Complaints procedure

If you are unhappy and wish to make a complaint, our complaints procedure is as follows:

1. Purpose of the policy

This procedure is concerned with complaints made against Family Mediation Jersey (FMJ) staff, mediators or committee members.

2. Principles

I. The opportunity to make a complaint or grievance is an essential right for all those who use or deliver the services provided by FMJ.  Complaints can be a valuable way of evaluating and improving our services and of ensuring they are responsive to the needs and preferences of users.

II. FMJ’s complaints procedure is intended to be speedy, effective and easily understandable. To ensure fairness, any investigation required will be carried out by someone who was not directly involved with the incident relating to the complaint. Any member of staff, mediator or committee member against whom a complaint is made, will be given the fullest opportunity to answer any criticisms.

III. FMJ recognises making a complaint can be difficult and stressful for the complaintant and for the person against whom a complaint is made. At any stage either party may seek the help of an independent advocate for assistance and support.

IV. Every effort will be made to try and resolve any problem as soon as possible with the person concerned as set out in section 3 below.

V.  FMJ will respect the confidentiality of both the complainant and any person complained about, subject to the provisions of FMJ’s Confidentiality Policy. This states that, if a complaint is to be properly investigated and action taken as a result of the complaint, it may not always be possible to avoid a breach of confidentiality. The permission of the complainant will be sought for this but when the welfare of the complainant or other people is seriously at risk it may be necessary to breach confidentiality even if that permission is withheld.

VI. The outcome of all complaints and investigations will be reported in confidence to the committee and in writing to the complainant. An anonymised summary report may also be made available to the grant aid providers of FMJ services as part of the evaluation of these services. The complaint must be fully recorded, separately from the client file(s) in the FMJ complaints file.

VII. This procedure should be read in conjunction with other relevant FMJ policies such as the Confidentiality Policy and Disciplinary Policy.

VIII. FMJ will make efforts to ensure every user of its services is aware this procedure exists. The procedure is described below. Copies are available on request from FMJ.

3. Procedure

Informal (not by letter): informal discussion with the person concerned. The manager may be asked to help to resolve the complaint informally. The chairman should be made aware.

Formal (by letter): a formal complaint in writing should be sent as follows:

  • Complaint against a member of staff or a mediator: to the manager
  • Complaint against the manager: to the chairman
  • Complaint against a committee member: to the chairman
  • Complaint against the chairman: to the vice chairman, for the attention of the members of the committee
  • Complaint against a person or organisation whilst they are providing a service to FMJ: to the chairman

All letters of complaint should be marked “Private and Personal” and addressed to the correct official (as above) c/o Suite 7, Bourne House, Francis Street, St Helier, Jersey, JE2 4QE

The person who receives the complaint will carry out an investigation, or, where appropriate, appoint someone else to do so. If the complaint is against a mediator their Professional Practice Consultant (PPC) should be involved if appropriate.

The investigator will report the results in writing within four weeks to the complainant and the relevant members of staff.

If the complainant or the person about whom the complaint is made is not content with the results of this, they can then ask for the complaint to be referred to the appeal stage. The request should be made in writing to: FMJ Chairman, FMJ, c/o Suite 7, Bourne House, Francis Street, St Helier, Jersey, JE2 4QE

Appeal: On receiving the referral, the chairman will decide whether the complaint should proceed at this level. If he/she decides it should not, he/she will write to the complainant explaining why. If he/she deems that it should, the chairman will set up a panel to consider the complaint. (No new facts can be introduced at this point).

The panel will generally consist of three people. These will usually all be committee members, but the chairman may replace one or more of the committee members with people independent of FMJ if appropriate. The panel will aim to meet within 28 days, although this may take longer in complicated cases.

The panel will invite to the meeting the complainant and the person or persons against whom the complaint has been made. Any such person may be accompanied to the meeting by a friend or supporter or by an independent advocate.

The panel will report their decision and any recommendations or actions where appropriate, in writing to the complainant and to any persons against whom the complaint was made within 21 days.

In the unlikely event that a client contacts National Family Mediation (NFM) headquarters directly, they will be advised in the first instance to make contact directly with the relevant local service. NFM will only become involved in a complaint where local service procedures have been exhausted and the complainant is still dissatisfied. The role of NFM is only to audit the correct use of the complaints procedure rather than re-investigate the complaint.