If a candidate thinks the selection process was unfair and in breach of the Code of Practice, they can complain under Section 8 of the relevant code.

If it is found to have been unfair, the decision will not be reversed. However, changes may be made to the process to ensure future appointments are fair, consistent and transparent.

A complaint

Complaints are initially examined by the public body that carried out the selection process. It will review the process to see if it was in keeping with the Code of Practice.

There are two stages in the complaint process – informal and formal.

A complaint will usually be handled informally at first. If the candidate is still not satisfied, they can make a formal complaint.

However, sometimes you, or the candidate, may want it to be a formal complaint from the start. In such cases, both parties need to discuss and agree this.

When a candidate makes a complaint, they should say clearly how they believe the appointment process was unfair and the part or parts of the code they believe were breached. Otherwise, their complaint may be dismissed.

Informal complaint

A candidate should make their complaint to the human resources unit within a reasonable timeframe. On receipt of a complaint, you will appoint an informal reviewer - someone connected with the selection process.

The informal stage often involves a telephone conversation or a meeting with someone linked to the selection process, usually someone in human resources. This will give the reviewer and the candidate an opportunity to:

  • Discuss in greater detail why the candidate thinks the selection process was unfair and list the part or parts of the Codes of Practice they believe were breached
  • Talk about the procedures and the assessment process that led to the public body’s decision
  • Consider whether you still think there was a breach of the codes, having been given more information

The reviewer will make an initial decision about the fairness of the process and if there was a breach of the Code of Practice.

The public body will then decide if any action should be taken. If a candidate is not happy with the outcome of the informal complaint, they can make a formal complaint.

Formal complaint

A candidate must make a formal complaint within two working days of the outcome of the informal complaint. Candidates should make their complaint to the human resources unit.

The public body will appoint an independent reviewer – someone not linked to the selection process. They will examine the information available. They may also meet members of the selection board to discuss aspects of the selection or the assessment process.

The reviewer will decide if the selection process was fair or in breach of the codes. If the process is found to be unfair, they may recommend changes to future processes. The public body will then decide if any action should be taken.

Candidates should be told the result of the formal complaint within 25 working days. The public body should keep candidates informed of any delays.

If candidates are not happy with the outcome, they can appeal it to us – the Commission.

Appeal

Candidates must appeal within 10 working days of the outcome of the formal complaint.

When we get an appeal, we will examine the information. We will decide if the selection process was fair and in keeping with the Code of Practice. If there was an error, we will recommend or direct the public body to change future selection processes.

Our decision can be challenged only through judicial review.

Timeframes

The timeframes for making a complaint are as follows:

  • Candidates must make an informal complaint within a reasonable timeframe
  • Candidates must make a formal complaint within two working days of the informal complaint decision
  • The public body should give candidates the formal complaint decision within 25 working days of receiving their request
  • Candidates must appeal to us within 10 working days of the outcome of the formal review

If candidates make a complaint outside of these timeframes, they may be refused.