Making a complaint: questions and answers
What can I complain about?
An employee can make a complaint where they have an honest belief, based on reasonable grounds, that one or more of the following have occurred:
- an administrative decision is unfair or unreasonable
- the conduct or behaviour of an employee, agent or contractor is unfair, unreasonable or constitutes sexual harassment, workplace harassment or discrimination
- the decision, conduct or behaviour has a substantial and direct adverse effect on the employee concerned.
An employee complaint can also be made about:
- suspected misconduct
- corrupt conduct
- clinical matters
- pay and employment conditions
- OH&S concerns
- a breach of Queensland Health policy or the Code of Conduct for the Queensland Public Service.
Who can make a complaint?
Any person, including a bystander, can make a complaint.
Things to consider before you make a complaint
If you have a complaint or concern there are some steps you can take which will help us help you:
- Act quickly - Please tell us about the issue as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the less clear the facts become and the harder it can be to find a solution.
Go local first - Complaints do not have to be in writing, you can make a verbal complaint to the health service directly. Give the local service a chance to fix the problem if you think they can.
- Make a formal complaint - If you do not wish to talk about your concerns with local staff or they have not been able to address your concerns, you can make a formal complaint with your line manager or Human Resource Manager.
Make it clear - Set out the order in which things happened, preferably with dates, and descriptions of the incident/s, phone calls, letters or meetings and let us know the action you would like us to take.
Sexual harassment complaints - may constitute corrupt conduct and must be forwarded to the Ethical Standards Unit (ESU) for advice and assessment. Employees of Hospital and Health Services (HHSs) should forward sexual harassment complaints to their local Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) Liaison Officer or Human Resources team.
How can I make a complaint?
At first it's best to talk to your line manager or local Human Resources team. They can explain how to make a complaint and take you through the process.
If you are not sure who to go to, you can access the Employee complaints web page.
Remember, act quickly. The earlier you tell someone about your concerns, the sooner your concerns can be addressed.
If you are uncomfortable approaching your line manager or local Human Resources team you can also report directly to Staffcomplaints@health.qld.gov.au or phone 1800 195 240.
How your complaint is handled, depends on what it is about. The officer helping you with your concerns can explain the complaints process, time frames and what your options are if you are not satisfied with the outcome.
What happens if my complaint can not be dealt with locally?
Most of the time the local area will be able to deal with complaints, however sometimes this is not possible.
If your complaint is about bullying and harassment it's best to speak to your line manager or local Human Resources team.
Privacy and Right to Informaiton matters or complaints regarding legislative breaches are dealt by your local Privacy Officer or by the Legal Unit, Department of Health. Employees of prescribed Hospital and Health Services (HHSs) should speak with their local Human Resources team.
Employees of the Department of Health and non-prescribed Hospital and Health Services who wish to report complaints about suspected corrupt conduct, including sexual harassment or anything that might be illegal should report their concerns to the Ethical Standards Unit (ESU) or to their manager, who is obliged to escalate such complaints to Ethical Standards Unit.
Employees of the prescribed HHSs should speak to their local Human Resources team who may refer matters to the HHSs Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) Liaison Officer, as required.
Complaints or matters regarding Public Interest Disclosures are managed by the Ethical Standards Unit. Employees of prescribed HHSs should speak with their local Human Resources team, who will refer relevant matters onto the HHSs CCC Liaison Officer for assessment.
Complaints regarding Occupational Workplace Health and Safety will be sent to your local OH&S unit. If your complaint can't be handled locally, it will be referred to the relevant Occupational Health and Workplace Safety committee for escalation and resolution.
Matters regarding your employment, discrimination and other human resource issues, including if you are a contractor working within Queensland Health are dealt with by the local Human Resources team.
Matters regarding your employment, including pay and conditions are dealt with by your local payroll office.
Concerns or matters about patient care relating to the behaviour or clinical practice of individual clinicians should be reported to the relevant Clinical Director.
If you are not sure who to go to when lodging a formal complaint, you can access the Employee Complaints webpage on QHEPS or you can talk with your local Human Resources team.
Will my complaint be confidential?
The officer dealing with your complaint will be able to advise you if confidentiality applies to your case but it generally cannot be guaranteed.
If your complaint is about another person, they have the right to know the allegations and be given a chance to respond.
Furthermore if your complaint is one of suspected corrupt conduct, your employer is obliged to report it to the Crime and Corruption Commission.
Can I make an anonymous complaint?
Yes, you can make your complaint anonymously.
However, it may be difficult to resolve an anonymous complaint if you do not provide your contact details and further information is required from you.
Can I make a Public Interest Disclosure (PID)?
If the Ethical Standards Unit or Hospital and Health Service Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) Liaison Officer decide that your complaint is a Public Interest Disclosure, you may be entitled to PID status. Department of Health employees should contact Ethical Standards Unit for further information. Employees of prescribed Hospital and Health Services should speak with their local CCC Liaison Officer or Human Resources team.
For further information you can access the Employee Complaints web page.
Also see Public Interest Disclosures
We understand that people may be affected by a complaint and the process related to it.
If you need support, you could approach the person dealing with the matter for a recommendation as to who might be available to support you or you might consider seeking support from one of the following:
- Employee Assistance Program
- Staffcomplaints@health.qld.gov.au or phone 1800 195 240
Your supervisor or a colleague.
What is the time frame for resolving a complaint?
Queensland Health undertakes to resolve all employee complaints within 21 days of receipt of the complaint.
Certain types of complaints may be resolved within a shorter time frame. Refer to the HR Policy E12 Employee Complaints (PDF, 161kB) for further details.
It is possible that, at the end of the process, you will not receive the outcome that you wanted.
If you feel that you have not been treated fairly or that the result is unreasonable, there are provisions for seeking a review, both internal and external. Different complaints processes have different appeal or review options.
The person managing your complaint will be able to advise you of your options for appeal or review if you are not satisfied with the outcome or the way your complaint has been handled.