Authority pending a final decision. All internal paperwork will also be made available.
- All notes are stored on our company CRM system and are monitored on a regular basis to ensure no trends occur.
During the complaints resolution process we will ensure that both the Contracting Authority and the Complainant are kept abreast of progress in making good or resolving the complaint and on resolution details of the complaint, actions and procedures put in place to prevent recurrence will be provided to all parties in writing.
We maintain a written log of all complaints which including details of the complaint, actions taken to resolve it and any changes to procedures to prevent recurrence. Complaints will be analysed on a quarterly and annual basis to identify any trends or patterns and this will form part of management reporting and be an agenda point for discussion at review meetings.
Level 1 – Receipt of initial complaint
Upon receipt of a complaint, the complainant will receive immediately acknowledgement of receipt of the complaint, together with an explanation of resolution wherever possible and estimated timescales to resolve.
If the Level 1 employee cannot resolve the problem or if the complaint is of a serious nature, it will be escalated to Level 2 immediately.
Level 2 – VNA’s Contracts Manager
Upon receipt of an escalated complaint and within 48 working hours, the Level 2 employee will:
- Respond to the Level 1 employee and the complainant to acknowledge receipt of complaint and clarify understanding of issue.
- Provide the Level 1 employee and the complainant with an explanation of proposed resolution and anticipated timescale.
If the Level 2 employee cannot resolve the problem within the required timescales or the complaint is of a sufficiently serious nature, it will be escalated to Level 3.
Level 3 – VNA’s Director
Upon receipt of an escalated complaint, the VNA will:
- Immediately commence an assessment of the situation and contact with the individuals involved. Respond to complaint within 48 hours of completing interviews.
Should the complainant be dissatisfied with any aspect of the handling of their complaint or the outcome they should contact the complaints handling team, by outlining the details in full, to:
VN Appointments Ltd, 2 Crown Yard, Billericay, CM12 9BX
The complaint will then be investigated by company directors and management, who will propose a suggested course of action. The management will continue to review the outcome of the complaint at agreed times for a minimum period of 12 months.
Escalation to the REC
In the event that the response to a complaint relating to professional standards is unsatisfactory, a letter may be addressed to the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), outlining the details in full to:
The Professional Standards Manager, Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), Dorset House, First Floor, 27-45 Stamford Street, London, SE1 9NT.
Every effort will be made to maintain confidentiality and guard against publicity while an allegation is being investigated/considered.
A clear and comprehensive summary of any allegations made, details of how the allegation was followed up and resolved, and a note of any action taken and decisions reached, will be kept on a person’s confidential personnel file, and a copy provided to the person concerned. In house copies are stored on our company CRM with limited access to anyone aside from those dealing with the allegation. The purpose of the record is to enable accurate information to be given in response to any future request for a reference if the person has moved on.
It will provide clarification in cases where a future DBS Disclosure reveals information from the police about an allegation that did not result in a criminal conviction. In addition, it will help to prevent unnecessary re-investigation if, as sometimes happens, an allegation re-surfaces after a period of time. The record will be retained at least until the person has reached normal retirement age or for a period of 10 years from the date of the allegation, if that is longer.
It is in everyone’s interest to resolve cases as quickly as possible consistent with a fair and thorough investigation. Every effort will be made to manage cases to avoid any unnecessary delay.
How are sensitive cases regarding candidates referred?
Allegations of serious misconduct against a candidate may be referred to the health care & professions council by any of those listed below:
- a candidate’s employer, including an employment or supply agency, has a legal duty to consider whether to refer a case to the HCPC when they have dismissed a social worker for misconduct, or would have dismissed them had they not resigned first
- members of the public who think that a case of misconduct by a candidate is serious enough to warrant a prohibition order, although the HCPC will expect local procedures to have been exhausted before it will consider investigating the case the police, the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and other regulators who are aware of relevant information.
Action on Conclusion of a Case
If the allegation is substantiated and the person is dismissed or VNA ceases to use the person’s services, or the person resigns or otherwise ceases to provide his/her services, the Manager will determine with the Local authorities Safeguarding team whether a referral to the ISA is required, or advisable. VNA shall report to the ISA, any person whose services are no longer used because he or she is considered unsuitable to work with children or vulnerable adults. (The ISA, PO Box 181, Darlington DL1 9FA. Tel: 0300 1231111). This report will be made within one month of the decision to cease using the services of that person.
In cases where it is decided on the conclusion of the case that a person who has been suspended can return to work, VNA will consider how best to facilitate that. We appreciate that most people will benefit from some help and support to return to work after a very stressful experience. Depending on the individual’s circumstances, a phased return and/or the provision of a mentor to provide assistance and support in the short term may be appropriate.
Action in Respect of False Allegations
If an allegation is determined to be false, the manager will refer the matter to the local authority’s social services to determine whether the child concerned is in need of services, or may have been abused by someone else. In the rare event that an allegation is shown to have been deliberately invented or malicious, the manager will consider whether any disciplinary action is appropriate against the staff/child or vulnerable adult who made it, or the police should be asked to consider whether any action might be appropriate against the person responsible if s/he was not a child.
This procedure will be reviewed regularly and may be altered from time to time in light of legislative changes or other prevailing circumstances.
It is VNA’s utmost priority that incidents and complaints are dealt with in a fair manner. Our operating system of individually accountable personal consultants for schools and candidates means that a consultant will normally deal with a complaint until its resolution. If at any time a complainant is not satisfied with the treatment of their complaint, then VNA Recruitment has a clear line management structure for the complaint to be referred to a more senior level.