Complaints procedure

As adopted by March 2019 Committee meeting

If you have a complaint about the Pagan Federation or one of our officers, please contact our Advocacy Officer.

1. Scope ALL members of the Pagan Federation are subject to this Disciplinary Procedure.  Complaints shall be investigated in compliance with this procedure (there is no separate Complaints Procedure)
2. Offences Any Pagan Federation member can be subject to disciplinary action if they deliberately or accidentally:
1.        Act in any way contrary to the aims of Pagan Federation, or
2.        Act in any way that interferes with the Pagan Federation in the pursuit of its aims, activities, business, or in the running of its meetings, or
3.        Act in any way that could bring the Pagan Federation into disrepute, or
4. Act in contravention of any properly enacted Pagan Federation provision, rule, regulation or code currently in force.
3. Misconduct, neglect and incompetence
3.1    Any Pagan Federation officer may be subject to disciplinary action if they:

1.         Deliberately or accidentally fail to carry out their duties in an appropriate manner and in accordance with the provisions of their job descriptions or the Constitution;
2.         Deliberately or accidentally act in excess of the powers and authorities delegated to that officer;
3.         Deliberately refuse to carry out legitimate instructions issued through the appropriate Pagan Federation channels;
4.         Fail repeatedly to attend sufficient of the required meetings necessary for proper execution of their officer role;
5.         Carry out their duties in a manner involving partiality or favouritism.
6.         Infringe any part of the code of conduct applying to officers

3.2     If any member of the Committee is found guilty of a serious breach of conduct, they shall be disbarred from standing for office for a period determined by the disciplinary decision.
4. Exceptions to misconduct
4.1.     No Pagan Federation officer may be charged with misconduct for refusing to execute instructions which are contrary to, or fall outside of, the provisions of the officer’s job description or Constitution, which are illegal, or which are manifestly impossible or contrary to their health.
4.2     No Pagan Federation officer may be charged with misconduct if they have timeously informed their line manager of reasonable grounds which may affect their ability to perform their duties as specified and not obstructed any attempts by their manager to replace them or otherwise resolve the problems caused by that infirmity.
5. Assumption and proof All shall be considered innocent until found guilty of any charge brought against them under the provisions of this disciplinary procedure. The level of proof required shall be the balance of probabilities.
6. Gravity and malicious prosecution This disciplinary procedure shall not be used in pursuit of trivial complaints or malicious or vindictive prosecution. To do so wastes valuable Pagan Federation resources and itself constitutes an offence through interference.
Level of offence
•          Minor misconduct:     Persistent problems of a procedural nature, such as delays or other paperwork failures, and minor breaches of the Code of Conduct. These are unlikely to trigger the Disciplinary process and will be dealt with by the appropriate line manager. LO will log the problem and when dealt with. If the further minor misconduct arises subsequently, (whether or not of the same nature), the LO will decide whether the complaints procedure will be used. Complaints of minor misconduct will be retained for no longer than one year, unless the problem involves discrimination or harassment on the grounds of sex, race, religion, age or disability, in which case the records are retained for 6 years from the date the complaint is settled.
•          Serious misconduct:     Anything that is neither minor nor gross. The complaints procedure is triggered but the less serious within this category should be completed as a paper review, where there is sufficient evidence to allow that. That will be the decision of the LO. Records will be retained for three years, unless the problem involves discrimination or harassment on the grounds of sex, race, religion, age or disability, in which case the records are retained for 6 years from the date the complaint is settled. If personal injury to any officer or member is involved, records are to be retained for 12 years from the date the complaint is settled.
•          Gross misconduct:     E.g. deliberate destruction of PF property, theft of PF funds, criminal judgement for destruction of sacred sites, bodily harm of PF members, serious discrimination or harassment of PF members. Gross misconduct is cause for immediate suspension of duty pending use of the C&D code. Records are retained for 6 years from the date the complaint is settled. If personal injury to any officer or member is involved, records are to be retained for 12 years from the date the complaint is settled.
7. Terms
7.1     The term ‘complainant’ shall apply to the person bringing a charge, and the term ‘defendant’ shall apply to the member or officer so charged. The term ‘Liaising Officer’ (LO) shall apply to a Pagan Federation officer who is neither ‘defendant’ nor ‘complainant’, selected from the following in order of preference according to their lack of personal involvement in the case: (Unless personally involved the LO will normally be the Complaints Manager)
•          Complaints Manager
•          Advocacy Officer
•          A Vice President
•          Another committee member selected by the President (or by Advocacy Officer if the President is Complainant or defendant)
8. Disciplinary Procedure The complainant shall submit to the Advocacy Officer a written charge (either in hard copy to the main PF postal address or to for consideration within 30 days of the alleged offence, or of the discovery of the alleged offence – or longer under extenuating circumstances.  If Advocacy Officer is the subject of the complaint the matter shall be submitted to the President 
The written charge MUST describe the Complaint fully, pointing out what elements of the code or conduct of disciplinary procedure the complaint is made under, provide contact details for the Complainant and contact details of witnesses willing to support this complaint – the complaint should obviously also make very clear who it is against.
Upon receipt Advocacy Officer shall consider the complaint and if the Advocacy Officer feels that there is a complaint to be answered, the complaint shall be submitted to the LO who shall consider whether or not the disciplinary process should be invoked.  
If the Advocacy Officer feels that there is no complaint to be answered then the complainant must be informed within 30 days of the Advocacy Officer’s receipt of the complaint – this correspondence shall be copied to the President.
In cases concerning an officer, the LO shall liaise with the relevant Line Manager concerning the seriousness of the charge, or with the Senior Vice President if charge is against the President.
If the LO decides against invoking the process then the Complaints Manager MUST inform the Complainant explaining why within no longer than 30 days of receipt of the complaint.
This correspondence shall be copied to the Advocacy Officer.
If the LO decides to invoke the process the disciplinary procedure shall be as detailed below. 
8.1 Appointment of Disciplinary Panel
1.        The Liaising Officer shall appoint a Disciplinary Panel to process the complaint.
2.        The Complainant & Defendant MAY NOT be on the Disciplinary Panel.
3.        The Disciplinary Panel shall consist of the LO plus not less than two and not more than three officials of the Pagan Federation.
4.        If complaint is against an officer of the PF the official’s line manager will be expected to be on the panel provided that they are neither Complainant or Defendant – in which case the next Line Manager will be on the panel. If the President is Complainant or Defendant the senior Vice President will be expected to act on the panel in place of the President.
5.        The choice of other officers to form the panel will be at the discretion of the LO and will be based upon their impartiality with regard to the complaint. 
6.        Where an official of the PF is requested to form part of the panel, they are expected to do so unless there is a sensible reason to fail to do so.
7.        LO shall update both sides of the matter on the progress on a fortnightly basis.
8.2 Suspension Regardless of the provisions above about assumption and proof, the Disciplinary Panel shall have the right to consider the seriousness of the charges brought against any member or officer and determine whether or not that person be suspended from their duties, rights or privileges pending completion of the process.
8.3 Notification of the defendant The defendant shall be informed by the LO of the charge within 10 days of LO appointing the Panel. If the Disciplinary Panel has seen fit to suspend the defendant then the Defendant shall also be so notified at this time.
8.4 Submission of defence The defendant shall be given at least 10 days (following 8.3) to provide a written reply to the Disciplinary Panel in answer to the charge. A longer time may be specified at the discretion of the Disciplinary Panel but in no case longer than 30 days (following 8.3).
8.5 Extra Evidence If the Disciplinary Panel considers it necessary, they may at their sole discretion call for statements from witnesses and gather other sources of evidence as they see fit in order to ensure a complete and fair consideration of the case – in no case shall gathering of additional evidence take longer than 30 days (following 8.3)
8.6 Hearing At their sole discretion, the Disciplinary Panel may call for a hearing for the defendant, the complainant, and any relevant material witnesses to give evidence in person to the Disciplinary Panel. The Disciplinary Panel shall not call either the complainant or the defendant without also calling the other. At any such disciplinary hearing, both the defendant and the complainant shall each have the right to be accompanied at the hearing by a single representative or supporter who may question evidence relevant to the charges to be considered. No other persons have the right to attend. The Disciplinary Panel shall exercise discretion as to whether any other persons shall be permitted to attend.
8.8 Verdict The Disciplinary Panel shall decide the outcome of the case within 5 days of all the available evidence being acquired and all the arguments being heard. They have the right to choose to do this in closed session.
8.7 Oaths All Pagan Federation members giving written or spoken evidence in a disciplinary case, whether as defendant, complainant, or witness, shall do so under the Pagan oath.
8.9 Charge proven If the Disciplinary Panel finds the charge proven, they shall impose a penalty commensurate to the offence, taking into account whether or not the offence was deliberate or accidental.
8.10 Charge not proven If the Disciplinary Panel finds the charge not proven, any suspension of the defendant shall be lifted unless the Panel finds there is another charge to answer. The Disciplinary Panel shall also have the right and duty to decide whether or not the original charge was a malicious prosecution and, if they so find, to impose a penalty commensurate to that offence on the original complainant.
8.11 Penalties Penalties imposed by the Disciplinary Panel may include:
1.        Suspension of a member’s rights to attend Pagan Federation meetings, functions or events for a predetermined time or until conditions determined by the Disciplinary Panel have been fulfilled;
2.        Suspension of a member’s Pagan Federation membership for a predetermined time or until conditions determined by the Disciplinary Panel have been fulfilled;
3.        Expulsion of the member from the Pagan Federation for life;
4.        Removal of the Pagan Federation officer from the post that they occupied;
5.        Debarment from holding specific officer posts, or all officer posts, either for a predetermined time, or until conditions determined by the Disciplinary Panel have been fulfilled, or for life;
6.        The issue of a private censure of the member by the Disciplinary Panel.
8.12 Records The Disciplinary Panel has a duty to record their proceedings accurately. The Defendant and Complainant may be allowed access to these, subject to the restrictions placed upon the release of such information by the Data Protection Act, at reasonable times during consideration of the case.  
The Disciplinary Panel has a duty to record their proceedings accurately. The Defendant and Complainant may be allowed access to these, subject to the restrictions placed upon the release of such information by the Data Protection Act, at reasonable times during consideration of the case.
8.14 Appeal Adjudicator
1.         The Liaising Officer shall appoint an Appeal Adjudicator to process the appeal.
2.         No person who is the subject of, or who is initiating a disciplinary action or who was a member of the disciplinary panel may serve as an Appeal Adjudicator.
3.         The Appeal Adjudicator shall be of the Pagan Federation Committee.
8.13 Appeals All defendants and complainants shall have the right to appeal against the decision of a Disciplinary Panel. They must do so in writing within 5 days of being notified of the verdict and must do so under oath of truth. The only valid grounds for appeal are:
1.         That the Disciplinary Procedure was not conducted in accordance with these rules;
2.         That the Disciplinary Panel was unaware of, or failed to take into account significant facts pertaining to the complaint which were already in its possession, or, that significant facts have come to light since the hearing or other decision. Such facts are to be included in the written appeal;
3.         That a penalty imposed was not commensurate with the offence.
8.15 Appeals Process The Appeal Adjudicator shall consider the written appeal together with the records of the case and come to a decision within 5 days.
8.17 Confidentiality All officers and members involved in this procedure have a duty of confidentiality.
1.        Neither the complainant nor the defendant, nor witnesses who may be called to give evidence should discuss the case with each other, or people who might know those involved in the case (outside of their own family or those permitted to accompany them to hearings within this procedure);
2.        Any officers involved in this procedure should only discuss the case with each other, and where strictly relevant to discharging their role in the procedure.
8.16 Appeal verdict The Appeal Adjudicator shall have the power to overturn or maintain the verdict of the Disciplinary Panel and the power to quash, reduce, maintain or increase any penalty.
8.19 Delays It is the duty of the Liaising Officer to ensure that:
1.        As far as possible, a decision by a Disciplinary Panel shall have been made on any complaint within 60 days of its notification to the PF or, in any case, within 90 days.
2.        Where it is not possible to keep to this timetable, the Liaising Officer informs the President and these two will decide whether a new Disciplinary Panel should be set up, or, if not, what information to be given the defendant and complainant for the extraordinary delay.
8.18 Communication A defendant or complainant shall be informed at each stage of the procedure, of the stage reached and the estimated time it will take to reach a decision. If, for any reason, this estimate needs to be altered, the parties should be informed of this, and a new estimate given. Due to the need for confidentiality, a reason may only be given for any delay with the permission of the person who has caused it.
8.20 Criminal Charges Where a criminal investigation is involved, this procedure shall be suspended until that investigation is complete. The PF may, at its discretion, suspend the member or officer concerned until the criminal investigation is complete.
9. Fast Track Disciplinary Procedure To be used where a Line Manager has clear cut demonstrable evidence that a volunteer, whom they manage, is failing in their role without an exemption (Section 5) to said misconduct applying. This procedure is in place to cope with situations where a volunteer’s behaviour is completely unacceptable and prompt action needs to be taken to avoid the PF coming into disrepute.  This procedure is NOT to replace the processes above, simply it is to provide a governed way to remove an officer from their role in a prompt and fair manner.  
9.1       A manager is expected in the first case to talk with their staff and educate them to the misconduct for which he or she has evidence of. One CANNOT use this process without first having attempted to mediate the problem & one MUST have a written record of the attempt giving the member of staff at least 21 days to improve.
9.2       If an improvement is NOT made the manager should copy the evidence & record of warning to his or her Line Manager (the Senior Line Manager).  If the manager raising the issue is the President then the Complaints Manager shall act in the stead of this Senior Line Manager.
9.3       The Senior Line Manager shall look at the evidence and the warning.  If the managers are in agreement then the Senior Manager shall either:
9.3.1    Write to the volunteer and explaining why and in reference to the evidence and the warning instruct them that they are being removed from their role.
9.3.2    Choose to write to the volunteer giving them a further 21 days to improve or they will be removed from their role. 9.3.3    If the senior manager is unsure of the correct course of action then they must consult with the Complaints Manager as soon as is possible.
9.4       If the volunteer chooses to appeal that is his or her right BUT their complaint will NOT change their removal from the role unless their Complaint is upheld.
9.5       Any Manager or Senior Manager found to have been abusing this fast track procedure will be held accountable under the disciplinary procedure with the charge being one of GROSS MISCONDUCT and if found guilty they will face the punishment of not being able to hold the role of an OFFICIAL within the PF FOR LIFE.
9.6       This process cannot be used to remove the President of the PF as management structures to not exist to govern such a removal.
10. Date for next review of this document:   March 2021