Dispute and Complaints Policy and Procedure
IZAUK follows the forms and practices of the Soto Zen tradition, and elder practitioners take positions of responsibility, guidance and leadership – both formally and informally. We encourage those who practice with us, both new and more experienced, to share both positive experiences and concerns that arise. At times, as in all communities, conflicts can occur and things might not go how someone ‘wants’. Part of the practice is to work through this, in relationship with others in the community, and at times to accept things and other people as they are. However, this traditional approach is not an excuse for abuse of positions of authority, nor for anyone involved with the practice to behave in an inappropriate way towards others. IZAUK has a procedure to deal formally with concerns and complaints when an individual feels it is appropriate to do so.
This procedure has been devised by IZAUK’s Board of Trustees in order to ensure that everyone knows how to express concerns and how a complaint or dispute will be handled.
All complaints will be taken seriously and dealt with consistently and fairly within clear timescales.
Complainants will be treated with respect and consideration throughout the process.
If the complainant is not happy with the result of the response to the complaint, they will have the right to appeal.
What is a complaint
A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction, either written or spoken. A complaint can be made by an individual or a group. You may wish to complain if you are not satisfied with the way you have been treated individually, you feel that the behaviour of a practitioner is inappropriate, or if there are any issues concerning how the organization is being run.
There are 3 stages to the procedure:
- Stage 1 – Informal
- Stage 2 – Formal
- Stage 3 – Appeal (in case of complaints)
Local group leaders are the first point of contact for most members and will be available to receive and process comments from members.
Where feedback is in the form of an oral complaint, local group leaders will try to resolve this quickly and satisfactorily with all individuals concerned. This may be with the assistance of another group leader from the same group or a neighbouring group.
The complainant should be advised that if they are not satisfied with the outcome they may submit their complaint in writing within 14 working days and progress to Stage 2.
Informal feedback will be noted by group leaders and monitored at regular IZAUK committee meetings.
Members who wish to submit their feedback in writing should do so to the Chair of the Board of Trustees (or Secretary if the complaint is about the Chairperson) by email or by letter marked private and confidential) outlining the details of the complaint. Contact details of the chair and secretary are available on the IZAUK website. Receipt will be acknowledged within 14 days by letter containing name and contact details of the person who will investigate the complaint and information about any support available where appropriate (complainants may wish to involve an advocate, friend or someone else to provide support at any stage).
Complaints will be investigated and considered by a panel of 3 IZAUK trustees, led by the Chairperson, and 2 others appointed by the Chairperson, based on availability and the nature of the complaint. If the complaint involves the Chairperson, the Secretary will act in their stead.
The panel may need to contact the complainant to clarify the issues, conduct the investigation and explore resolution.
The outcome, and any actions taken will be communicated in writing within 2 months. If more time is required to undertake the investigation, this will be notified in writing within the 2 month period stating the reason and a final date for completion.
Complainants have the right of appeal against the decision of the panel. The appeal must be lodged within 10 working days of the decision and sent to the Chairperson (or secretary if the complaint is about the Chairperson).
An appeals panel, normally of 3 members, will be convened to consider the appeal. The Chairperson will be responsible for ensuring the panel is appropriately representative. Panel membership will be restricted to people who have had no previous involvement in the investigation and consideration of the complaint and will include one representative from outside the IZA(UK), such as a member of the committee or spiritual council of the AZI.
Members of the appeals panel will review the stage 2 investigation and respond within 2 months with the following information:
A decision about whether the complaint was upheld or not, and the reason for this
Any other action that may be taken in light of the complaint
The Chair of the Board of Trustees is responsible for the efficient operation and review of the complaints procedure and ensuring appropriate representation of all panels.
This procedure will be reviewed every 2 years.
The IZAUK secretary will ensure that a record of all complaints is maintained securely, in accordance with the Data Protection Act, and monitored at regular Trustee’s meetings.