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How we work with and support members

ABPO has always provided support and encouragement to its membership in terms of career development, progression and work related disputes. However, in recent years, there has been an increasing number of complaints, grievances
and disciplinaries pertaining to ABPO members. With this in mind, we feel it is useful to provide members with information on processes for receiving relevant support, and what they can expect to receive from the Association once contact
is made.

What is meant by support?

ABPO believes that support begins with empathy demonstrated by all concerned.

  • Offering advice and empowerment to individuals, so that they can take appropriate action and decisions whether that be regarding career development or in dealing with issues of unequal treatment.
  • Networking colleagues for support/advice.
  • Support for colleagues who feel isolated when issues of racism or other forms of discrimination occur.
  • Guidance on policies and procedures regarding ABPO and local employers.
  • Someone to talk to through a range of people.

Policies and Procedures

  • Disciplinary – This procedure is used by management when they believe that you have acted in a manner which amounts to misconduct, or which is in breach of rules of conduct.
  • Capability – Management telling you that your work, in some respect, has not been of a sufficiently high standard, and telling you how and in what ways to improve.
  • Grievance – You feeling that management or colleagues have not taken an issue sufficiently seriously. Similarly, have reached a decision by not following the correct procedure, or perhaps have made the wrong decision and are not prepared to overturn it.
  • Harassment – Your feeling that you have been treated by a colleague or client in a racist, oppressive or other discriminatory manner, and that you want it to stop, and/or action to be taken.
  • External agencies, such as Industrial Tribunals and Northern Complainant Aid can be contacted for advice.

What should you do?

If you have an issue which is causing concern, or which you have tried but failed to resolve on an individual basis, your first step should be to:

  • Familiarise yourself with your employers policies and procedures and where necessary any external documentation based on employment legislation (e.g. maternity rights, religious and cultural observances etc).
  • Record a clear log of who said or did what, where and when, dates, times, situation and witnesses. Discuss the situation with your line manager (provided the conflict is not with your line manager). Also discuss with other Black colleagues or a trusted friend. Approach whoever is available and with whom you feel comfortable.
  • Next step should be to approach your Regional Convener. As a rule, the earlier you decide to discuss your situation with the Regional Convener, the less isolated you are and the better the possibility for a satisfactory resolution.

What can you expect from your Regional Convener?

  • Provide you with information/advice on how to resolve/take matters further, or direct you to a range of resources.
  • Encourage, support and respect the individual in whatever decision they reach.
  • Provide you with contact names of ABPO members in your area who could offer immediate support/advice (JNC trained members are available in areas).
  • Monitor the overall situation both locally and nationally through the ABPO central office.
  • There are external procedures that run parallel with advice from Regional Conveners. These have set time procedures, e.g. Industrial Tribunals.
  • You should bear in mind that your Regional Convener may not get any workload relief for their role, and may not necessarily have to hand the answers or be best placed to work alone on your situation. In view of this, the Convener may well refer you to a colleague experienced in representation when such issues arise.
  • All matters that you discuss with your Regional Convener will be treated in confidence, unless you specify otherwise. You will be asked whether any, or how much, can be discussed in total confidence at Regional ABPO/Executive Committee meetings. The level of involvement of the Regional Convener is determined by the individual’s particular needs and desired outcomes.

What should your Regional Convener expect from you?

  • Clarity about your situation – be as clear and concise as possible about your situation and desired outcomes.
  • You should be as accurate about your situation as possible, and inform your Regional Convener of any changes and developments, including the progress of the matter.
  • You should be open to hearing other points of view and willing to explore the issues presented in that context.

What if you are not happy with your representation?

Approach your Regional Convener, if you feel comfortable and able to do so, outlining your concerns.
Approach other ABPO members for advice.
There are various avenues within ABPO that are available to you (e.g. refer to the ABPO Code of Conduct and the Complaints Procedure).

Executive Committee member representation

It is possible, in certain circumstances (depending on the nature of your case), to have another member of the Executive Committee represent you.

Formal Proceedings

After formal proceedings have been exhausted, without a satisfactory resolution, a member can request that a Regional Convener, or ABPO member, formally support them. Formal representation is usually conducted by a recognised union representative, although on occasions and through negotiations with Napo, UNISON or any other union, ABPO can act as the representative. If the Regional Convener, or ABPO member, is unable to provide support/representation, they or the NationalCo-Ordinator, will seek to ensure that another member is able to do so.

If appropriate, and on the individual’s request, issues of gender and ethnicity will be taken into consideration when deciding upon appropriate support/representation.

There are external procedures that can run parallel with the internal procedure, e.g. registering with the Industrial Tribunal (within 3 months of invoking the complaint). This time scale is crucial.


There is an expectation that individual’s requesting support will be paid up members of the Association. In fairness, if anyone is able to receive support regardless of their status, there is no incentive in investing in the organisation. As Black people, however, we are still able to offer advice and support to non-members purely as a colleague, but not as an ABPO member.

Who is a Member?

A person becomes a member once their payment has been received. We would strongly encourage individuals after attending at least two Regional Meetings to become a member. This is to provide protection to members in terms of confidentiality and Code of Conduct. Where someone is not a member, it would be difficult to hold them accountable to those principles.

Code of Conduct

Contact your local Regional Convener or the ABPO central office for a copy of the Association’s Code of Conduct.


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