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Complaints, Reports & Publications, Research

Being Complained About: Good Practice Principles and Guidelines

By Chris Gill and Carolyn Hirst

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Being Complained About: Good Practice Principles and Guidelines

New guidance is being published today, which aims to help organisations provide better support to employees who have been subject to a complaint. Research shows that being complained about can significantly affect employees’ health, wellbeing, and work practice:

  • 71% of people complained about report their work practice being affected by a complaint
  • 67.2% of people complained about report their health and well-being being affected
  • 61.2% of people complained about report their attitude to service users being affected

In most cases, these effects are moderate, but for a significant minority (15%) they can be severe and involve illness, stress, anxiety, and reduced job performance. Negative effects are not confined to individuals but also affect future service provision: 66.7% of people complained about report becoming more cautious in their future dealings with the public.

Complaints processes have tended to focus on the needs of those complaining. Until now, the needs and interests of employees have been overlooked. Being Complained About – Good Practice Principles and Guidelines is a document which aims to address this by improving the way in which organisations support staff members who have been complained about.

The guidance sets out four principles for dealing with complaints about employees – fairness, confidentiality, transparency, and efficiency – and provides guidelines which organisations can draw on, amend, and incorporate into their existing policies. The guidance includes a set of accompanying notes and summarises the research evidence underpinning the guidelines.

The guidelines have been developed by Carolyn Hirst and Chris Gill and can be accessed by clicking here.

The guidelines are available as a free resource, although we would be grateful if you could acknowledge having drawn on them if you choose to adopt or adapt the guidelines within your organisation. We are tracking the impact of the guidelines and we would also be grateful if you could email chris.gill@glasgow.ac.uk to tell us if you have found them useful and if you decide to use them in your organisation.


Chris Gill is a socio-legal academic at the University of Glasgow and Carolyn Hirst is a professional mediator at Hirstworks and an independent administrative justice researcher. 


About UK Administrative Justice Institute

Funded by the Nuffield Foundation, we link research, practice & policy on administrative justice in the UK



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