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APL Code of Conduct and Complaints Policy

APL Code of Conduct

Professional Landscaping Members of the Association must comply to the following criteria.
• On application be vetted by a panel of industry representatives and provide client and trade references.
• Maintain full Public Liability Insurance.
• Respond to client enquiries in a prompt and efficient manner.
• Identify and meet customer legislative and regulatory requirements. Deal with client concerns promptly, maintaining professionalism and courtesy.
• Cooperate fully with The APL complaint resolution process.
• Operate in an environmentally , ethical and commercially sustainable manner.
• Comply to the elimination of unlawful and unfair discrimination in the work place as stated in HTA Diversity and Inclusion Statement. Promote this through its own Equal Opportunities policies.
• Only provide services that are within the company’s areas of competence and always use appropriately trained staff.
• Be responsible for Health and Safety, welfare and actions of all staff and sub-contractors.
• Maintain the integrity , reputation and professionalism of The APL and the wider industry at all times. Adhere to all relevant legislation and seek to achieve the highest possible standards in business, professionalism and workmanship
• Accept that failure to follow this code will result in disciplinary action and potential expulsion from The Association of Professional Landscapers.


APL Complaints Process

In the unfortunate event that during or on completion of works there seems the need to raise a complaint, the client or the member may contact The Association of Professional Landscapers (APL) directly. This contact will initiate the APL’s “Complaints Resolution Procedure”.
Complaints are treated seriously and are responded to within 2 working days of their receipt.
All APL members are required to adhere to APL complaints procedure. If a complaint arises where their own procedure fails, and a resolution cannot be achieved, APL members are required to follow the agreed APL procedure.
It is important to note that complaints are contractually between the parties involved and that the APL is simply acting as a facilitating 3rd party during the duration of this procedure.
1. Unresolved complaint arrives from a client or member by email, telephone or post to the APL.
2. The APL administrator or General Manager (GM) will check current membership status of the landscaper in question.
3. If the business is not an APL member the APL is unable to assist further in regard to the complaint however, it will advise the complainant to either contact their local Trading Standards office or Citizen Advice service for further help; https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/
4. If for any reason the landscaper in question is not a current APL member but is using any of its associated logos i.e. APL, HTA or TrustMark, the APL administrator or GM will initiate the infringement policy procedure. A letter and email should be forwarded to the landscaper instructing them to remove all references immediately. If the landscaper does not comply within the deadline set (usually 30 days), the APL administrator will inform the local Trading Standards office, and TrustMark directly.
5. If the landscaper in question is an APL member, the APL administrator or GM will establish what communication, if any, has taken place between both parties. If no communication has taken place, where possible the APL will instruct the complainant to attempt to resolve the issues either verbally with written confirmation, or in writing (by hand or email). This needs to be completed within 7 days.
6. In the meantime, the APL administrator or GM will contact the respondent to notify them of the complaint, and to recommend they communicate with the complainant to resolve the issues.
7. If there is no response within 7 days, the APL will contact the respondent and advise them of the next steps. It is important to note that both parties must engage in the process. If not, alternative actions will be suggested by the APL and the case will be closed. If it is the member who failed to comply, then the APL disciplinary panel will be notified, and the disciplinary procedure may be instigated.
8. If the issues cannot be resolved through this stage, the APL administrator or GM will send the APL Complaints Initiation Form to the complainant to detail their complaint. The form and any relevant supporting information i.e. contract documentation, email communications, photographic evidence etc., must be returned to the APL by post or electronically within 7 days.
9. On receipt of a completed APL Complaints Initiation Form from either party, the case is then classed as an official complaint. A Complaint Response Form is then sent to the respondent to reply within 7 days.
10. At this point, the APL administrator or GM will create a case file on the member’s CRM record so that all the correspondence details are logged to the system.
11. It should be noted that if the APL member does not respond to any communication from the APL in connection with the complaint made against them, the case will be referred to the APL disciplinary panel and the disciplinary procedure may be instigated.
12. On receipt of the completed APL Response Form the APL administrator or GM will review the case together with the APL General Manager and APL Complaints Panel, with necessary input from any appropriate APL Committee Members (dependent on the complaint and technical issues). The Panel will then undertake a desktop review of the client’s or members complaint and the contractor/designer’s/clients defence material.
13. A site visit may be required by a member of the APL Team to obtain extra images or video to clarify points in the complaint. This is an extra information gathering exercise and is not a visit that represents a full assessment.
It should be noted that no independent site visit to fully inspect works and provide reports is available as part of The APL free process. If it gets to the stage that this is required, The APL would be happy to sign post you to an appropriate organisation who can supply this service. The contract would then fall between yourselves and this party. The APL would then consider the case closed on their records.
14. A report will be drawn up within 7 days after the desktop review and made available to both parties and where possible suggestions of a suitable course of action. Please note, these are just suggestions and have no legal jurisdiction or right to enforce. Both parties may either take this advice or, seek an alternative course of resolution which the APL can advise on. We aim for reports from any site visit to be made available no more than 10 days after the visit is completed.
15. After the reports have been served, they complete the APL involvement in the case. Reports are advisory and offered strictly as suggestions as part of this facilitation process, they would be usable if the case was taken down further formal or legal proceedings. At this juncture The APL will step back from the case but will be willing to advise on the next steps via Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). The case will be recorded and closed and no further facilitation will take place.
16. The APL will not be able, or willing to facilitate in any financial negotiations on behalf of the client or member.
17. It should be noted that if it is identified that works within the complaint point to substandard performance by the member and there is a resistance by said member to correct their work. The member will be suspended, and an investigation will be conducted. This could lead to possible expulsion from the APL membership.
18. If at any stage during this process either party take legal action, the APL will not be able to take any further part in the process and will step down. However, dependent on the final outcome, the APL Disciplinary Panel will review the APL Member’s membership status, to ensure they continue to comply with TrustMark and the APL Code of Conduct.
19. It should be noted that if a member receives more than 1 complaint against them in a 12 month period, this will be investigated by the APL disciplinary panel and could result in suspension for up to 6 months as per the APL disciplinary procedure.