Under Appendix A of the Rules (paragraph 3.6), complaints will be dealt with in accordance with the written procedures made under these Rules.  Following a review of the interim procedures, the Executive agreed the procedures at their meeting held in March 2020.

Complaints Process

A. Procedure for initial complaint

  1. A complaint or submission calling for a matter to be considered by a National Disciplinary Committee (NDC) shall be made in writing specifying the charge or issue within the jurisdiction of the NDC to the Joint General Secretaries.  The jurisdiction of the disciplinary committee is set out in paragraph 1, Appendix A, NEU rules.
  2. The Joint General Secretaries will refer the complaint to the Regional/Wales Secretary for the Region to which the member complained against belongs.  The Regional Secretary for that Region or the Wales Secretary in Wales shall act as Secretary to the Committee in the case.
  3. All complaints are to be acknowledged and the complainant shall be offered the opportunity to resolve the matter through conciliation. Where this is agreed, conciliation shall be facilitated by a member of the union with not less than 10 years standing, appointed by the regional/Wales Secretary following consultation with executive members for the area, who is acceptable to both parties. Alternatively, the Regional/Wales Office can engage the services of a local conciliator from ACAS. Where conciliation takes place, time limits shall be paused until the conciliation is concluded, and the regional Wales Secretary shall notify the parties when such time limits begin to run again if conciliation proves unsuccessful.  If conciliation is successful, the Secretary shall notify the parties of the agreed outcome of the conciliation and a copy of this should be sent to the General Secretary for Executive adoption. Conciliation can be requested at any time through the process, by either party but agreement must be secured within five days for conciliation to proceed.  A different format of conciliation can be offered to parties at the end of the process with a view to assisting parties in moving forward.
  4. If conciliation does not take place or is not successful, the complainant will be sent a copy of the complaints procedure and asked to complete the template complaint form.  The complainant shall set out the substance of the complaint and must attach all supporting written evidence and witness statements, in A4 format, in the order in which the complainant intends to present the evidence.
  5. The date on which the complaint is received is the date on which the completed template and supporting evidence is received at the office.
  6. Complaints will not be considered unless made within six months of the circumstances giving rise to the complaint unless the NDC finds exceptional reasons for doing so.  The question of whether the complaint can proceed as within the jurisdiction of the NDC under the Union rules will be considered by the NDC.  Such preliminary matters should be considered at a meeting (Preparatory Review Meeting) which may be held by videoconference, Skype etc.
  7. The Secretary to the NDC shall provide the respondent with a copy of the complaint, with all supporting written evidence submitted and a copy of the Complaints Procedure. The respondent shall provide a response to the complaint within 15 working days (see paragraph 47 for definition), attaching any supporting evidence including witness statements.  All supporting evidence and witness statements should be in A4 format,  presented in the order in which the respondent intends to present their case.
  8. Once a complaint against a member has been submitted, any complaint by the party complained against will either by treated as a defence to the original complaint made or treated as a separate complaint and stayed until the original disciplinary process is completed.  This decision will be taken by the NDC as a preliminary matter at a Preliminary Review Meeting (PRM).  
  9.  Where it is necessary for a PRM to be held, this will take place as soon as practicable after submission of the respondent’s response (see para 12 below). At the PRM, the NDC shall consider such preliminary matters as referred to in paragraphs 6 and 8 above.  The PRM may decide to admit late papers, grant or refuse a request for postponement, consider a request from a party to call more than 3 witnesses, hold a meeting outside the school week or deal with other procedural matters as necessary, where it believes that there are exceptional circumstances to vary the provisions set out in this procedure.The PRM may establish a timetable for steps to be taken by the parties up to the date of hearing and may set limitations on the length of the hearing.

B. Preliminary Review Stage

  1. The complaint will be heard by a National Disciplinary Committee consisting of five members drawn from the Panel for the National Disciplinary Committee and the National Appeals Committee.
  2. The NDC NAC Panel comprises 17 members (one per electoral district).
  3. A Committee Chair will be elected by email prior to the PRM or NDC meeting.
  4. A Preliminary Review Meeting (PRM) where necessary will be held as soon as practicable after the receipt of the respondents’ paperwork. This review can be held via skype or life-size and the participants will be the Committee Chair and two members of the Committee with the Secretary.  
  5. At the Review stage, the NDC can agree that
  6. the case does not fall within the jurisdiction of the NDC (including time limits, membership and other reasons); or
  7. the case does not fall under any of the disciplinary headings in Appendix A of the Rules; or
  8. There is no case to answer
  9. There is no case to answer and the case is vexatious
  10. The case should proceed to a full hearing.
  11. Reasons for the decision will be given but there is no appeal from a decision of the PRM that the case cannot proceed.
  12. Following the PRM, if such takes place, and in any event at least 10 working days (see paragraph 47) before the full hearing date, the Secretary shall combine the papers submitted by the parties into a single hearing bundle.

C. Full Hearing

  1. A hearing will normally be held as soon as is practicably possible from the date that the complaint is received, during the same school term other than in exceptional circumstances. The Secretary shall seek to ensure that the case is heard within the same school term as the complaint was made.
  2. At least ten working days’ notice of the hearing date will be provided to both parties.
  3. The hearing will be held at or in a venue near the Regional/Wales Office and the venue costs will be met centrally.
  4. Parties can each call up to three witnesses in person, unless they have been granted permission by the Committee to call more for exceptional reasons.  Character witnesses will submit a statement only and shall not attend in person.
  5. Witness statements should be submitted with the initial complaint or response to the complaint.  Witness statements to include: 
  6. A brief Union/career resume from the witness in order to establish their credentials and make clear the relevance of the witness’ evidence to the proceedings.
  7. A statement of the relevant facts as perceived by the witness, chronologically or otherwise rationally ordered. 
  8. A signed and dated statement that the record is a true and correct record to the best of the witness’ knowledge and belief. 
  9. Parties to an NDC/NAC will not call Union staff as witnesses, unless the staff member(s) were previously local officers at the time of the incident before the NDC/NAC.
  10. Each party shall be entitled to attend the hearing by the Committee accompanied by a friend who shall be a member of the Union with the right to call and examine witnesses. No persons other than the parties, their friends, and their witnesses when required shall be present at the hearing.
  11. The national Union will meet travel costs for parties and witnesses but will not reimburse for loss of earnings.  This would be the case if a member was attending an ET as a witness in support of a member.  In exceptional circumstances (acute hardship), a witness can apply to the NDC panel for financial support which would be capped at £50.

D. Relaying the decision

  1. Following consideration of the complaint a National Disciplinary Committee may either dismiss the complaint or find the complaint justified.  If the National Disciplinary Committee find the complaint justified, they may impose one or more of the following penalties:
  2. reprimand and warning as to future conduct;
  3.  severe reprimand and censure;
  4. suspension from the Union for a fixed period;
  5. removal from office or accreditation held by the member either indefinitely or for a specified period;
  6. disqualification from holding office or role in the Union either indefinitely or for a specified period;
  7. exclusion from the Union.
  8. The complainant and respondent will be informed in writing by the Secretary of the NDC of the outcome of the hearing as soon as is practicably possible but within 10 working days and the full report will be sent within 20 working days;
  9. The decision will inform the parties of the rights of appeal to the National Appeals Committee.

E. Appeal Process

Appendix A:

  1. An appeal from a decision of a National Disciplinary Committee will be heard by a National Appeals Committee consisting of five members drawn from the Panel for the National Disciplinary Committee and the National Appeals Committee.  The Panel members who form the National Appeals Committee shall not in any way have been involved in the decision made by the National Disciplinary Committee. The form of the appeal will, in accordance with the rules, be as set out in paragraphs 27 to 30 or 31 to 34.
  2.  Operation of the penalty of the National Disciplinary Committee shall remain suspended pending the decision of the National Appeals Committee which shall be final.

Appeal by respondent

  1. When a National Disciplinary Committee complaint has been found to be justified the member complained about, now called the appellant, has a right of appeal in respect of the finding and the penalty provided that the appeal is submitted to the General Secretary within the time limit and in the manner set out in written procedures. The appeal must be in writing and set out the grounds for the appeal and must be received within 10 working days of receipt of full decision. The appellant must set out the grounds of appeal, including any findings of fact which the appellant wishes to challenge, along with page numbers of supporting evidence from the NDC bundle, including page numbers of witness statements of witnesses the appellant wishes to call, or relevant paragraphs of the NDC decision.
  2. The secretary shall provide the defendant to the appeal (complainant before the NDC) with a copy of the appeal setting out the full grounds and supporting evidence.
  3. The defendant to the appeal shall, within 10 working days of receipt of the appellants case, respond setting out the grounds on which the appeal will be resisted, including page numbers of supporting evidence including any witness statements, from the NDC bundle.
  4. The full bundle of papers shall be sent to the parties and the Committee at least ten days in advance of the hearing.  The onus shall be on the parties to ensure all paperwork is submitted in time.  The bundle of papers for the hearing shall contain the papers for the NDC.
  5. The appeal will be heard by the National Appeals Committee. The chair of the NAC may decide to hold a preliminary review meeting in order to consider any preliminary matters. It is not necessary for the appeal to take the form of a full re-hearing, as not all matters may be in dispute. The NAC hearing must, however, allow an opportunity for the appellant to challenge any findings of fact made by the NDC and to make representations as to why the NAC should overturn the decision of the NDC.
  6. The secretary will inform the parties of the date of hearing of the appeal, giving at least 10 working days’ notice.  If either party cannot attend, a further date will be offered within 10 days of the first.  If either party cannot attend on the rescheduled date, the hearing will be held with their companion in attendance.
  7. The National Appeals Committee has full powers to remove any penalty imposed by the National Disciplinary Committee or to replace any penalty imposed by the National Disciplinary Committee with an alternative penalty or penalties as allowed by these Rules save that the National Appeals Committee may not impose a more severe penalty than the penalty imposed by the National Disciplinary Committee.
  8. Complainant and respondent will be informed in writing by the secretary of the outcome of the hearing as soon as practically possible but within 10 working days. The full decision will be sent within 20 working days.

Appeal by complainant

  1. When a National Disciplinary Committee complaint has been found not to be justified the member who has made the complaint, now called the appellant, has a right of appeal limited to the process or procedures by which the decision was made and not relating to the substance or merit of the decision provided that the appeal is submitted to the joint General Secretary within the time limit. The appeal must be entered by completing the appeal template and must be received within 10 working days of receipt of the full decision, setting out the grounds for the appeal and any supporting documents or evidence , including witness statements relating to the process or procedures followed,  and any paragraphs of the NDC decision which are challenged.
  2. The secretary shall provide to the defendant to the appeal (the chair or other member of the NDC panel) with their copy of the appeal setting out the full grounds.
  3. The defendant to the appeal shall, within 10 working days of receipt of the appellants case, respond setting out the grounds on which the appeal will be resisted, including any supporting documents or evidence including witness statements relating to the process or procedure is followed.
  4. No new evidence shall be introduced at the appeal stage.
  5. The appeal will be heard by the National Appeals Committee. The chair of the NAC may decide to hold a preliminary review meeting in order to consider any preliminary matters.
  6. The secretary will inform the parties of the date of hearing of the appeal, giving at least 10 working days’ notice.
  7. The National Appeals Committee has full powers to remove any penalty imposed by the National Disciplinary Committee or to replace any penalty imposed by the National Disciplinary Committee with an alternative penalty or penalties as allowed by these Rules save that the National Appeals Committee may not impose a more severe penalty than the penalty imposed by the National Disciplinary Committee.
  8. Complainant and respondent will be informed in writing by the secretary of the outcome of the hearing as soon as practically possible but within 10 working days. The full decision will be sent within 20 working days.

F. Confidentiality

  1. All proceedings shall be confidential save that:
  2. If the matter proceeds to an NDC or NAC, the outcome will be communicated to the Executive and to the complainants and may be published in such manner as the Executive may decide;
  3. The Secretary to the NAC reserves the right to inform any relevant party of the referral to, and any decisions of, the Preliminary Review Panel, the NDC or the NAC where this is considered appropriate and necessary.

G. Time Limits

  1. ‘Working day’ will be school/college term dates.   Where a members’ working pattern is not term-time only or the parties’ term dates differ, the Panel will take this into account when agreeing the timetable at the PRM.
  2. The date on which the complainant submits their complaint on template with supporting evidence (‘the complaint’) is the date on which the case begins.
  3. The respondent is provided with a copy of the complaint and given 15 working days to provide a response.
  4. A preliminary review of the case will be held as soon as possible after receipt of the respondent’s case.
  5. If the case proceeds to a full hearing, this will normally be held within 30 working days of the complaint being received.
  6. The complainant and respondent will be informed in writing by the Secretary of the NDC of the outcome of the hearing as soon as is practicably possible but within 10 working days and the full report will be sent within 20 working days.
  7. Any notice sent to parties by post shall be deemed to have been received on the second working day after posting.  The parties may confirm that they are willing to accept service by email and any notice sent to them by email shall be deemed to have been received on the date on which the email is sent.

Procedural Notes

The Chair of the Committee can allocate timings for each stage.

Expected Format of Hearings; the Chair/Panel can vary the format according to the circumstances

Stage 1:

X presents complaint and evidence
Y or representative can ask questions of X
Members of the NDP or the NAC can ask questions
X's witnesses (if any) each give evidence
Y or representative can ask questions of each
Members of the panel can ask questions of each

Stage 2:

Y defends the claims made by X
X or representative can ask questions of Y
Members of the NDP or the NAC can ask questions of Y
Y calls witnesses
X or representative can ask questions of each if Y's witnesses
Members of the NDP or the NAC can ask questions of each of Y’s witnesses.

Stage 3:

X has an opportunity to sum up

Stage 4

Y has an opportunity to sum up.

Stage 5:

The NDP or NAC ask any further questions

Stage 6:

The Panel convenes for deliberation and decision.

  • Different waiting areas shall be provided for each party and their witnesses;

NEU Rules Appendix A

National Disciplinary Committee and National Appeals Committee

1. Disciplinary Offences

1.1 A member of the Union commits a disciplinary offence if that member : (a) acts contrary to the Code of Professional Conduct of the Union; (b) acts contrary to the Rules of the Union; (c) refuses to comply with a lawful instruction of the Union; (d) is knowingly involved in any fraud on the Union or misappropriation of Union funds or property; (e) misuses protected data contrary to the Data Protection Act Licence of the Union ; (f) frustrates any decision or penalty of the National Disciplinary Committee or National Appeals Committee; or (g) in any other way engages in conduct which brings injury or discredit to the Union.

2. Elections for National Disciplinary Committee and National Appeals Committee

2.1 The members of the Union in each of the seventeen Executive Districts of the Union shall elect a member to form the Panel of seventeen members who shall be eligible to serve on either a National Disciplinary Committee or a National Appeals Committee.

2.2 Elections to the Panel for the National Disciplinary Committee and National Appeals Committee shall be for a term which shall not exceed four years.

2.3 Candidates for election to the Panel must have been in standard membership of the Union within the last 10 years and in membership of the Union for at least five years continuously prior to the date of closure of nominations.  A member wishing to stand must be nominated by their Local District.   A standard member elected to the Panel who becomes a retired member during their term is entitled to continue their term of office until its expiry but shall not be entitled to stand again for the Panel.  Officers of the Union and members of the Executive at the date of closure of nominations are ineligible to stand for the Panel for the National Disciplinary Committee and the National Appeals Committee. 

3. National Disciplinary Committee

3.1 A complaint made by a member of the Union against a member of the Union, which may consist of one or more alleged disciplinary offences, will be heard by a National Disciplinary Committee consisting of five members drawn from the Panel for the National Disciplinary Committee and the National Appeals Committee.

3.2 A National Disciplinary Committee shall choose its own Chairperson. 

3.3 A complaint under these proceedings may be made by a member of the Union or by an Officer of the Union acting on behalf of the Officers of the Union.  If the complaint is formulated by an Officer of the Union, then the Officers of the Union may suspend that member or members from membership of the Union pending the hearing of the disciplinary proceedings.  The General Secretary of the Union shall notify the relevant Local District and Branch of any such suspension.

3.4 The conduct of National Disciplinary Committee proceedings shall be in accordance with the rules of natural justice.  The member making the complaint and the member being complained about have the right to a fair hearing, without bias, conducted with reasonable promptness consistent with fair opportunity to present their respective cases.  Before a National Disciplinary Committee, the parties may call witnesses of relevance to the matters in dispute.  

3.5 The decisions of a National Disciplinary Committee or a National Disciplinary Committee Chairperson acting on behalf of the Committee are final subject only to the right of appeal to the National Appeals Committee. 

3.6 A complaint made by a member of the Union calling for a matter to be considered by a National Disciplinary Committee must be made in writing to the General Secretary specifying matters which come within one or more of the disciplinary offences referred to above at (a) to (g).  The complaint will not be considered unless made within six months of the circumstances giving rise to the complaint unless the National Disciplinary Committee find exceptional reasons for doing so.  The complaint will be dealt with in accordance with the written procedures made under these Rules.

3.7 Following consideration of the complaint a National Disciplinary Committee may either dismiss the complaint or find the complaint justified.  If the National Disciplinary Committee find the complaint justified they may impose one or more of the following penalties: (a) reprimand and warning as to future conduct; (b)  severe reprimand and censure; (c) suspension from the Union for a fixed period; (d) removal from office or accreditation held by the member either indefinitely or for a specified period; (e) disqualification from holding office or role in the Union either indefinitely or for a specified period; (f) exclusion from the Union.

3.8 When it comes to deliberate on the penalty the National Disciplinary Committee will have before it and will take into account any previous decisions of a National Disciplinary Committee or National Appeals Committee relating to the member who has been complained about.

3.9 The decision of the National Disciplinary Committee with reasons shall be sent to the parties to the dispute.   The decision will inform the parties of the rights of appeal to the National Appeals Committee.

4. National Appeals Committee 

4.1 An appeal from a decision of a National Disciplinary Committee will be heard by a National Appeals Committee consisting of five members drawn from the Panel for the National Disciplinary Committee and the National Appeals Committee.  The Panel members who form the National Appeals Committee shall not in any way have been involved in the decision made by the National Disciplinary Committee.

4.2 A National Appeals Committee shall choose its own Chairperson.

4.3 When a National Disciplinary Committee complaint has been found to be justified the member complained about, now called the appellant, has a right of appeal in respect of the finding and the penalty provided that the appeal is submitted to the General Secretary within the time limit and in the manner set out in written procedures. The appeal must be in writing and set out the grounds for the appeal.

4.4 When a National Disciplinary Committee complaint has been found not to be justified the member who has made the complaint, now called the appellant, has a right of appeal limited to the process or procedures by which the decision was made and not relating to the substance or merit of the decision provided that the appeal is submitted to the General Secretary within the time limit and in the manner set out in written procedures. The appeal must be in writing and set out the grounds for the appeal.

4.5 Operation of the penalty of the National Disciplinary Committee shall remain suspended pending the decision of the National Appeals Committee which shall be final. 

4.6 The conduct of National Appeals Committee proceedings shall be in accordance with the rules of natural justice.  The parties involved in the appeal have the right to a fair hearing, without bias, conducted with reasonable promptness consistent with fair opportunity to present their respective cases. 

4.7 The appeal will be dealt with in accordance with the written procedures made under these Rules.

4.8 The National Appeals Committee has full powers to remove any penalty imposed by the National Disciplinary Committee or to replace any penalty imposed by the National Disciplinary Committee with an alternative penalty or penalties as allowed by these Rules save that the National Appeals Committee may not impose a more severe penalty than the penalty imposed by the National Disciplinary Committee.

5. Confidentiality

5.1 The proceedings of the National Disciplinary Committee and of the National Appeals Committee shall be confidential save that the outcomes of each Committee shall be communicated to the Executive and to the parties to the dispute. 

6. Procedures

 6.1 The Executive, taking into account advice from the National Disciplinary Committee and the National Appeals Committee, shall produce procedures for the election of members to the Panels for the National Disciplinary Committee and the National Appeals Committee and for the administration of their cases and the conduct of their hearings including all time limits.

NEU Code of Professional Conduct (Appendix I to the Union’s Rules)

As a membership organisation that represents the interests, and reflects the views, of those employed in education, the NEU expects members to act professionally and in accordance with these Rules both as an individual member and in the capacity of a representative of the Union.  Members will conduct themselves professionally and ethically, with respect for others, maintaining an environment in which the Union’s objections can be pursued productively and creatively.  Discrimination and discriminatory behaviour will not be tolerated, including discrimination on ground of race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sex, gender identity, disability, social class, family status, pregnancy and maternity.

Members will be liable to disciplinary action and sanction according to the provisions of Appendix A in relation to behaviour which amounts to:

  1. conduct which is contrary to these Rules either as an individual member or in the capacity of representative of the Union;
  2. fraud on the Union or any misappropriation of its funds or property;
  3. discrimination and discriminatory behaviour in contravention of the Objects of the NEU and this Code; or
  4. other professional conduct which brings injury or discredit to the Union.

Unprofessional conduct includes actions which are injurious to the professional honour of another member, including but not limited to the following:

  1. Taking an appointment from which, in the judgement of the NEU Executive a member of the Union has been unjustly dismissed.
  2. Making a report which contains criticism of the work or conduct of another member without at the time acquainting the member concerned with the nature of the report, either verbally or in writing.  This does not however apply to issues which relate to child protection issues or other legal duties or responsibilities of a member and which it is reasonable at the time for the member to believe that the member concerned will receive a copy of the report in the course of a formal process.
  3. Censuring or criticising other members in the hearing of pupils and other persons not directly involved in the running of the school.
  4. For any member to seek to compel another member to perform outside the ordinary workplace hours any task which is not essentially connected with the ordinary work and organisation of the institution.
  5. For any member to impose upon another member, out of the ordinary workplace hours, an excessive and unreasonable amount of work of any kind.

The right of any member to Union membership and all claims and entitlements to Union benefits shall be reviewed by the Professional Conduct (Criminal Convictions) Committee and the Executive in accordance with Rule 20.3 where the member is convicted in a Court of Law of any offence which may bring the Association into disrepute.