Complaints may vary in severity and complexity. Not every complaint should be addressed in the same way, and staff should be provided both informal and formal ways to raise a complaint to best suit the circumstances of the issue.
Informal procedures are for quick problem-solving rather than investigating and substantiating claims. They seek agreement and shared understanding of how to avoid problems in the future. Informal complaints are most appropriate in cases where the allegations are less serious, or the problem is based on miscommunication or a misunderstanding. An employee has the right to pursue a formal complaint at any time.
Informal ways of dealing with complaints include:
For the employee with a complaint:
- Observing unacceptable behaviour and taking action directly, such as speaking to a colleague about their behaviour.
- Seeking advice from a supervisor, HR or union representative, or an equal opportunity contact person before taking direct action.
- Requesting that the employer address the situation.
For the employer:
- Speaking to the person about their behaviour (via a supervisor, HR or union representative or contact officer), and reaching an agreement immediately.
- Bringing the two sides together to conciliate, and the issue is resolved without investigation.
- Organising general staff training and discussions to promote discrimination and harassment policies.
Some informal solutions can be reached without the staff member even knowing a complaint has been made.
In the case that an informal solution does not result in a positive outcome, employees need to know they have the right to make a formal complaint or approach the Equal Opportunity Commission at any stage.