Complaints – What happens when a complaint is made?
This is the second article about the disciplinary process. It focuses on what happens after a complaint has been made about an electrical worker.
All complaints are received by the Registrar. The Registrar, when receiving a complaint, may determine that it is frivolous or vexatious and that it will not be investigated or proceeded with. Frivolous complaints are those that do not have any serious purpose or value. Vexatious are those which are improperly motivated such as where they lack merit or are instituted primarily to distress, annoy or embarrass rather than to obtain the remedy sought.
The Registrar also needs to consider whether the conduct complained about is so serious that the Board should consider an interim suspension of an electrical worker’s licence pending the investigation.
The Board will order an interim suspension where it considers there is an unacceptable risk that the electrical worker may carry out or cause further unsafe electrical work and there is a need to protect the safety of the public.
If the Board imposes an interim suspension then it must ensure the investigation and any hearing is completed without undue delay.
Once the Registrar has considered the above matters he must refer the matter to an Investigator. An Investigator is independent of the Board and is appointed by the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment.
The Investigator reviews the complaint, obtains a response from the electrical worker, and carries out any further investigation necessary to make a decision as to whether the allegations should or should not be heard by the Board. The Investigator usually appoints an expert to review the evidence and provide an opinion on the compliance of the prescribed electrical work prior to making a determination.
Once the investigation is complete the Investigator makes a determination as to whether the complaint “should” or “should not” be heard by the Board. The Investigator’s determination is final and cannot be reviewed by the Board.
What to do if you are under investigation?
An electrical worker must be given an opportunity to respond to a complaint as part of the investigation. It is the electrical worker’s opportunity to provide any evidence which may explain the matters complained about. An explanation provided at the time of the investigation is usually far more believable than one provided at a hearing. A full explanation may also result in the Investigator determining that the complaint should not proceed to a hearing.
The investigator’s determination
If the Investigator determines that the complaint should not proceed to a hearing then the complaint does not proceed any further. A complainant can, however, lay another complaint about the same matter but further compelling evidence would normally be required before it would be considered.
If the investigator determines that the complaint should be considered by the Board then the Board must hold a hearing.
What happens at a hearing?
The next article in this series will look at the hearing process.