By law employers must set out a grievance procedure and share it in writing with all employees, eg in their statement of employment or staff handbook.
1) It must include:
Who the employee should contact about a grievance
How to contact this person
2) It should also:
Say that if the problem can’t be resolved informally, there will be a meeting with the employee, called a grievance hearing. Set out time limits for each stage of the process. Identify who to contact if the normal contact person is involved in the grievance. Explain how to appeal a grievance decision. State that employees can be accompanied in any meetings by a colleague or union representative. Outline what happens if a grievance is raised during disciplinary action
You don’t have to include information about the grievance procedure in employment contracts. However, if you do, you must follow the procedure, or the employee could bring a breach of contract claim against you.
3) Acas Code of Practice:
The Acas Code of Practice isn’t legally binding. However, an employment tribunal can reduce or increase any money awarded in a case by up to 25% if the code hasn’t been followed
4) Grievance Handling…
These are the 5 steps:
INFORMAL ACTION – Initially and as soon as they can the line manager should have a quiet word with the employee making the complaint. Problems can often be settled quickly and informally in the course of everyday work. However, if the grievance is not settled at this stage or circumstances make this route inappropriate then, if they have not already done so, the employee should be requested to submit a formal Grievance letter.
INVITE EMPLOYEE TO A FORMAL MEETING – This should be held in a private and confidential room between the Manager designated to hear the Grievance and the employee who may be accompanied by a work colleague or Trade Union official. This is the opportunity for the grievance to be thoroughly discussed and any witnesses called.
INVESTIGATION – Depending on the complexity of the grievance it may be necessary to adjourn the meeting so that further investigation may take place before any decision is taken.
COMMUNICATE DECISION & KEEP RECORDS – After the grievance meeting and any investigations have taken place, the employer needs to decide whether to uphold or dismiss the grievance and communicate this decision to the employee in writing without unreasonable delay, usually within 10 working days.The HR Director or Manager handling the employee grievance must ensure that the minutes of all formal grievance meetings are taken and copies given to the employee for information. The minute taker should not be part of the discussions about the outcome of the grievance or appeal other than to record the key points of the discussion.
APPEAL – if the Grievance is rejected or partially rejected then the employee has the right to appeal against that decision. The appeal should be heard promptly and wherever possible by a Manager not previously involved in the case. The employee may be accompanied as before and notified in writing of the decision, again within 10 working days is standard practice.
THE 2 GOLDEN RULES OF HANDLING EMPLOYEE GRIEVANCES
A very helpful question to ask an employee raising a grievance is “what outcome do you want from this grievance?” This tends to focus the employee’s mind on the solution he or she is looking for rather than just the problem.
BE PREPARED FOR A GRIEVANCE. Check that there is an up to date procedure in place, published in the handbook, that supports the resolution of grievance issues in your workplace.