How should a grievance be handled? 

How should a grievance be handled?

In order to handle a grievance effectively your organisation or business must have in place a robust discipline and grievance policy and procedure. 

As an employer it is important to follow a grievance procedure to make sure you have done everything appropriate to deal with the matter. Following a procedure will take emotion, hearsay, personal opinion and bias out of the matter. You deal with the facts of the situation in an ordered and systematic way.  Avoiding the possibility of you and your company being accused of unfair treatment of staff and possibly ending up in front of an employment tribunal.

What is a Grievance?

A grievance is a concern, problem or complaint that a member of staff raises. The grievance could be about anything in relation to the workplace. It could be about another member of staff, management, working conditions, workloads. So there are no limitations on what a grievance could be about.

Staff should be encouraged to informally discuss grievances with their managers before raising a formal grievance. And this can be done in one to one sessions, team meetings or in general day to day communications. Staff should be encouraged to be open and honest and comfortable raising concerns. And managers should be trained to listen, engage and respond appropriately. In many cases this resolves issues and prevents concerns and problems from becoming serious. However, in some cases the issue may be too big to solve in this way and then a grievance procedure is necessary.

What is a Grievance Procedure?

All businesses and companies must have an up to date grievance policy and procedure in place. This will outline exactly how grievances should be dealt with. This could be found in:

A company handbook

Human Resources manual

HR Internet site

Employment contract

The grievance procedure outlines clearly the steps which need to take place. Importantly they include:

The employee putting in writing their grievance – This letter should include details of the grievance. Perhaps it could include how they wish the matter be resolved. The letter should be dated and all parties should keep a copy. 

A meeting set up to discuss the grievance – Firstly the manager must set up a meeting to discuss the grievance. Accordingly all parties must agree on a reasonable time and place and attend the meeting. Normally the meeting will involve going through the issues raised giving everyone the opportunity to comment. Ideally the meeting will establish facts and explore ways to resolve the problem. The meeting can be carried over into a second meeting if further information is required. The employee is entitled to be accompanied by another person such as a colleague or trade union official. 

A decision – Clearly made with actions if necessary, within an acceptable, agreed timescale. 

Appeal –  Employees have the right to appeal if they are not satisfied with the decision.

Appealing a workplace grievance procedure

An employee is entitled to appeal a grievance decision. Firstly they must have written a grievance letter, attended a grievance meeting, allowed for the agreed timescale. But they remain dissatisfied with the decision made or believe the procedure was not fair or appropriate. Indeed, should the matter go to an Industrial Employment Tribunal it is essential that both parties have followed the grievance procedure. This will be taken into account when judgement is made on the matter.

Firstly the employee must state clearly why they are appealing the decision and explain why they do not agree with it. Secondly, as an employer you may then arrange another meeting to discuss the appeal. At this stage it is appropriate for a more senior manager to attend. This meeting will be similar to the first and will again involve an agreed timescale by which time the employer must write to the employee with a final decision.

Industrial Tribunal and Fair Employment Tribunal

Only at this stage, if an employee remains dissatisfied and have exhausted all other options, can they now escalate the matter to a Tribunal. These are legal proceedings and will involve a third party becoming involved. Each party will present their side and a judgement will be made.

Training

Engage in Learning provide and online Discipline and Grievance training course. This course will help you understand policies and procedures, apply these in your work and know who to talk to if you have questions or concerns on the issue.

You can view our online Discipline and Grievance training course here.