As the HR manager of a department store, a member of staff has made a complaint against a worker who is employed by one of the store’s concession brands. Who is legally responsible?

Because the complaint has been made by your own employee, as a matter of good practice you need to look into this. However, as it does not involve one of your employees, you will need the input of the concession brand to progress the matter.

Sarah Clayton, employment partner at law firm Heatons LLP advises checking the wording of the concession agreement first. Then, speak to the complainant and obtain details. “You may be able to resolve the matter informally with the agreement of your employee, particularly if the complaint is not of a serious nature,” says Clayton. But she adds that you should seek the concession brand’s consent before speaking to its employee to reach an informal resolution.

If the matter cannot be dealt with informally, notify your employee that they must raise the complaint in writing. “Explain that you will have to deal with their complaint with the concession brand and will therefore need to send them a copy of the complaint,” says Clayton.

Once you have received the complaint, send a copy to the concession and agree the process with it. It is likely to want to interview its own employees, but may be prepared to let the department store do so. Once the investigation is complete, elect an appropriate manager to decide upon the grievance. If it is upheld, the concession brand will need to take necessary action against its own employee or you may be able to take action if this is in your concession agreement.