How To Deal With a Grievance In The Workplace
by Hermione Avila - Paralegal
27 June 2012, filed under Employment
A grievance is the term used for an issue or problem raised by an employee to their employer. There could be a number of different things that could cause concern to an employee in the workplace and these include but are not limited to: company policies, bullying or harassment in the workplace, changes to terms and conditions of employment, health and safety, working relations or discrimination.
It is preferable to deal with an employee’s grievance in an informal and friendly manner with a line manager who knows the employee and works well with them. However, unfortunately this is not always possible and for that reason it is important to have a formal company grievance procedure in place for times when an informal process is not suitable or has not worked out. An example of a time when an informal meeting with the line manager would be inappropriate is if the line manager’s behaviour is actually what the employee has taken issue with. Your company does not have to have a contractual grievance procedure but it is often helpful if such procedures are contained within a company handbook and that all your employees are issued with a handbook so that they are informed.
Whilst there is no employment legislation on how to handle an employee’s grievance, should a subsequent claim be made in the Employment Tribunal against you as the employer, the Tribunal will take a very dim view of an employer who did not do everything they possibly could to resolve the grievance amicably.
A grievance by an employee becomes a formal grievance when they set out the details of their grievance in writing. This is when it is appropriate for the formal grievance procedure to commence.
When arranging a formal grievance hearing you should write to the employee confirming the place, date and time of the hearing. This should ideally be on one of the employee’s working days and be mutually convenient. In the grievance hearing invitation letter any evidence that will be relied on by either party should be included and the employee should be given the right to be accompanied to the meeting for moral support. The most appropriate person to accompany an employee is a fellow work colleague or trade union representative if available. If the grievance concerns the employee’s line manager then you must consider who else may be suitable to hold the grievance hearing. Any notes, or minutes made at the meeting should be copied and given to the employee.
Once both sides have been able to present their case and any issues it may be necessary to adjourn the hearing to get further evidence. If no further evidence is needed then you should confirm to the employee that the result of the grievance will be communicated to them within a certain timeframe (it is important that no “snap” decisions are made as this may make the employee think their grievance is not being considered properly). A reasonable time frame to respond to the grievance would be five working days. When you communicate the outcome of the grievance to an employee you must also notify them of the right to appeal the decision you have found.
Should you need any further information please refer to our employment section.
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