UK Central Government Complaint Standards

Being thorough and fair

An effective complaints system makes sure colleagues take a thorough, proportionate and balanced look into the issues raised in a complaint. It gives service users fair and open answers to their questions based on the facts, and takes full accountability for mistakes identified.

  • Organisations make sure all relevant colleagues have the appropriate level of training, skills, and authority to look into complaints thoroughly.
  • Organisations make sure all colleagues who look at complaints have the appropriate resources, support and protected time to do so in order to meet these expectations consistently.
  • Colleagues actively listen and demonstrate a clear understanding of what the key issues are for the service user making the complaint, and the outcomes they seek.
  • Colleagues will discuss timescales with key parties involved and will agree how they will be kept informed and involved. Colleagues provide regular updates throughout.
  • At all times, colleagues look for ways they can resolve complaints at the earliest opportunity.
  • Colleagues make sure key parties involved (including colleagues specifically complained about) know how they will look into the issues. This includes what information complaints colleagues will need, who they will speak to, who will be responsible for providing the final response and how they will communicate their findings.
  • Colleagues make sure key parties involved in a complaint have the opportunity to give their views and respond to emerging information where appropriate. Colleagues act openly and transparently and with empathy when discussing this information, making sure they take everyone’s comments into account.
  • When a complaint does not suit early resolution and needs detailed consideration or a formal investigation, this is done fairly. Where possible, organisations make sure they assign complaints to colleagues who have had no prior involvement or who have no actual or perceived conflict of interest. Where this is not possible, colleagues take clear steps to demonstrate how they have looked at the issues fairly.
  • In complaints that involve multiple organisations, the organisations involved work together to deliver a co-ordinated and comprehensive response and ensure learning from complaints.
  • Organisations publish a complaints procedure that meets the Complaint Standards and all relevant government guidance. Each procedure clearly sets out how colleagues will handle complaints and which quality standards and behaviours they are expected to follow when doing so.