Complaints Policy & Procedure

Reviewed May 2019

We want to hear from people who are dissatisfied with the Advice Service.

Complaints help us to identify problem areas of service delivery and other issues and provide focus on improving practices.

All complaints will be handled in confidence and treated with regard to the RUSU Advice Service Confidentiality Policy.

Publicising our Complaints Procedure

The Advice Service Manager is responsible for ensuring that the Complaints Policy Statement is displayed in the ARC and in each adviser’s office in order to welcome complaints from users and is available online at rusu.co.uk/advice.

We will display the following Complaints Statement in the ARC and in each office used for Advice:

Unhappy with our Service?

RUSU Advice Service aims to provide a quality service that is acceptable to all our users. If we fail to do this, we want to know about it. This will enable us to deal with the specific complaint and prevent similar problems occurring.

We want to hear from you......

If you are not satisfied with any aspect of the RUSU Advice Service or have any suggestions for improvement, please talk to a member of the Advice Service Team.

We have a Complaints Procedure that you can use to raise a formal complaint. This can be found at www.rusu.co.uk/advice. Alternatively, ask RUSU Reception or a member of the Advice Service Team for a copy.

If you would like to talk to someone about our complaints procedure, please ask a member of the Advice Service Team, or speak to the Advice Service Manager.

Issues that can be dealt with through our Complaints Procedure

We define a complaint as any expression (written or verbal) of dissatisfaction by a client.

RUSU Advice Service will follow these procedures when we receive a complaint (or anything that sounds like a complaint) from a client, an organisation or member of the public. The complaint must relate to an aspect of the Advice Services for which we have direct responsibility.

Complaints may include (but are not limited to):

  • Service delivery e.g. client unable to access the service, unacceptable delay or problems with casework;
  • Incorrect or incomplete advice;
  • Poor delivery of a workshop or presentation provided by the Advice Service;
  • Disputes between service user and RUSU Student Advice Service, such as dispute relating to our policy, procedure or activities;
  • Discourtesy or unhelpfulness of staff.

Issues that cannot be dealt through our Complaints Procedure

This procedure does not handle complaints about other services provided by RUSU, for example, catering or nursery. You should refer to their Complaints Procedure.

Any complaints made by RUSU staff or RUSU volunteers or by job applicants will not be dealt with using this procedure. These will be handled through the RUSU Grievance and Disciplinary procedures or through the RUSU Recruitment procedures.

Our Complaints Procedure

Informal Stage

Raise your complaint with a member of the Advice Service (preferably within 5 working days of the matter which you wish to complain about occurring), who will try to resolve the matter quickly and informally. If you feel that you are unable to approach a member of the Advice Service directly, or you feel that the informal response received was unsatisfactory, go to Stage 1.

Stage 1

A complaint can be made in person, by telephone or in writing. You should describe the nature of your complaint and provide details.

Your complaint will be passed to a Complaint Handler as soon as possible. Stage 1 should be completed within 5 working days of receiving the complaint.

Where possible, the Advice Service Manager will be the Complaint Handler. Where a complaint is against the Advice Services Manager, usually their line manager - the Advice and Representation Manager - will handle the complaint. Where the complaint is against the Advice and Representation Manager, the same procedure will be followed but with an alternative member of staff substituting for the Complaint Handler’s role.

  1. You will be informed as to whom the Complaint Handler will be.
  2. You will be invited to discuss your complaint with the Complaint Handler. This can be done in person, by phone or email, whichever is most appropriate.
  3. The Complaint Handler will keep a record of the meeting, telephone conversation and any correspondence. The Complaint Handler will endeavour to resolve the matter.

If you remain dissatisfied or it has not been possible to use Stage 1, proceed to Stage 2.

Stage 2

The matter will be further investigated and this may include consulting with other parties.

  1. Either put your complaint in writing marked ‘Private and Confidential’ and addressed to the Complaint Handler. Provide as much detail of your complaint as possible and indicate what remedy you are seeking as a result of your complaint.

    Alternatively, ask to meet with the Complaint Handler or her/his nominee to discuss the issue. The Complaint Handler or nominee at this meeting will put your complaint in writing and asking you sign your agreement. A copy of this document will be kept for our records.

  2. If your complaint involves RUSU staff, the Compliant Handler should offer the staff member the opportunity to put forward their account in writing. A copy of this document will be kept by RUSU.
  3. The Complaint Handler will investigate the complaint and attempt to resolve it. The Complaint Handler may delegate any aspect of the investigation to a nominee.
  4. The Complaint Handler will decide an appropriate course of action and will ensure you receive a written response within 15 working days of your written complaint being received by RUSU.

    The written response should summarise the investigation and any action proposed to resolve the matter. This could include (but is not limited to):

    • A formal apology;
    • A statement of how systems will be changed in the future;
    • If your complaint is against a member of staff, that will be dealt with separately.
  5. A copy of the letter will be kept for our records. If response by letter is unsuitable, you will be offered an interview with the Compliant Handler. This meeting should be held within 15 working days as before. You will be asked to sign a written record of this meeting. A copy of this document will be kept for our records.

If you remain dissatisfied, you can request a review of the decision under Stage 3.

Stage 3

Your complaint is reconsidered. The decision made at this stage is final.

  1. Put your request for a review of the decision in writing to the Complaint Review Manager. In your letter, you should include reason(s) why you wish to proceed to the review stage and to state whether you would like to meet with the Review Manager. If you have requested a formal meeting, the Review Manager will arrange this.
  2. Where possible the Review Manager will be the Advice and Representation Manager or the Chief Executive.
  3. The Review Manager may seek further clarification from any of the parties involved. This includes any staff member(s) against whom the complaint has been made.
  4. If you meet, the Review Manager will take notes and you will be asked to sign a written record of this meeting. A copy of the meeting notes will be kept.
  5. The Review Manager will review the decision.
  6. The Review Manager will write to you with the outcome of the review and this decision is final. This will occur within 15 working days of having received complaint at Stage 3.
  7. A copy of this letter will be kept for our records.

Recording and Monitoring Complaints

All complaints will be recorded in the Complaints Log which is held by the Advice Services Manager. All correspondence relating to each complaint is kept on file.

Where a complaint is made, information will be fed via the Advice and Representation Manager to Management Committee concerning the complaint and the actions arising following the complaint.

The Advice Service Manager is responsible for convening an annual Complaints Review. At this meeting, Advice Services Manager and Advice and Representation Manager will review the nature of complaints received and how they were resolved. Further action to improve level and/or quality of our services may be identified and agreed upon during the review.

The Advice and Representation Manager will inform Management Committee of the review findings.

Ensuring effectiveness of the Policy

A copy of the Complaints Policy & Procedures in the Office Manual which is on the shared drive and available to all Advisers. Members of the Senior Management team are also provided with copies.

Staff that support the Advice Service are made aware of the Complaints Policy & Procedures. Training is given on the policy and procedures to new Advisers as part of an induction to the organisation or on-going training reviews when necessary.

The policy and procedures will be reviewed annually by the Advice Services Manager. Any amendments will be considered and agreed at the Complaints Review.

Contact the Advice Service

Services which operate within the Advice Service have separate sessions: see their individual pages for further info on how and when to access them.

Following the current situation with the coronavirus (COVID-19), RUSU staff have been asked to work for remotely for the foreseeable future. This includes the staff within the Advice Service.

As a result, the Advice Service is unable to offer face-to-face appointment or a drop-in service at the current time, but we are still able to offer advice to students.

If you would like some support from the Advice Service then please complete our Talk to us form. Alternatively, you can email the service on advice@rusu.co.uk

Please be assured that an Adviser will get in touch with you as soon as possible, and that we can still offer appointments via other methods (for example, via telephone, Skype or Microsoft Teams).