Preliminary Screening Process
Once a formal complaint is received, the preliminary screening panel will convene a meeting to conduct a preliminary screening of the detail contained within the complaint form.
Role of the Screening Panel
The role of the Screening Panel is to:
- To make a prima facie decision as to whether the alleged behaviour, which is the subject of the complaint, falls within the definition of bullying, harassment and/or sexual misconduct and the scope as outlined in Bullying and Harassment policy and Sexual Misconduct policy.
- To make recommendations in relation to the consideration of informal options where appropriate in the case of Bullying and Harassment as per the Bullying and Harassment policy and Code of Practice on Bullying 2021. Proceeding to a formal process should not be viewed as automatic and it is important that it is recognised that it is the reasonable evidence-based decision of management. This Code does not apply in the case of Sexual Misconduct. The Screening Panel however may also make recommendations relating to informal interventions in instances of Sexual Misconduct.
- To assess the impact of a delay on bringing a complaint forward on the likelihood of a fair investigation being carried out. The impact of the delay will need to be determined by the Screening Panel based on the information they receive as part of the formal complaint and they will consider the following:
- The circumstances of the alleged complaint
- The complexity of the alleged complaint
- The cause of the delay
- Possibility of prejudice to the respondent.
- To outline the reasons for their decision in writing and to recommend alternative appropriate University policy or procedure, if relevant, such as the UCD Grievance Procedure, Research Integrity Policy, Disciplinary Statute or Student Code of Conduct, for the complainant to consider if the complaint is not deemed to fall within the remit of the Bullying and Harassment and/or Sexual Misconduct policies. In this instance consideration will bi given to the fact that the individual has already completed a complaint form outlining the details of the incident(s). (The criteria that the screening panel will use to make this decision is outlined in appendix 1).
- If relevant, the Screening Panel may make a recommendation to the Chief People Officer and Director of SIRC and Legal Services or the Registrar that precautionary action should be considered, based on the information contained in the complaint form.
The Screening Panel Decision
The Screening Panel will make its decision based on the written complaint submitted but reserves the right to seek clarification from the complainant in relation to any aspect of their complaint and/or seek legal advice.
Where there is more than one University procedure (and/or policies) applicable to any one matter, this will be reviewed by the Screening Panel and they will decide which of the University procedures (and/or policies) should have priority or be the most appropriate in the circumstances and may direct the continuations of some procedures(s) (and/or policies) and the suspension of others pending the outcome of the former. Where a decision is made that not all issues raised in the complaint are deemed to be in scope of the Bullying and Harassment policy and Sexual misconduct policy, that will be shared with an investigator as part of the investigation process.
Decisions made by the screening panel are not a pre-determined outcome of the findings of an investigation. An Investigator may also make a finding that a complaint was not in scope having received further information not available to the Screening Panel.
What happens next?
- The Screening Panel will outline the reasons in writing for their prima facia decision to the EDI Unit. If the alleged behaviour is deemed to fall under the relevant definition(s) and scope, and informal options are deemed to be inappropriate by the Screening Panel, the Screening Panel will put the complaint forward
- The EDI Unit will then notify the complainant in writing of the outcome of the preliminary screening and key contacts going forward normally within 10 working days from the date of the complaint being received by the panel.
- If the panel has recommended informal options (in the case of a bullying or harassment allegation) as the most appropriate means of resolving the issue, a nominated person (member of the Screening Panel) will arrange a meeting with the complainant and respondent separately. The purpose of these meetings is to discuss the informal options available and the reasons as to why informal resolution is considered to be the most appropriate and effective means of resolving the issue(s). A note taker will also attend the meeting. The respondent will be notified of the complaint and provided with a copy of the formal complaint form, screening panel decision and these procedures at this point. The complainant and respondent will be provided with a written summary of the actions agreed following the meetings. The complainant and respondent must inform the EDI Unit (email@example.com) of their decision in writing in relation to their decision around proceeding with informal options within 3 working days of meeting with the member of the EDI Unit and their decision will be confirmed in writing.
- If informal resolution is proceeding, the formal investigation process will not commence to allow for informal resolution to be engaged with by the parties involved. If informal resolution is successful, then the complaint will be considered to be appropriately dealt with and both parties will be informed accordingly. If informal resolution is unsuccessful, the formal complaints investigation will commence.
- If there are mitigating factors as to why informal options are not appropriate, then the complaint will proceed to a formal investigation.
- If the complaint is put forward for formal investigation, a member from the Employee Relations Unit or Student Engagement, Conduct, Complaints and Appeals (SECCA) Unit, will be appointed as the UCD contact person for the complainant and respondent and they will manage the administration of the investigation process. They will receive the complaint in order for the formal investigation procedure to commence.
- The Respondent will then be notified within 3 working days and provided with the Complaint Form, the Policy, these Procedures and the written decision of the Screening Panel, if informal options were not recommended and therefore the respondent has not been provided with these documents previously.
- If the complaint is deemed not to come within the scope of the Policy, the complainant will be so informed by the EDI Unit and advised on the appropriate procedure for dealing with the matter if relevant. In this instance, the respondent will not normally be notified of the complaint and details of supports.