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Talking to staff being complained about

If a person making a complaint identifies the staff member who they are complaining about and wants you to talk to them, meet with them as soon as possible.

Fair treatment for all is paramount, and staff's rights should be respected.

When you talk to them:

  • give accurate details of the complaint
  • listen to their version of events
  • be aware they may also be feeling anger, fear, distress, discomfort, frustration, powerlessness
  • make no judgements
  • state your policies and procedures
  • inform them that any breach is against the law
  • ask them to agree that discrimination and harassment are unacceptable
  • advise them of any potential discipline if such behaviour has happened
  • advise that even without intention, offence has been taken and it needs resolving
  • discuss any action to resolve the complaint
  • inform them that they have a right to seek support, such as from their union
  • advise them of the need for confidentiality
  • advise them that staff have a right to complain and can't be victimised.

Ask them what they would consider to resolve the problem.  Are they willing to:

  • stop the behaviour
  • guarantee it will not happen again
  • apologise
  • meet to resolve the problem
  • be counselled or trained?

If they deny the behaviour, or are not willing to meet to resolve the problem, explain that you will put their version of events to the person complaining.

Tell them you may need to seek more information, which could include interviewing witnesses.

Let them know that they can seek independent advice.

For more information on how to talk to your staff, see communication skills.

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