COMPLAINTS & DISCIPLINARY PROCEDURE
1.1. AHFSA has an important role in raising and setting standards in the recruitment and staffing industry.
1.2. In order to maintain high standards, Members agrees that the AHFSA shall investigate Members’ ongoing compliance with the AHFSA Rules through the AHFSA’s online Grievance Forms and Compliance Reviews (inspections).
1.3. AHFSA will also investigate complaints against employee that arise out of an allegation of a breach of any of the AHFSA Rules.
2.1. Definition of Member
For the purposes of the Complaints and Disciplinary Procedure, Members means “Corporate Members (including Overseas clients, Indian clients and individual clients)”
2.2. Complaints against Members
Any person may complain to AHFSA that a Member's conduct has breached any of the AHFSA Rules. Any such complaint will be considered under this Procedure.
2.3. Evidence or allegations in the public arena
AHFSA may instigate an investigation if evidence or allegations made in the public domain come to its attention that suggests that a Member may have breached any of the AHFSA Rules.
2.4. Anonymous complaints
AHFSA will not under normal circumstances accept anonymous complaints but will require full disclosure from all parties in a complaint. AHFSA may at the discretion of the President, accept an anonymous complaint. AHFSA may refer anonymous complaints to the relevant statutory authority as appropriate.
3.1. Time period in which to make a complaint
Complaints must be made to the Complaints Officer in writing. A complaint must be made within six months of
a. the incident complained about, or
b. a finding by a legal or regulatory authority.
In the event that a complaint is brought after six months, the complainant must provide written reasons for the delay. If, in the reasonable opinion of the Complaints Officer, the reasons given do not reasonably justify the delay in bringing the complaint, the Complaints Officer shall have the discretion to refuse the complaint.
3.2. Complaints which AHFSA will investigate
AHFSA will investigate the following complaints which come to the attention of AHFSA and which, in the opinion of the AHFSA are relevant and relate to the Member's operation within the recruitment industry:
• criminal convictions;
• civil court judgments;
• an employment tribunal decision against a Member;
• the revocation of a licence issued by the concern Licensing Authority.
The Complaints Officer will investigate a complaint in accordance with the procedure set out in sections 4 below. The Complaints Officer will write to the member concerned and give them an opportunity to submit a response together with any relevant evidence. The investigation may result in the matter being referred to the Professional Standards Committee.
3.3. Complaints which the AHFSA will not investigate
AHFSA will not investigate:
• complaints that arise from legal or contractual disputes, where there is an alternative means of redress, such as a right of action in a court of law or a tribunal. However, AHFSA may investigate such matters to the extent that they also involve a breach of AHFSA Code or unprofessional conduct by a member that is not otherwise actionable in a court or tribunal. However, if a court or tribunal has reached a decision or made a finding which amounts to a breach of either of AHFSA Rules then the matter may be referred to the Professional Standards Committee in accordance with 4.2 above.
• disputes between Corporate Members and their employees or Individual Members and their employers;
• actions which are already subject to investigation by a regulatory authority (including but not limited to the Office of Fair Trading, the concern Licensing Authority or Information Commissioner’s Office) which has not yet concluded. AHFSA can investigate such matters on conclusion of the relevant authority’s investigation so far as they refer to alleged breached of AHFSA Rules
4. The Complaints and Disciplinary Procedure
4.1. AHFSA Complaints and Disciplinary Procedure is set out below and should be considered in conjunction with AHFSA.
4.2. The Member’s internal complaints procedure
AHFSA requires all Corporate Members to operate a complaints procedure. The complainant should in the first instance raise the matter with the Member concerned, following their internal complaints procedure. If the Member does not reply to the complainant’s satisfaction, the complainant may refer his/ her complaint to AHFSA.
4.3. Complaints should be in writing
Complaints should be submitted in writing to AHFSA, preferably using AHFSA grievance form, together with all relevant documentary evidence supporting the complaint. The complaint will be referred to the Complaints Officer who will assess the complaint for any potential breach of AHFSA Rules. The Complaints Officer will decide whether and how the complaint may be taken forward and will advise the complainant accordingly.
4.4. Formal investigation of a complaint
If the Complaints Officer decides that a formal investigation is required, he/she will notify the Member in writing of the nature of the complaint, along with a copy of the complainant's complaint and any supporting documentation. A letter of acknowledgement will also be sent to the complainant advising that the member has been requested to respond within 10 working days of the date of sending out the notice of complaint.
Complaints that become subject to an investigation will only be dealt with in writing and will not be discussed by telephone.
In appropriate circumstances the Complaints Officer may exercise discretion to mediate a settlement between the parties without instituting the formal Procedure. In these circumstances the Complaints Officer may contact either or both parties by telephone or in writing in order to reach an agreed settlement and will document the agreed outcome in writing to both parties within 5 working days of the outcome having been agreed.
4.5. Consent to forward the complaint to the Member
If there is any reasonable doubt about the complainant consenting to their complaint being forwarded to the Member, such consent will be sought by telephone or by letter before a copy of the complaint is forwarded. If the complainant does not give permission to forward the complaint to the Member, the complainant will be asked to redraft their complaint so that they are willing to allow the Complaints Officer to send it to the Member. If the complainant does not wish to do so, the Complaints Officer will be unable to take the matter further.
4.6. Responding to a complaint
The Member must respond to the complaint in writing within 10 working days of the date of AHFSA notification of the complaint. If the Member is unable to do so, they must notify AHFSA in writing giving reasons. AHFSA will, at its discretion, extend the period for response to a given date, which shall not be longer than 28 days after the original request to investigate the complaint. If the member does not make contact with AHFSA to agree an extension and/or does not respond within 10 working days as outlined above and/or the member’s response is unsatisfactory, AHFSA may refer the matter directly to the concern authorities.
4.7. Requests for further information Upon receiving the Member’s response
The Complaints Officer may contact both the complainant and the Member to seek further information or clarification of any matters raised. All responses to such contacts should be received within a period of 10 working days of the date of the request for further information or clarification, or by the date agreed with the Complaints Officer, if different. The Complaints Officer may refer the matter directly to the concern authorities if a Member fails to respond and/or to co-operate with an investigation and/or the Member’s response is unsatisfactory.
4.8. Disclosure of information received during an investigation
The Complaints Officer will forward all responses and enclosures received during the course of an investigation from either the complainant or the Member to the other party.
4.9. Resolving a complaint
When the Complaints Officer has received adequate information with which to make a finding, the Complaints Officer will act in one of the following ways:
i) If the Complaints Officer is satisfied there is no breach of an AHFSA Code, he/she will write to this effect to both the complainant and the Member.
ii) If the Complaints Officer makes a preliminary finding that the Member has breached any of AHFSA Rules, the Complaints Officer will write to both parties to confirm this and to require a specific response from the Member concerned in respect of evidence and/or assurances that there will no further breaches of AHFSA Rules.
iii) If the Complaints Officer considers it appropriate to try to resolve the matter informally between the parties, the Complaints Officer will give the parties a period of 28 days (“the Resolution Period”) to reach a resolution either independently or with the assistance of the Complaints Officer.
• If the parties agree on a resolution and the Complaints Officer is satisfied that the complaint has been resolved and that there are no remaining issues relating to AHFSA Rules of practice, the Complaints Officer will write to both parties stating this and that no further action is proposed. Alternatively, the Complaints Officer may at his/her discretion pursue any remaining issues relating AHFSA Rules of practice arising from the complaint and not resolved.
• If the matter has not been resolved within the Resolution Period, the Complaints Officer may without further notice to the parties refer the matter to the concern authorities for consideration. The Complaints Officer may make recommendations to the authority who shall act in accordance with section 7 of this Procedure.
4.10. If either the complainant or Member is not satisfied with the decision of the Complaints Officer in respect of 4.9 above, he/she should state the reasons in writing within 10 working days of the decision and request that the matter be submitted to the concerned authority which will consider the complaint on the basis of the evidence submitted.
The decision the concerned authority will be considered and can be applied on the basis of the evidence submitted.