Publication - Advice and guidance

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

Published: 13 Jan 2022
Directorate:
People Directorate

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

Making a formal complaint about a minister’s or former minister’s behaviour: updated procedure
Stage 1

Stage one of the procedure - initial contact and assessment

The complainer will set out their complaint in writing providing:

  • details of the complaint, giving specific instances and details of witnesses if appropriate
  • what has been done to informally resolve the issue if appropriate, and if nothing has been done, explaining why this could not address the concerns
  • how they would like to see matters resolved

The SG nominated contact, who will have had no prior involvement with any aspect of the matter being raised, and no close association with the complainer or the subject of complaint, will acknowledge receipt of the complaint.

The SG nominated contact will carry out initial checks in relation to whether the complaint is in scope of this procedure. Where a complaint of bullying or other unwanted conduct is made outwith the time limit this stage will include an assessment of any relevant information and whether it would be equitable to take forward the complaint using this procedure notwithstanding that a complaint is made outwith the time limit.

Where the complaint is in scope of the procedure and is capable of being investigated, the decision will be to investigate further. Once the SG nominated contact has confirmed this decision, they will inform the complainer of this.

Where the decision at stage 1 is not to investigate and not to proceed under this procedure, the SG nominated contact will arrange for a meeting with the complainer to inform them. The meeting will be arranged without unreasonable delay, giving at least five working days’ notice to the complainer and informing them that they may be accompanied by a trade union representative or work colleague. The SG nominated contact will arrange for a note taker to be present at the meeting to keep a factual record of the discussions that take place.

After the meeting, the SG nominated contact will notify the complainer by letter that the complaint will not be considered further under this procedure, and include the written notes of the meeting. 

A support contact will be offered to the complainer who may offer support to consider alternative resolution to their issues.

Where an investigation is to be carried out, the SG nominated contact will notify the subject of complaint that a complaint has been received which will be investigated (letting the complainer know when the subject of complaint has been notified). The SG nominated contact will notify the Permanent Secretary or a delegate by providing a summary of the complaint, the initial checks carried out, and any other information relevant to the decision that the complaint will be investigated.

The SG nominated contact will establish a support contact for all parties involved in the process.

Where a complaint that will be investigated is about a current Minister, the Permanent Secretary or delegate will inform the First Minister that a complaint has been received and provide a summary of the issues considered in the decision taken to investigate further. Where a complaint that will be investigated is about the current First Minister, the Permanent Secretary or a delegate will inform the Deputy First Minister.