Complaint about a staff member's behaviour

Information about the management of informal and formal complaints by students about staff conduct.

Note that the processes below do not relate to matters that relate to perceived academic disadvantage which are covered by the University’s Academic Grievance Policy (PDF).

There are two options for complaints about a staff member's behaviour:

  • informal process/adaptable resolution pathways
  • formal process.

Informal process/adaptable resolution pathways

This is not a formal investigatory process that has a potential disciplinary outcome. Instead, the concerns would be raised with the staff member in an informal manner, to find an adaptable resolution pathway that meets your needs. An informal process can take many forms and it requires the co-operation of all parties.

Features of the informal process/adaptable resolution pathway

An informal process is reliant on the voluntary co-operation of all parties, and a commitment that all parties want to try and resolve the issues.

In consultation with Human Resources, consideration may be given to whether the below pathways are appropriate:

  • a restorative conference—you and the staff member have a facilitated meeting to work through what happened (there may be different perspectives), what the impact has been, and what can be done to repair and restore the relationship
  • a shuttled conference—where someone raises the issues on behalf of you then goes between you and the staff member to try and resolve the issue
  • a written restorative approach—the staff member could be provided your concerns in writing and have the opportunity to respond in writing.

Formal process

If the above option does not resolve the matter, and if you do not wish to follow an informal process with the staff member, or if an informal process would not be appropriate, you can outline all of your concerns about the staff member’s alleged conduct in writing.

This should include specific details including:

  • the name of the individual(s) involved,
  • relevant dates/time/places,
  • a description of what occurred,
  • any witnesses to the incident,
  • any documentation that may support their concerns, and
  • the impact the situation has had on you.

You can access a copy of the University’s Guidelines for Resolving Alleged Misconduct (PDF) and the Staff Conduct Policy (PDF).

You need to be mindful of the need for confidentiality to protect the privacy of all parties involved. If you have any questions or concerns about confidentiality, email the Complaints and Conflict Resolution Advisor.

Details of the formal process

The details that you provide will need to be provided to the staff member whose conduct you are complaining about, so that the staff member can understand the allegations being made against them and have a fair opportunity to respond. You will be informed before the complaint is provided to the staff member. Ensure you access any support you may need.

If the matter needs to be investigated, then it is likely that they you will need to meet with the person conducting the investigation. You are encouraged to bring a support person of your choice if this would help you feel comfortable.

Depending on the nature of the allegation, the complaint will usually be provided initially to the staff member’s manager or another senior manager of the University but may also be referred to Human Resources.

In consultation with Human Resources, the relevant manager will determine the appropriate process to follow in the circumstances. This will involve consideration of whether the alleged conduct could be considered a possible breach of the Staff Conduct Policy and, if established, whether it could be misconduct or serious misconduct.

If it is decided that the complaint does not fall within the scope of the Staff Conduct Policy (PDF), or is not a matter relating to the staff member’s employment then a formal process generally will not be commenced.

If the relevant manager forms the view that an informal process is not appropriate, then a formal process will be followed.

You will be informed once a decision has been made about how the complaint will be progressed.

Features of a formal process

See the Guidelines for Resolving Alleged Misconduct (PDF) for further details.

The relevant manager will take the following matters into account (in consultation with Human Resources):

  • Whether a formal investigation into the allegations is required and which allegations, if any, will be investigated.
  • Whether it is necessary to suspend the employee while the process is being undertaken.
  • Whether they, or any other person conducting an investigation, need to speak with you (with your representative or support person) to obtain any more relevant information.
  • Whether there are any other witnesses who need to be interviewed.
  • Whether there any safety concerns which need to be addressed.

Under the principles of natural justice, a copy of the complaint will be provided to the staff member who is being complained about to allow them to understand the complaint that has been made, and to respond. The staff member will be given a chance to give their side of the story, and if relevant to present any mitigating circumstances.

If the relevant manager (in consultation with Human Resources) decides that a disciplinary process is necessary, this will be conducted in accordance with the Guidelines for Resolving Alleged Misconduct (PDF) and the Staff Conduct Policy (PDF), and a disciplinary penalty may be imposed.

At the conclusion of a formal process you will be informed whether or not the complaint (or aspects of it) have been upheld, but you are not entitled to know what actions may have been taken against the staff member.

The University also has a Tikanga Maori process, which encourages a facilitated open exchange of views, with a view to seeking consensus and acceptance from all parties as to the resolution. Further information on this process is set out in the Guidelines document (PDF).