Complaint Policy & Procedure
1 Policy Statement
Mitre Group Limited’s (hereinafter referred to as the “Company”) complaint handling policy and procedure has been created to meet general standards and requirements and complies with standard complaint handling procedures.
The aim of this policy is to ensure that all customer complaints, either written or verbal, are handled in a consistent and regulated manner and that further complaint incidents are mitigated and where possible, prevented. Where a customer has cause to complain, the complaints handling procedure will be followed in every instance and a record will be made of the complaint nature and details to help improve our services and reduce the occurrence of similar complaints.
Everyone who uses or considers using our services has a right to expect good service and fair and equitable treatment. This applies to the provision of information, advice and guidance to specific customers, or publicity, in advice of or during a service, and the service delivery itself.
The Company are committed to delivering a fair, open and clear process for complaints and ensure a satisfactory outcome for all customers who raise a complaint. We provide thorough staff training in our internal complaint handling procedures and support our staff in how to handle complaint situations in a face-to-face, written and/or telephone environment.
This policy sets out our intent and objectives for how we handle complaints, from offering a clear and approachable system for customers to complain, through to conducting root cause analysis on all complaints received to identify the cause, issues and corrective actions regarding the complaint, and to implement measures to prevent reoccurrences where applicable.
This policy applies to all staff within the Company (meaning permanent, fixed term, and temporary staff, any third-party representatives or sub-contractors, agency workers, volunteers, interns and agents engaged with the Company in the UK or overseas). This policy applies to all complaints outside of qualification assessment decisions for which there is a separate appeals process.
The Company's objectives are laid out below regarding customer complaint handling. For the purposes of this policy, a complaint is defined as any customer contact whereby a negative communication or outcome has occurred. The customer does not have to formally address their communication as an official complaint or to request a response for the Company to treat the incident as a complaint and to follow the related procedures.
The Company’s objectives for internal complaint handling are:
- To provide a fair complaints procedure which is clear and easy to use for anyone wishing to make a complaint
- To ensure that our complaints procedure is fully accessible so that people know how to contact us to make a complaint
- To make sure everyone at the Company knows what to do if a complaint is received
- To make sure all complaints are investigated fairly and in a timely way
- To gather information which helps us to improve what we do and how we do it
- To ensure that the person responsible for data protection (Appointed Person) is involved in any complaints relating to personal data
The Company’s objectives for the complaint handling process are:
- Complaints will be investigated and responded to within 8 weeks from the initial customer contact
- Customers will be sent a copy of the formal complaints procedure
- Complaint responses will always be provided in writing (unless the complainant makes a specific request for an alternate form of communication, which will be provided in addition to the written format)
- Complaint procedures will be available via the company website as well as upon written and/or verbal request
- All complaints will be investigated by a trained member of staff and a full outcome summary provided to Senior Management
- Complaint records will be used to revise company procedures and to improve communication and business practices where applicable
- Complainants are advised of their rights and provided with any relevant right to refer/lodge the complaint and the applicable contact details (ie FOS, FCA, ESFA, the ICO)
- The Managing Director (MD) has ultimate responsibility for the quality of our commercial services, and to ensure that policy and procedures are implemented via our Quality Manager (QM).
- The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) has ultimate responsibility for the quality of our funded programmes.
- The relevant Awarding Body has ultimate responsibility for the appeals against assessment decisions (See Qualifications Appeals Policy and Procedure).
- The QM will handle and investigate complaints, and ensure the MD is informed of all complaints
- A Senior Manager or representative from a Prime Contractor or the Education and Skills Funding Agency may be appointed to handle a complaint of a sensitive nature if circumstances require, for instance, if the complaint relates to the QM, or the complainant specifically requests this.
5.1 The Quality Manager
The Company has an appointed QM who is provided with the training and support to understand, investigate and respond to complaints of all types. Where the complaint involves personal data, the QM is assisted by the Appointed Person to ensure that the Regulation and laws are followed, and the individuals’ rights are exercised and complied with.
The QM can complete their complaint handling duties independently and without bias and each complaint is reviewed to ensure that there is no conflict of interest with the Appointed Person. If a conflict is identified (ie the complaint involves the investigating person) a deputy has been trained to handle the complaint.
The QM has full authority and internal credibility to ask questions, carry out investigations and interviews, obtain and analyse evidence, recommend policy and process changes and be involved in department functions for the purposes of complaint handling.
Contact: Mitre Quality Manager
Units 8-9 Riverside Business Centre
Tel: 01773 525406
6 Procedures & Guidelines
6.1 Raising a Complaint
Customers who request the Company’s complaint handling procedure will be provided a copy of the procedure by email, in a PDF format or in the post, and will be asked to raise their complaint in writing as soon as possible after the incident.
NOTE: Complaints are to be raised in writing, however verbal complaints will be accepted and dealt with as per the same procedures.
If a customer telephones the Company and wishes to raise a complaint, they should be passed through to a senior member of staff or the QM who will try to resolve the complaint then and there.
Even if the complaint is resolved at the time, the customer must still be offered the option of receiving the complaints handling procedure prior to ending the call and the call recording must be retained and logged in the complaints record.
6.1.1 Data Protection Related Complaints
Where a complaint is related to the processing of personal data, this policy ensures that the Company complies with the data protection laws and notification requirements.
Every individual has the right to lodge a complaint with the supervisory authority where they consider that the processing of personal data relating to them infringes the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or we have breaches data protection law. All individuals using our products or services and those employed by us are notified of this right via our Privacy Notice, in our complaint handling procedures and in our information disclosures.
The supervisory authority with which the complaint has been lodged, is responsible for informing the complainant on the progress and the outcome of the complaint, including the possibility of a judicial remedy where the supervisory authority does not handle a complaint or does not inform the data subject within three months on the progress or outcome of the complaint lodged.
6.1.2 Mitre’s Partners and Contractors
Where a complaint is related to an external organisation to Mitre, the complainant will be directed to the relevant body. If it is related to an assessment decision, the complainant will be provided with a separate procedure specifically for this purpose (Qualifications Appeals Policy and Procedure).
6.1.2 Complaints Related to Safeguarding and Discrimination
Complaints or issues relating to safeguarding and/or abuse of children or vulnerable adults will be dealt with in line with the Safeguarding and Prevent Policy and Procedure.
Complaints or issues relating to abuse, discrimination, harassment and bullying with relation to age, disability (which includes mental health and people diagnosed as clinically obese), race, religion or belief, gender, sexual orientation, gender reassignment (people who are having or who have had a sex change, transvestites and transgender people), marriage and civil partnership, and pregnancy and maternity will be dealt with in line with the Equality and Diversity Policy.
6.2 Informal Complaint Resolution
The Company considers and responds to all complaints and issues, no matter how they are raised or what they refer to. Some issues and complaints we can resolve immediately or within a 3-working day timeframe and are referred to as informal complaints. Such instances are where an investigation is not required because the nature of the complaint is clear, and a resolution can be obtained without further review of the facts. Where we resolve a complaint within the timeframe, the details are still logged on our complaint register, and the complainant is still informed of their rights.
The Company takes every opportunity to resolve complaints at the first initial point of contact where feasible and possible. Informal resolution is always attempted where the issues raised are straightforward and potentially easily resolved, requiring little or no investigation. Most face-to-face and telephone issues can be resolved in this manner, however, the complainant is always offered the option of making the complaint formal if the resolution is not to their satisfaction.
Where an informal complaint is received, it is acceptable for the point of contact or addressed employee to attempt to resolve the issue without involving the QM. However, any issue relating to data protection infringes or breaches, no matter how small or informal, are always brought to the attention of the Appointed Person.
Frontline staff are trained to deal with basic issues and informal complaint resolution and are aware of their obligations and the subsequent reporting lines. Such employees are equipped to attempt to resolve a complaint relevant to their area of service or expertise, wherever possible.
6.3 Timeframe for Informal Resolution
It is the aim of the Company to resolve informal complaints immediately, or at least within the first 24-hours. Such complaints and issues will have a quick, but informative response and do not need to have an investigation or enter the formal complaint process.
No matter how small or informal the complaint, if a satisfactory resolution has not been achieved within 3 working days of the complaint being raised or identified, the issue is passed to the QM to enter the formal complaint process.
6.4 Responding to a Complaint
Where an official complaint has been received or the informal complaint was unable to be resolved at the frontline point of contact, a written acknowledgement is sent to the customer within 3 working days. The response should detail the complaint handling procedure and provide approximate timelines and expectations for the investigation and future responses.
A trained manager, the Appointed Person of the QM are the only staff members who should respond to customers regarding their complaints.
6.5 Investigating the Complaint
The designated employee will be assigned the role of investigating complaints and will gather all necessary documents, recordings and information to make an independent review of the incident.
If internal interviews are to be conducted, a note taker will be present alongside the investigator and interviewee and a copy of the interview notes will be written up and signed by the interviewer and interviewee prior to them being added to the complaint history.
All investigations must take place with 6-weeks of the initial complaint being received so that a final response (decision letter) can be sent to the customer within our designated 8-week period.
Investigations must utilise all the facts and any previous, related information to produce an unbiased outcome and an expected course of action. A complaint reference should be assigned and all documents relevant to the complaint should have the referenced written on them for continuity.
The reference will also be added to the Complaints Register so that complaint and document can be audited and traced back in the future.
All employees are provided with clear guidelines of when a complaint is formal and requires an appropriate investigation. Complaints must be referred to the QM and/or Appointed Person where: -
- The complainant has requested such a referral or investigation
- The complaint involves any type of personal data issue
- The informal complaint resolution stage failed or was inappropriate
- There is a conflict of interest between the complainant and an employee
- The issues are complex and require an investigation
- The complaint represents a high or serious risk to the company
- The facts are unclear, or the complaint will require additional time to resolve
- The complainant is identified as being vulnerable
- There has been any media contact or attention
- Child protection issues are involved (these will be referred to the Lead Designated Safeguarding Officer – See Safeguarding and Prevent Policy and Procedure)
- The issues do or may affect more customers (whether identified or not)
6.6 Decision Letter
After the complaint has been investigated in full and an outcome and action decision has been reached, the investigator or QM will draft a final response letter to the customer with their findings and decision regarding any action(s) to be taken or compensation awarded.
The final response must be sent within 8 weeks of the initial response being raised and will also specify the complainant’s right to appeal with details of the procedure or appropriate body (where applicable) should the customer be unhappy with the decision received.
- For complaints related to personal data and/or breaches of the data protection laws and regulations, the final response will reiterate the complainants right to lodge a complaint with the supervisory authority (the Information Commissioners Office) and will detail the ICO’s telephone number and address, along with the possibility of seeking a judicial remedy.
If a complainant is still dissatisfied after the complaint has been dealt with, they may contact the MD to appeal for further remedy or to make higher level representation to the Prime Contractor or ESFA. For a higher level representation, the complainant will be provided with relevant contact details.
Appeals must be made in writing unless there is some compelling reason not to.
The MD will consider the appeal and undertake to respond within a further 15 working days.
Nothing in this Procedure shall prejudice any statutory rights an individual or customer may have in law. Should a complaint relate to assessment decisions for qualifications, please refer to our separate Qualifications Appeals Policy and Procedure.
7 Complaint Recording
All complaints, whether formal or informal, are recorded on a Customer Complaint Register. The register should consist of the below information and should be audited on a frequent basis to ensure that incidents are not being repeated and improvements are being made.
- Nature of Complaint
- Complaint Reference
- Lead Investigator
- Decision Letter Sent (Y/N)
- Date Complaint Closed
The log is made available to any relevant authority, ombudsman or body who relates or oversees the firm’s complaints, as well as being made available with the local Trading Standards should a representative work alongside the organisation.
7.1 Patterns and Analysis
The complaint log is reviewed monthly by the QM to identify any patterns or reoccurring issues. The Company is dedicated to improving our performance, services and functions through the auditing of our complaint records and our investigation process. Where gaps or patterns are identified, we put corrective actions and mitigating solutions into place as soon as possible and keep the function, process or person under a weekly review until a satisfactory improvement is noted.
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