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Complaints, Disputes and Appeals

The W+ Standard and its administration is only as effective as its stakeholders, beneficiaries and project implementers think it is.  Therefore, WOCAN will make every reasonable effort to address complaints or disputes.

The following policy is also included in the W+ Program guide.

1.        Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to ensure fast and appropriate handling of disputes,complaints and appeals related to the W+Standard. Any interested party may register a complaint or dispute to WOCAN and may, if they feel it necessary, appeal any decision to the WOCAN Board of Directors.

2.     Overview

A record of all complaints, disputes and appeals is maintained internally.

Complaints may be registered with the W+ Standard Coordinator at:

Examples of possible complaints include concerns about the completion of certification requirements, issues with the certification process, misuse of the certification marks, or misleading marketing related to certification.

Complaints should include specific information about the issue, circumstances and parties involved as would be necessary to resolve the problem.

The W+ Standard Coordinator is responsible for coordinating a response to the complaint, tracking and documenting the resolution of the issue to closure.

If the complaint is about the W+ Standard Coordinator, the complaint may be filed with the Executive Director of WOCAN.

3.     Receiving Complaints:

The W+ Standard Coordinator will:

-- Determine whether the complaint refers to a new,completed or ongoing project.

-- Acknowledge receipt of the complaint and provide information about how the complaint will be handled.

-- Document all correspondence and progress including dates and any relevant information.

-- Evaluate whether the complaint is valid and if resolution of the complaint falls within WOCAN’s scope and authority to address.

-- Coordinate an initial response to the complaint with in five working days of the receipt of a complaint.

Have an overall understanding of the complaints received, perform root cause analysis, and if needed, propose corrective actions and check on the implementation of corrective actions.

4.     Investigating and Responding to Complaints

The W+ Standard Coordinator is responsible for pursuing a complaint to its conclusion. That role includes:

-- Deciding if an immediate or corrective action is needed,considering ot her complaints received

-- Informing relevant persons

-- Acting if appropriate to the W+ Standard Coordinator’s scope, or otherwise planning an appropriate course of action

-- Recording actions taken

-- Responding to the complaining party

If the complaining party does not accept the W+Standard Coordinator’s response, she/he will be advised of the appeals procedure. Information related to the handling of complaints shall be kept confidential.

5.     Disputes

Disputes may be registered with the W+ Standard Coordinator by a W+ Standard Applicant (a project developer or project implementer) or a Verifier.  Examples of disputes include a disagreement regarding the interpretation of a certification requirement or a disagreement regarding a verification outcome.

Disputes are to be handled as follows:

-- If the dispute relates to non-fulfillment of a clear requirement, the dispute shall not be considered a dispute.

-- If the dispute relates to the interpretation of a requirement, the W+ Standard Coordinator will first mediate the dispute, if additional interpretation is needed, the W+ Standard Coordinator will seek the input of the Standard Committee of the Advisory Council

-- The W+ Standard Coordinator will document the interpretation and communicate the response to all parties involved in the dispute.

-- If the disputing party does not accept the interpretation, they may avail themselves of the appeals procedure.

6.  Appeals

Appeals may be registered with the W+ Standard Coordinator by any interested party with a valid complaint.

Examples of appeals include an appeal of certification outcome, and other disputes that could not be resolved as indicated above. Appeals received by the W+ Standard Coordinator are handled as follows:

-- The W+ Standard Coordinator shall promptly engage the WOCAN Executive Director who will act as the representative of the appellant to the WOCAN Board of Directors.

-- The W+ Standard Coordinator is responsible for the documenting, monitoring and the coordinating a formal, written response.

-- The appellant will be informed by the W+ Standard Coordinator of the receipt of the appeal, the appeal handling process, including their option to present their case to the WOCAN Board of Directors personally, and the persons engaged in the appeal process.

-- All WOCAN personnel involved in the appeal process shall ensure that no discriminatory action occurs to the appellant because of the appeal.

The decision reached by the WOCAN Board of Directors shall be communicated to the appellant in writing by someone not previously involved in the subject of the appeal and will be final.

If the appeal has the potential to lead to legal or financial consequences for WOCAN, then legal staff shall be notified as soon as possible.

The appellant will be provided reports and a formal notice of the outcome of the appeal.

Information related to the handling of appeals shall be kept confidential.

7.     Corrective Action

The W+ Standard Coordinator, in consultation with the WOCAN Executive Director, shall review the outcome of all complaints, disputes, and appeals on an annual basis and, where appropriate, initiate action to prevent repetition and achieve improvements in the delivery of services.

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