It is advised that all employers implement Grievance procedures in a work place. If an employee is unhappy with their working conditions or any other subject matter at work they are advised to informally discuss any issues to begin with a senior member of staff before raising an official grievance with an employer.
As of the 6th April 2009 the ACAS Code of Practice on grievance should be followed in all cases and can lead to Employment Tribunal proceedings if not , the main focus of the new code of practice is for employers and their employees to informally try to resolve grievances without the need for any formal procedures taking place. If informal discussions will not resolve the issues of the grievance a formal hearing must take place and an employee is requested to attend to discuss the issues arisen. An employee may bring along a witness to accompany them to the meeting.
Grievances in all cases should be handled without delay and all evidence given to the employer should be supported and verified as well as being reliable.
See a brief overview of the code summarised below:
Handling Grievances at Work
An employee must inform their employer of the nature of the grievance
- If for some reason an informal grievance cannot be resolved, the employee should raise the matter formally to a Manager or senior staff member who is not related to the grievance subject in any way. This procedure must be done in writing without delay and should set forth the absolute nature of the grievance to the employer.
- Once a formal grievance has been filed an employer needs to arrange a meeting with the employee and if required a 3rd person may accompany the employee to the meeting.
- Every effort should be made by Employers, Employees and their witnesses to attend the meeting and employees should be allowed to speak freely regarding the subject of the grievance and any resolution process they think necessary. If any investigation should take place following the grievance hearing the meeting may be adjourned until a further date to allow time for the investigation to take place.
- Employees have the legal right to attend a grievance meeting which deals with a complaint about an employer that is not fulfilling their duty owed to the employee, accompanied by someone else as a witness if necessary.
- The accompanying person may be a fellow colleague, a trade union official or a representative of the trade union, however a representative that is not an official must be qualified and certified by their union to accompany an employee to a grievance meeting.
- To have the right to be accompanied at a grievance meeting an employee must first make a reasonable request to do so. What would be classed as reasonable would depend on the circumstances of the grievance for each individual case. It would not be reasonable if an employee requests to be accompanied by someone from a remote geographical location or a companion whose presence would jeopardise the meeting.
- The 3rd person who is accompanying the employee is allowed to sum up the employees case, confer with the employee during the meeting and respond to any views expressed on behalf of the employee, this does not mean they can answer any questions on behalf of the employee or address the hearing on behalf of the employee without their consent or prevent the employer from stating or explaining their case.
The appropriate action will be decided by the employer following the grievance meeting.
- The employer will decide after the meeting what action will be taken if any and once a decision is made they should communicate this with the employee as soon as possible in writing. This should explain in full how the employer intends to resolve the case.
- Any notes taken throughout the investigation would not be included in the written letter to the employee as this would breach others confidentiality such as the witness, unless prior consent was given by the witness or the circumstances were reasonable enough to disclose it.
- If the employee is not happy with the action that has been taken towards their grievance they are in their full rights to appeal the decision and must do so as soon as possible.
The employer must allow their employee to appeal if necessary
- If for any reason the employee feels their grievance has not been resolved to their satisfaction they should appeal. They need to state to their employer the reasons for their appeal in writing without unnecessary delay.
- An appeal should be heard at a time and place convenient for the employee as soon as possible, the employee should be notified in advance about the appeal hearing.
- A manager who has not been previously involved in the case must deal with the appeal with an open- mind.
- Again any employee has the legal right to a representative to accompany them at the appeal hearing.
- Any outcome following the appeal should always be communicated in writing to the employee without unnecessary delay.
If an employer fails to follow the correct code of conduct whilst dealing with grievance it does not mean an employer is liable to any employment Tribunal proceedings. An Employment Tribunal will be aware the code has not been followed correctly and can reduce or increase the awards given to an employee.
If an employee raises a grievance whilst on disciplinary the disciplinary process will be suspended for the grievance to be heard, however if the subject of the grievance and the disciplinary are of the same issue they will be heard and decided together according to the code.