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Ombudsman Service 2018-09-29T17:11:10+00:00

Ombudsman Service

The IRCM is the only independent Regulator, providing an Ombudsman Service for the Coaching and Mentoring Industry consumers.

The role of the Ombudsman was first created in Sweden more than 200 years ago and was designed to provide protection for the consumer where there was a substantial imbalance of power between the consumer and that state.  Today Ombudsman have been extended to include other private and independent sectors.

The IRCM provides each consumer (client, student, member of a Professional Body) with an independent authority to address disputes and complaints in line with current consumer policy.  The first step in the IRCM’s Ombudsman procedure is one of facilitation.  Where a resolution cannot be found in facilitation, the consumer has the right to raise a formal complaint.

The Ombudsman Service has the power to make decisions which are binding on the Professional Bodies, Training Organisations, Coaches, and Mentors in their jurisdiction unless the dispute/challenge is successfully challenged through the courts.

What can the IRCM, as the Coaching and Mentoring Industry Ombudsman, do you for?

  • The Ombudsman Service is free of charge.
    For this reason, this service is accessible to all consumers who cannot afford to pursue their disputes or complaints through the courts.
  • The Ombudsman Service is committed to both achieving redress for the consumer, as well as working with the Professional Bodies and Training Organisations to identify systemic failings.
  • A single investigation may be incorporated into multiple disputes/complaints about the same topic.
    This avoids duplication and excessive cost, as well identifying systemic failings.
  • The dispute/complaint will be progressed where it is not already the subject of court proceedings.
  • The Ombudsman Service is a neutral and independent arbiter, and is not an advocate nor a consumer champion.
  • The Ombudsman Service recommends that the consumer raises their dispute/complaint with the relevant Coach, Mentor, Training Organisation, Professional Body or Commercial Organisation.
  • The first step of any dispute or complaint is to facilitate a resolution, by working with the consumer and the individual/organisation, without resorting to a formal investigation.
  • Where a resolution is not found through facilitation, the consumer may progress to formal complaint where a formal investigation will be undertaken.
  • Where the Ombudsman Service identifies an injustice, working with all relevant parties/bodies, it seeks to put this right.

© 2018 International Regulator of Coaching and Mentoring CIC. All Rights Reserved
Version 2. May, 2018

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click here to access the relevant Codes of Conduct.

Independence
Ensuring and demonstrating the freedom of the Head of Ombudsman, Ombudsman Committee and the Appeals Panel from interference in decision making.

  • Freedom from interference by any Director or member of the IRCM team in Ombudsman decision making on grievances, disputes, or complaints.
  • Building an appropriate and proportionate structure.
  • Appointment, re-appointment and remuneration of the Head of Ombudsman, Ombudsman Committee and the Appeals Panel consistent with ensuring Ombudsman independence.
  • Governance arrangements which ensure and safeguard the independence of Head of Ombudsman, Ombudsman Committee and the Appeals Panel and the Ombudsman Policy and Procedures.
  • The Head of Compliance, Head of Ombudsman, Ombudsman Committee and the Appeals Panel involved in the governance of the scheme to conduct themselves at all times in the best interest of the Ombudsman Policy and Procedures.

Openness and Transparency
Ensuring openness and transparency in order that the consumers (buying public) can have confidence in the decision-making and management processes of the Ombudsman Policy and Procedures.

  • Be clear about the legal rights, governance, authority, and funding arrangements of the Ombudsman.
  • Clearly worded policies and procedures.
  • Clear criteria for outcome decisions.
  • Clear and proper recording of decisions and actions on the IRCM Register.
  • Unless confidentiality is breeched, the Ombudsman will make all information and publication of decisions clear, consistent with statute, contract and good practice.
  • Clear levels of authority including conflicts of interest delegation.
  • Providing when requested a register of interests which apply to the Ombudsman team to relevant parties of a dispute, grievance, or complaint.

Accountability
Ensuring that all members of the Ombudsman team are seen to be responsible and accountable for their decisions and actions.

  • Accountable to the Regulator of Community Interest Companies for external scrutiny.
  • Accountable to Complainants and Respondents, and the Coaching and Mentoring Industry.
  • Robust mechanism for external audit and review of service quality.

Integrity
Ensuring straightforward, indepth and complete dealing of each dispute, grievance, or complaint registered; based on honesty, selflessness, professionalism, and objectivity.  Ensure high standards of propriety in the conduct of all aspects of the Ombudsman.

  • Ability to demonstrate impartiality in all activities.
  • Demonstrating and declaring the management of all conflicts of interest
  • Ensuring that all members of the Ombudsman Team comply with the IRCM’s Code of Conduct.

Clarity of purpose
Ensuring that Complainants, Respondents, and the Coaching and Mentoring Industry know why the Ombudsman Policy and Procedures exists, why it is defined, what it can do for each consumer (client, student, or member of a Professional Body), and what they should expect from it.

  • Clear explanation of the purpose of the Ombudsman.
  • Clarity on who the Ombudsman Policy and Procedures serves.
  • Clear definition of the Ombudsman Policy and Procedures.
  • Clarity on the extent of the Ombudsman jurisdiction.

Effectiveness
Ensuring that the Ombudsman delivers quality outcomes; simply, efficiently and professionally.

  • Demonstrating the methods used to keep to commitments.
  • Working closely with the Training Organisations and Professional Bodies to implement Coaching and Mentoring Industry recommendations.
  • Effective risk management to raise the standards, confidence and excellence in the Coaching and Mentoring Industry.

The following terminology is used throughout this Ombudsman Procedure and Process:

  • Grievance (also known as dispute) is a something believed to cause distress; or a wrong considered as grounds for a complaint; or resentment against an unjust or unfair act.  Therefore, this term refers to the objection the person or organisation is raising against a Coach, Mentor, Training Organisation, or Professional Body.
  • Complaint is a formal registration of the grievance.
  • Complainant – this term refers to the person or organisation that is raising the complaint
  • Respondent – the person or organisation that the complaint is in relation to

The IRCM does not represent the Commercial Organisations.  Where the consumer wishes to raise a complaint against one of the Commercial Organisations, please raise the complaint through the relevant Ombudsman.

It is the independent responsibility of each individual and organisation in the Coaching and Mentoring Industry and the consumers (client, student, member of the Professional Bodies) to understand this Ombudsman Procedure and Process.  The IRCM, as the Coaching and Mentoring Industry Ombudsman will, for all grievances/disputes/complaints received, ensure that the Complainant and the Respondent is provided with the link to this Ombudsman Procedure and Process.

It is important for every consumer (client, student, member of a Professional Body) who feels unsatisfied with the service they have received, knows about this Ombudsman Procedure and Process.

The IRCM does not accept any responsibility for expenses related to or incurred by every individual/organisation, or any supporting parties for any grievance or complaint registered and progressed through the Ombudsman Procedure and Process.

All communication, unless otherwise stated, will be through the use of email.  Emails will deemed to be served within 12 hours after sending unless returned automatically as un-delivered.

All timeframes documented within this Ombudsman Procedure and Process, where possible, will be adhered to.  It is recognised that timeframes may not be met where gaining, collating, and processing all relevant information is reliant on receiving the information from one or more parties.

Although there may be many reasons for requesting facilitation or raising a Grievance/Complaint, the Ombudsman focuses on the following three types of complaints:

Professional Misconduct is defined when a Coach, Mentor, Training Organisation, or Professional Body has contravened the Unified Code of Industry Ethics or Unified Coaching and Mentoring Industry Core Competencies.  Whether on the IRCM Register or not, misconduct applies where a Coach, Mentor, Training Organisation, or Professional Body is considered to have failed to follow the ethical code of the coaching or mentoring industry.

Professional Malpractice is defined when a Coaches, Mentors, Training Organisations, or Professional Bodies professional behaviour, through incompetence and/or negligence, is deemed to be below the minimum standards of the coaching or mentoring industry, it will be considered to represent Professional Malpractice.  Whether on the IRCM Register or not, malpractice applies where a Coach, Mentor, Training Organisation, or Professional Body is deemed to be below the minimum standards of the coaching or mentoring industry.

Coaching or Mentoring Industry Disrepute is defined where a Coach, Mentor, Training Organisation, or Professional Body has behaved in such a way that it is deemed to have brought the Coaching or Mentoring Industry into disrepute; by behaving in a manner that undermines the consumer’s confidence in the coaching or mentoring industry.  Whether on the IRCM Register or not, bringing the industry into disrepute by a Coach, Mentor, Training Organisation, or Professional Body Industry Disrepute is deemed to undermine the consumer’s confidence in the coaching or mentoring industry.

  1. The grievance, dispute, or complaint is considered to be a breach of a clause of the Unified Code of Industry Ethics or Unified Coaching and Mentoring Industry Core Competencies.
  2. The grievance or complaint can be raised by any consumer who has received a service or product provided by:
    1. an individual calling themselves or representing themselves as a Coach or Mentor,
    2. an individual providing a Coaching or Mentoring service or product,
    3. an organisation providing Coach and/or Mentor Training/Workshops, or
    4. a Professional Body representing Coaching or Mentoring.
  3. The Respondent must be named in the grievance or complaint.
  4. The Respondent may or may not be listed on the IRCM Register.
  5. The matter is in relation to coaching or mentoring service or product.
  6. The matter is not already in progress as a formal complaint.  Where the matter is in progress, a grievance or complaint may only be raised where the matter was not resolved through a formal complaint registered by the Complainant to the Respondent directly or to a Professional Body.
  7. The matter is not already the subject of court proceedings.
  8. It is recommended that the Complainant has first approached the Respondent and sought to resolve the issue through Facilitation.
  9. The grievance or complaint must be presented in detail in writing in detail and where applicable additional documentation submitted.
  10. The complaint must be signed electronically by the Complainant.
  11. In line with point 8, the complaint must also include details of the initial approach made by the Complainant and the results of the initial approach.
  12. The alleged violation (grievance, dispute, or complaint) should normally be reported no later than 12 months (1 calendar year) after the event that triggered the grievance or complaint.
  13. All grievances, disputes, or complaints must be reporting formally through the Ombudsman ‘Request for Facilitation’ or ‘Raising a Formal Complaint’ form.

The Ombudsman encourages the resolution of grievances, disputes, or complaints relating to a Coaches, Mentors, Training Organisations or Professional Bodies professional conduct, by using direct means.  Therefore, Complainants should first approach the Respondent about their grievance and if achievable, negotiate a satisfactory resolution.

Although the Ombudsman can act as facilitator during this stage, if requested by either the Complainant and/or the Respondent, the Ombudsman requests that the Complainant completes the Complaints form and highlights on the form that they wish the Ombudsman to act as a facilitator.

Process

Where the Compliance Department receives a request for facilitation, it will be acknowledged and provide both Complainant and the Respondent with a copy of the facilitation request and the link to the Ombudsman Procedure and Process.

The Ombudsman does not accept any responsibility for expenses related to or incurred through any grievance, dispute or complaint.

If the matter is not resolved to the Complainant’s satisfaction, they may raise a formal complaint which will be presented to both parties.

  1. On receipt of the complaint form, the complaint will initially be dealt with by the Head of the Compliance Department and the Ombudsman.
    The Ombudsman will maintain the confidentiality of the details of this complaint in as far as it is able to.
  2. The Head of the Compliance Department and the Head of Ombudsman must openly declare any areas of conflict or of interest prior to the progress of this complaint.
    • Where there is a conflict of interest, the Head of Compliance will appoint a member of the Board or refer the matter to the IRCM’s Board of Directors, who will appoint a member of the Board, to participate in procedure and process of this complaint.
  3. The Ombudsman will acknowledge the receipt of the complaint, and provide both Complainant and the Respondent:
    • a copy of the complaint and
    • a link to the Ombudsman Procedure and Process.
  4. The Ombudsman will review the details of the complaint as registered; request and collate all relevant information from:
    • the Complainant,
    • the Respondent, and
    • any third parties documented in the information provided.
    • It is at this point that all relevant information (i.e. correspondence, etc.) pertaining to this complaint must be received no less than 30 calendar days after the request for additional information has been made to the Complainant, Respondent, and any third parties.
  5. The Head of the Compliance Department and Ombudsman will review the details of the complaint and all related information.
  6. Following on from the initial review, it is at this the point at which the complaint will be;
    • Resolved, or
    • Rejected, or
    • Deferred for additional information to be obtained, or
    • Accepted as a valid complaint.
    • Where the complaint is resolved, the Ombudsman will notify both parties of the resolution to the complaint.
      Where the complaint is rejected, the Ombudsman will notify both parties of the reason for the rejection of the complaint.
      Where the complaint is deferred for further information, the Ombudsman will notify both parties, and request the additional information.
      Where the complaint is accepted as a valid complaint, it will be referred on to the Ombudsman Committee, and the Complainant and Respondent will be formally notified of this action.
  7. The Ombudsman Committee comprises of the Ombudsman and where relevant, the additional Committee members should be called from the following Departments – Compliance, Industry Direction, Registers, and/or Steering Committee.  The Ombudsman Committee must always be comprised of an odd number and including the Ombudsman, must be a minimum of three members.
  8. Ombudsman Committee members must openly declare any areas of conflict or of interest prior to the progress of this complaint.
    • Where there is a conflict of interest, the Head of Compliance will appoint a replacement from the same Department, or a member of the Board; or refer the matter to the IRCM’s Board of Directors, who will appoint a member of the Board, to participate in procedure and process of this complaint.
  9. All correspondence, documentation, and information pertaining to the complaint will be distributed to all members of the Ombudsman Committee.
  10. Where the initial review accepts the complaint as a ‘valid complaint’, the Respondent will be notified of the full details of the complaint made against them.
  11. The Respondent has 30 calendar days to respond to the full details of the complaint.
  12. The Ombudsman will communicate the Respondent’s response to the Complainant and where no resolution is found, the Ombudsman will convene a hearing.
  13. In advance of the hearing, the Head of Ombudsman will decide whether any legal advice needs to be obtained from IRCM’s legal advisers.
  14. Where the hearing or legal advice sought incurs a cost, it is understood and agreed by all parties that this cost will incorporated in the outcome of this complaint.
  15. Where possible, hearings will be arranged using the IRCM’s Meeting and Conference platform.
    • Where the Complainant or the Respondent requests that the hearing is held in a face-2-face venue, all costs (including travel, hiring of an appropriate venue) will be covered by the person requesting the face-2-face hearing.
    • The hearing will be chaired by the Ombudsman and attended by all members of the Ombudsman Committee, the Complainant, the Respondent, and any relevant third parties.
  16. Any additional information (i.e. witness statements, correspondence, etc.) must be received by Ombudsman not less than 30 calendar days prior to the date of any hearing.  This information will be shared with the Ombudsman Committee, on receipt.
  17. The Ombudsman will decide if new evidence can be accepted on the day of the hearing.
  18. The Complainant and Respondent may bring one support person to any hearing.
    • The support person is there to support the Complainant or the Respondent and will not participate in the activities of the hearing.
  19. Witnesses can be called to attend the hearing and the names of such witnesses must be submitted to the Ombudsman no later than 30 calendar days prior to the date of any hearing.  All witnesses must be prepared to be questioned by any member of the Ombudsman Committee, the Complainant or the Respondent.
  20. If either the Respondent or the Complainant fails to attend the hearing, the Head of Ombudsman has the right to:
    • continue with the case in their absence, or
    • terminate and conclude the hearing, or
    • adjourn and reset the hearing for no later than 30 calendar days from the date of the original hearing.

After the hearing, the Ombudsman Committee will convene to agree the outcome of the hearing.

All relevant parties will be notified in writing of the outcome of the hearing by the Ombudsman, within 30 calendar days of the date of the hearing.

Outcomes will depend on the documentation submitted, the evidence presented and responded to at the hearing, and the severity and frequency of the complaint; and on factors which include:

If there is insufficient evidence to uphold the complaint, the result of the complaint will be documented as completed reminding the Respondent of the expected Code of Conduct through the Unified Code of Industry Ethics or Unified Coaching and Mentoring Industry Core Competencies.

Outcomes of the complaint may include a single or combination of the following:

  • Rejected
  • Resolved through facilitation
  • Resolved through discussion
  • Resolved through information shared during the hearing
  • Upheld.

Where the complaint is upheld, the outcome of the complaint will depend upon the wishes of the Complainant and the determination by the Ombudsman Committee.

In line with the IRCM’s remit, any and all sanctions will be clearly stated and noted in the IRCM’s Register.

Where sanctions have been applied against the Respondent, the Respondent can apply for sanctions to be lifted when the conditions have been met. The Ombudsman will seek evidence of compliance prior to lifting sanctions. The Respondent will be informed in writing of the lifting details and the records will be clearly stated and noted in the IRCM’s Register.

Ombudsman have the power to make decisions which are binding on the Professional Bodies, Training Organisations, Coaches, and Mentors in their jurisdiction unless the dispute/challenge is successfully challenged through the courts.

Therefore, appeals will only be considered if new evidence of a significant nature is presented and the Ombudsman considers that if the new evidence been available at the time of the hearing, it would have altered the decision or sanctions applied.

Appeals where the sanction is deemed unfairly harsh in relation to the event will also be considered by the Ombudsman.

Appeals must be made in writing within 30 calendar days of notification of the original decision.  The appeal is required to clearly outline the grounds on which the appeal is being made.  All appeals must be made in the first instance to the Ombudsman using the Appeals form.

An Appeals Chairperson and Appeals Panel will be appointed by the Ombudsman and will be include a member of the IRCM’s Board of Directors.  The Appeals Panel must always be comprised of an odd number and including the Chairperson, must be a minimum of three members who were not involved in any way whatsoever with the original hearing.

The Appeals Procedure and Process is subject to the same rules applied to the original hearing.

The Chairperson of the Appeals Panel will inform the Ombudsman of its decision.  The Ombudsman will take the appropriate action.  The decision will be made in writing within 21 calendar days of the Appeals hearing, and the Respondent and Complainant informed of the decision – if the appeal is upheld, turned down, or if there is insufficient evidence to continue.

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Request for Facilitation

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Raising a Formal Complaint

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Submit an Appeal

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Currently all information provided by and correspondence with the IRCM is in English.