Making a formal complaint about a minister’s or former minister’s behaviour: updated procedure

Updated procedure for civil servants making a complaint about a Scottish Government minister or former Scottish Government minister.

Principles of the procedure

A complaint of this nature is a grievance. The procedure provides for grievances within scope to be addressed and, where possible, resolved, in line with statutory guidance.

The procedure will not be used to deal with issues arising from the application of other SG policies or procedures, for example informal resolution and mediation, without the express consent of the complainer. Similarly, the procedure will not be used to deal with complaints made under the Civil Service Code which relate or refer to the behaviour of a Minister or former Minister without the express consent of the complainer.

The expectation is that a formal complaint will be raised without unreasonable delay. There is no time limit for making a complaint of harassment. There is a time limit of six months for making a complaint of bullying or other unwanted conduct. Such complaints will normally only be taken forward using this procedure if made within six months of the alleged behaviour or within six months of any informal dispute resolution processes concluding (including mediation).

If a complaint of bullying or other unwanted conduct is made outwith the time limit, there will be a consideration of available information before a decision is made on whether it would be equitable to take forward the complaint using this procedure notwithstanding that a complaint is made outwith the time limit. It may be the case that a complaint made may not be taken forward under this procedure if it is no longer possible to investigate it fairly and effectively because of the passage of time.

All parties involved in the process are expected to be respectful and engage positively with the process to resolve the complaint, and to maintain confidentiality at all times – including when the process has concluded.

The need to maintain confidentiality does not affect the right of any member of staff to be protected from detriment because they have made a qualifying disclosure (sometimes called whistleblowing) within the meaning of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA). 

Staff should act in good faith when raising a complaint under this procedure and should represent the facts truthfully, and in line with our Standards of Behaviour. 

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