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Principles and process for informal concerns and complaints

The aim of this NCAS-wide process is to support early conversations about NCAS culture and staff relationships in order that our NCAS values can be upheld through working together to solve problems. The Active Bystander and Assertiveness in Communication training can increase staff confidence in highlighting concerns and prevent them from escalating.

Where concerns are highlighted early on, a less formal intervention would be appropriate, and where both parties agree, then the NCAS People Team will lead the process regardless of the host site. Support could include mediation for example. Please note this approach is completely voluntary and if you would prefer to go directly to Human Resources at your host institution that is entirely your choice.

Examples of concerns and complaints



A colleague has shouted/raised their voice towards you/another member of staff. This is the ideal time at which to approach a colleague for support. This concern can be raised by any member of staff who witnessed the incident. Colleagues may be able to provide support as ‘active bystanders.’

An escalation/continuation of concerning behaviour should be described as a complaint.



A colleague has repeatedly shouted/raised their voice against another member of staff. They may have already been challenged about their conduct.

Depending on the context, this issue could be addressed informally – with the consent of the complainant, or formally.



Alleged bullying, including being repeatedly shouted at by another colleague.

Informal process

This less structured approach is generally quicker and more likely to restore positive working relationships. It will provide both parties with the opportunity to have their concerns heard/share their feelings, with the aim of avoiding a stressful and combative process and agreeing a realistic way forward. If you are not sure about how serious an issue is please report it anyway to receive advice and support.

Step 1

Speak to your NCAS line manager/colleague for support, if appropriate, and as soon as possible. Your host institution HR team may also offer informal advice. For additional support see step 2.

Step 2

Contact the Head of People, EDI and Workforce Development or the Director of Operations to raise a concern/ask questions about available support in response to a specific issue.

Step 3

The Head of People or the Director of Operations will assess/discuss with you what should happen next. (For serious conduct issues the host institution formal process must be instigated).

Step 4

The Head of People or the Director of Operations will provide advice/support on next steps which may include a three-way meeting with the colleague being complained about. The agreement of both parties is needed for this to happen.

Step 5

Agreed intervention e.g: mediation.

Step 6

Resolution or referral to Human Resources at the host institution of the colleague being complained about.

Key principles

Both the colleague raising the concerns or complaint and the colleague being complained about should receive support through this process.

Informal complaints should be referred in the first instance to the Head of people, EDI and workforce development who will act as an impartial point of contact.

NCAS Directors should not be involved at the informal stage of a complaint process even if they are the line manager of the complainant as they may be invited to participate in a formal investigation should the issue escalate.

Non Executive Directors should not be involved in any complaints/grievances except to advise on policy/lessons learnt.

Where the complaint is about an NCAS Director this should come to the Head of People, EDI and Workforce Development to support an informal process where appropriate. The Head of People, EDI and Workforce Development will then consult with HR colleagues about invoking the relevant Host Institution policy if necessary.

Where the concern or complaint is about the Head of People, EDI and Workforce Development this should be raised with the Director of Operations.

If a resolution cannot be achieved by NCAS or the issue is a serious complaint such as bullying or harassment, then a formal referral will be made for investigation to the relevant host institution HR team, which will be the employer of the colleague being complained about. For access to the formal complaint process please contact the relevant host institution HR team.