Complaints, Grievances and Disputes
Investigations and Disciplinary Hearings (taken from the ICB's Code of Professional Conduct), a full copy of the ICB's Code of Professional Conduct can be downloaded here.
To lodge a complaint against an ICB member, complete and return to ICB the Member Complaint Form available here.
- Any complaint received by or initiated by the Institute shall be referred to a director of the Institute who shall for this purpose be appointed to investigate or make inquiries about the complaint for the purpose of enabling the Board to deal with it ["the Investigations Officer"]
- Upon the making of a complaint, the Investigations Officer shall write to the member notifying him/her of the substance of the complaint and inviting him to comment upon it within 21 days of the date of the Investigation Officer's letter
- If it appears to the Investigating Officer that sufficient investigations have been undertaken, the Investigations Officer shall convene a meeting of not less than two members of the Board to consider the accusation: ["the Disciplinary Panel"]
- The member about whom the complaint has been received must have not less than 14 clear days notice of the hearing before the Disciplinary Panel. The notice shall be in writing and sufficient service shall be made by sending it by registered post to the address shown on the member's Institute membership records
- The Investigating Officer shall attend to explain the substance of the complaint and present the evidence of any complaint and ask questions of the member (should he elect to give evidence) before the Disciplinary Panel but shall not participate in the considerations of the Disciplinary Panel
- On a finding by a majority of the Disciplinary Tribunal present that any complaint is proved beyond reasonable doubt may deal with the complaint by making either no order or by any one or more of the following penalties in respect of that complaint:
- be given a informal or formal warning
- be fined up to $2,000
- be suspended from all or any of the privileges of membership for a stated period of time
- be expelled from the Institute and will then immediately forfeit his interest and privileges in the Institute without further claim for calls and for any other money paid to the Institute, but will remain liable for any calls, annual membership fees or other money outstanding at the date of expulsion
- be ordered to pay all or any part of the costs of the investigation or hearing
Complaints, grievances or disputes must be provided to the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers in writing. They will be handled by the ICB Board, and in a timely manner, with due consideration to the rights of each party and adequate time for communication.
Outcomes may include requirements for members to undertake further education, censure, disciplinary action or suspension or termination of membership.
The ICB's Annual Report will include statistics on the kinds of complaints, findings made and actions taken, Member names will not be published.
Complaints Reports and Statistics
It is our duty (as a Professional Association) to inform you of the complaints received, specifically the requirement is to advise on complaints about members, however we provide ancillary comment below.
During the 2018 year, we received formal complaints about three members. In all instances ICB have engaged with the members and provided the required advice as appropriate.
Case #1 raised the issue of professionalism in the hand over process between two bookkeepers at the cessation of an engagement. The new bookkeeper alleged work for a particular period of engagement by the member was not completed and had to be redone, for which they charged the client. ICB helped establish that an appropriate handover and cessation of the previous bookkeeper had not been permitted by the business nor was a handover provided in any form . The complaint was withdrawn.
The case highlights the importance of a handover process and communication. ICB members should provide a status report in all situations.
Case #2 raised the issue of professionalism when dealing with other parties at the cessation of a client engagement. Member (A) was contacted by Member (B) requesting information to take over a client, to which member (A) responded in a manner not aligned with how we believe a professional bookkeeper should respond. A complaint was lodged by both members as to the conduct of the other with both ICB and the TPB. A professional certified bookkeeper should always act in a professional manner at all stages of communication, especially when the relationship ends unexpectedly or abruptly. No further communication in relation to their complaints was received or requested, and a further internal review deemed the outcome of the TPB complaints process would provide for further action if required.
Case #3 raised the issue of professionalism and independence when ceasing work with a client. As noted for Case #2 the professional communication expected under the code of conduct continues beyond the cessation of a client engagement to dealings with all stakeholders. The member was cautioned that getting involved in defending the actions or reputations of a third party should still be conducted with professionalism and removal of emotion. It was deemed that no further action was to be taken.
Other We also received a number of complaints in relation to the business practices of an HR Advice Service. These matters were referred directly to the HR Advice provider for resolution. Due to varying factors, complaints from members being a contributing factor, the partnership with the HR Provider was not renewed in 2018.
During the 2017 year, we received formal complaints about two members. In both instances ICB have spoken with and provided the required advice and caution to the members concerned.
Case #1 raised the issue of Independence whereby as a professional certified bookkeeper it is your requirement to remain professionally (and personally) independent of the business and the individuals. The issue arose on the cessation of the business partnership and each partner then establishing competing businesses causing accusations and confusion over who did what to who and for who.
Case #2 raised the issue of professionalism when ceasing work with a client. A professional certified bookkeeper should always provide a status report upon the cessation of an engagement. In this way there is documented evidence of the status of the work at the point of cessation, eve if the work is only partially complete.
We also received a number of concerns about the performance of an Educator that was previously listed as an ICB Accredited Training Provider. These matters were referred to the Educator for resolution. Due to the frequency and nature of complaints ICB has not purused the ongoing Accredition of that Educator.
We also received numerous complaints about the behaviour of superfunds demanding behaviour of employers that is not in line with requirements. We also dealt with many matters as to interactions with the ATO that did not always go according to the design of the ATO. ICB passed on a number of complaints to the Tax Practitioners Board on behalf of members about the behaviour of unregistered Agents. While these matters are outside the domain of the ICB complaints process, they remain within our sphere of involvement and influence.
During 2016 we received one formal complain about the behaviour of a member. Due to the complainant wishing to remain completely confidential we were unable to undertake comprehensive action however ICB did consult and advise with the member concerned.
Complaints Received and Resolved
Please address all formal complaints to:
The Institute of Certified Bookkeepers
Rialto South Tower
525 Collins Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Email to Admin@icb.org.au