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Complaint and Appeal Procedure

1.Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to define the actions to be taken in the event that a complaint or appeal is received from customers, certified organizations, and other parties with regard to a decisions related to the certification process, as well as complaints for the overall PECB MS operations for which appeals are not applicable.

This policy is not applicable for complaints related to alleged illegal, financial, or regulatory issues, which will be handled by proper authorities.

2. Scope

This policy covers two different scopes and types of complaints (as defined by PECB MS) and appeals, outlined as in the following:

  1. The complaints and appeals addressed to PECB MS in response to the audit actions, recommendations that follow, and the role of the Appeal Board in reaching a conclusive settlement on account of the appeal. These types of complaints are hereinafter referred to as “Certification Complaint.”

  2. The complaints addressed to PECB MS about the overall operations of PECB MS, i.e., expression of dissatisfaction made to PECB MS, related to its products or services, procedures, policies, support, technology, representatives (including subcontractors, and employees), overall operations, or the complaint handling process itself, where a response or resolution is explicitly or implicitly expected. These types of complaints are hereinafter referred to as “Operations Complaint.

3. References

  • ISO/IEC 17021-1:2015, clauses 9.7 and 9.8 on Appeals and Complaints

  • ISO/IEC 17065:2012, clause 7.13 Complaints and appeals

4. Terms and definitions

Complainant: 

  • “Person, organization or  their representative making a complaint.” (ISO 10002:2018, clause 3.1)

Complaint:

  • “Expression of dissatisfaction, other than appeal (8.6), by any person or organization to a conformity assessment body (4.6), or an accreditation body (4.7), relating to the activities of that body, where a response is expected”. (ISO/IEC 17000:2020, 8.7). These types of complaints are also referred as Certification Complaints within PECB MS, and exclude any operational complaints or complaints related to alleged illegal, financial, or regulatory issues, which will be handled by proper authorities.

Appeal:

  • “Request by the person or organization that provides, or that is, the object of conformity assessment (4.2) to a conformity assessment body (4.6) or an accreditation body (4.7) for reconsideration by that body of a decision (7.2) it has made relating to that object. (ISO/IEC 17000:2020, 8.6)

Operations complaint (PECB MS term): 

  •  (Adapted from “Complaint” definition from ISO 10002:2018): “Expression of dissatisfaction, made to an organization [PECB MS], related to its products, services, [procedures, policies, overall operations], or the complaint handling process itself, where a response or resolution is explicitly or implicitly expected.” These types of complaints exclude complaints against decisions related to the certification process, certified individuals or complaints related to alleged legal, financial, or regulatory issues, which will be handled by proper legal authorities. Appeals are not applicable to these type of complaints, as these complaints are not related to any certification decisions made by PECB MS. 

5. General Rules for Filing a Complaint or an Appeal

Some general rules for filing a complaint or an appeal are as in the following:

  1. By submitting a complaint or an appeal, any complainant commits to reporting facts completely and truthfully.

  2. Any complainant who provides any proven false statements will see their entire complaint or appeal terminated.

  3. Any unsubstantiated elements — not supported with real evidence — of a complaint or an appeal (hearsay, rumors, unproven accusations, etc.) will not be taken into consideration in any complaint or appeal.

  4. The Complaint and Appeal Policy does not deal with alleged illegal, financial, or regulatory issues. For any complaint or parts of a complaint related to alleged illegal, financial, or regulatory issues, PECB MS will respond by recommending that the complainant reaches the proper authorities and inform them that it will not deal with alleged illegal, financial, or regulatory issues. The only exception to this is if a complainant provides evidence that a legal decision has been rendered and asks PECB MS to deal with it (e.g., if a complainant provides evidence that a PECB MS affiliate or employee was the subject of a recent court decision).

  5. The Complaint and Appeal Policy does not deal with issues for which the deadlines to submit complaints and/or appeals have been reached.

  6. No complaint will be processed if it is done anonymously. Complainants must provide personal information, as described below under the instructions sections for filing complaints.

  7. If applicable, all complaints need to be shown to the individuals being complained against so that they can have an opportunity to respond. If the complainant does not give the authorization for the complaint to be shown to the person or function being complained against, the complaint will not be processed.

  8. If individuals exhibit querulous or persistent behavior, i.e., if they exercise their right to complain in an excessive or unreasonable manner, e.g., excessive complaints and/or appeals within a short period, repetitive complaints and/or appeals using the same arguments for settled issues, PECB MS will not process the complaint and/or appeal, without prior authorization from the Appeal Committee.

6. Certification Complaints

6.1 Procedure Overview

All complaints relating to the certification process are reviewed by the Operations Director and/or a designated employee assigned by him or her.  The designated employee will not be part of the staff involved in the assessment against which a certification complaint or appeal is being raised.

In the event that the individuals filing the certification complaint are not satisfied with the review and the decision made upon the complaint, they may consider filing an appeal.

Subsequently, PECB MS appoints an Appeal Board which is in charge of the appeal process and is accountable for safeguarding the impartiality with regard to the appeal.  

The Appeal Board is composed of at least three members with a majority of members being independent of the PECB MS personnel. Upon the request of the Appeal Board, the management will provide the board with all the necessary information, including the reasons for all significant decisions, actions, and the selection of persons responsible for particular activities, to allow PECB MS to ensure proper and impartial decision.

The Appeal Board is independent of management in their recommendations except as required by international or national law. If the recommendation of the board is not respected by the management, the board will take appropriate measures, which may include informing the accreditation body.

6.2 Criteria for Selecting the Appeal Board Members

The members of the Appeal Board are independent and impartial members assigned by PECB MS. In the event that a member or members of the Appeal Board have a conflict of interest, based upon the facts or circumstances of a specific appeal, including employment or other affiliations of the appellant, PECB MS management in conjunction with the Appeal Board will select a substitute member or members to hear and decide upon that claim. PECB MS has the right to appoint its Impartiality Ethics and Appeals (IEA) Committee members as Appeal Board members if the criteria are met.

6.3 Operating Procedure

6.3.1 Certification Complaint

When the person or organization disagrees with the certification decision made by PECB MS, they should submit a certification complaint in writing through e-mail or using the PECB MS website no later than 30 days after receiving the decision. Certification complaints received after 30 days will not be processed. 

The certification complaint, other than the personal information (full name, address, and other contact details) of the complainant, should include the complainant’s personal opinion about the decision, the reasons for disapproval of the decision reached, as well as the settlement being sought. A notice of acknowledgment will be sent by PECB MS within 24 hours following the certification complaint reception. The reception of the complaint triggers its initial assessment.

The submission, investigation, and decision on certification complaints will not result in any discriminatory actions against the complainant.

Certification complaints will be reviewed by the Operations Director and/or a designated employee assigned by him or her. The designated employee will not be part of the staff involved in the initial decision. The reviewer of the certification complaint should consider the complainant’s explanation and provide a written response, which includes:

  • A clear explanation, or a repeated explanation of the assessment decision following a re-evaluation of the evidence

The reviewer of the certification complaint should reply within 30 working days after receiving a complaint. The complainant will receive an answer on the decision reached in writing (via email).

If the complainant agrees with the outcome at this stage, the certification complaint does not proceed to further stages. 

If complainants are not satisfied with the outcome, then they may file an appeal, within 30 days from receiving the reply from PECB MS (see 6.3.2 Appeals Process).

If necessary, PECB MS will take appropriate correction and corrective actions. 

All certification complaints, including actions taken, will be tracked and recorded by PECB MS. 

6.3.1.1 Instructions on Filing a Certification Complaint 

To file a certification complaint, the following steps should be taken:

Go to: www.pecb-ms.com

  • Click "Contact" from top menu and use the online form;

  • Beside personal information (full name and email address), please write in the subject box: “Make a Complaint’ and in the message box your opinion about the assessment and why you are not satisfied with the first decision and second evaluation;

  • After providing all the requested information click on send message.

6.3.2 Appeal process

Where complainants disagree with the decisions of the certification complaint, they then may proceed to the appeal stage, explaining the reasons for disagreement.   

Steps to be followed by the appellant: 

  1. The appeal should be submitted after receiving the certification complaint decision and no later than 30 days after receiving the complaint decision.

  2. The appeal should be submitted in writing via the PECB MS website. 

  3. The appeal should include the Appeal Fees (if applicable).

  4. The appeal, besides the personal information (full name, address and other contact details) of the appellant, should include the opinion about the assessment and why the appellant is not satisfied with the decision, and PECB MS review done after the complaint.

Steps to be followed by PECB MS:

  1. PECB MS appoints an Appeal Board which is in charge of the appeal process and is accountable for safeguarding impartiality with regard to the appeal.

  2. The Appeal Board will respond to an appellant in writing (via email) within 60 days after receiving the appeal. It should be noted that this decision is absolute and final.

  3. The submission, investigation, and decision on appeals will not result in any discriminatory actions against the appellant.

  4. Appellants will be charged a fee of $200 per appeal. In case the appeal decision is in favor of the appellant, this fee will be reimbursed.

  5. If necessary, PECB MS will take appropriate correction and corrective actions. 

  6. All appeals, including actions taken, will be tracked and recorded by PECB MS.

6.3.2.1 Instructions for Filing an Appeal

Go to: www.pecb-ms.com

  • Click "Contact" from top menu and use the online form;

  • Beside personal information (full name and email address), please write in the subject box: “File an Appeal” and in the message box your opinion about the assessment and why you are not satisfied with the first, second evaluation and a review done after the complaint;

  • After providing all the requested information click on send message.

7. Operations Complaints

7.1 Procedure Overview

Operations complaints and all their relevant information will be recorded, upon its reception. The person wishing to make operations complaints can do so directly through the PECB MS website. Operations complaints received via email will be recorded in the PECB MS website (alongside with the email) by the receiver of the complaint. Only written operations complaints will be recorded. Verbal operations complaints will have to be converted into written form. Note: When submitting a complaint, it is important to write in the subject box: “Make a Complaint”.

In order for the operations complaints to be handled effectively, the complaint record must contain all the information necessary, including the complainant’s full name, email, and phone number, the department and staff member involved in the complaint, the description of the complaint, and the date. Once recorded, the operations complaints are to be tracked through the whole complaint handling process until the final decision.

A notice of acknowledgment is sent by PECB MS within 24 hours following the complaint reception. An initial assessment is conducted between 24 and 48 hours following the complaint reception.

7.2 Operating procedure

7.2.1 Operations Complaint Level 1

All operations complaints initiated are considered Level 1 and will be investigated and handled by the Head of Division (HoD) to whom the complaint has been addressed. The person initially addressing the operations complaints will investigate the complaint and offer a response to the complainant within 5 working days.

7.2.2 Operations Complaint Level 2

If the complainant is not satisfied with the response of Level 1 investigation, the complainant has the right to file for a Level 2 operations complaint. The complaint is assigned to the immediate supervisor of the HoD or top management to be investigated independently in coordination with any other independent employee designated for the investigation. 

During Level 2 support, the person responsible will assess the operations complaints. Based on the assessment, they will offer a response to the complainant within 30 working days. The response will be communicated in writing along with all evidence reviewed (if applicable). 

Once the response of the Level 2 investigation is received by the complainant, it is considered a final response from PECB MS, and at this stage, the complainant can only agree or disagree with the final response, but in either case, the process ends. In case there is a conflict of interest, real or implied, with the Level 2 support, e.g., between the HoD or top management and the complainant, an independent and external investigator will be appointed to conduct the Level 2 investigation.

7.3 Instructions for Filing Operations Complaints

All operations complaints must be submitted and communicated in writing via the PECB MS website based on the steps below: 

  1. Go to www.pecb-ms.com

  2. Click "Contact" from the top menu and use the online form;

  3. Beside personal information (full name and email address), please write in the subject box: “Make a Complaint’ and in the message box your opinion about the assessment and why you are not satisfied with the first decision and second evaluation;

  4. After providing all the requested information click on send message.

Information to include in your operations complaints:
Besides personal information (full name, email address, phone number), write in the message box the description of the operations complaint, the department and staff member involved, if applicable, and the date.