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Handling Grievances
 

Handling Grievances

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ven in well-run businesses, it may sometimes be necessary to deal with employees' grievances....

ven in well-run businesses, it may sometimes be necessary to deal with employees' grievances.

Therefore it's crucial that you have written grievance procedures. If problems do arise, these procedures should help you and your employee resolve them within the workplace. They should also ensure that you deal with employees' grievances fairly.

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  • a really great informative slideshow - legal advice can be so expensive so it is great that there are resources out there, especially for small employers
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    Handling Grievances Handling Grievances Document Transcript

    • Handling grievances Table of contents Handling grievances 2 Introduction 2 Grievance procedures and the employment contract 2 Setting out your grievance procedure 3 The statutory grievance procedures 4 Preparing for a grievance hearing 6 Holding a grievance hearing 6 Appeals against grievance decisions 7 Helplines 9 Related guides on businesslink.gov.uk 9 Related web sites you might find useful 9 Created by Business Link on 16 September 2009 14:43 You can personalise content from the Business Link website and download it in PDF format. This is a free service Handling grievances | Created by Business Link on 16 September 2009 14:43 è Crown copyright 2007 Page 1
    • Handling grievances Subjects covered in this guide Introduction Introduction Even in well-run businesses, it may Grievance procedures and the employment sometimes be necessary to deal with contract employees' grievances. Setting out your grievance procedure Therefore it's crucial that you have written grievance procedures. If problems do arise, The statutory grievance procedures these procedures should help you and your employee resolve them within the Preparing for a grievance hearing workplace. They should also ensure that you deal with employees' grievances fairly. Holding a grievance hearing Appeals against grievance decisions Your rules and procedures should be set out in writing and follow the good-practice Helplines principles set out in the Acas code of practice on disciplinary and grievance Related guides on businesslink.gov.uk procedures. Related web sites you might find useful Failure to meet either of these requirements may result in extra compensation for the employee if they succeed in a tribunal claim. You can find this guide by navigating to: This guide outlines what you need to put in your procedures and how to handle Home > Employing people > Disciplinary grievances issues in practice. problems, disputes and grievances > Handling grievances Grievance procedures and the employment contract By law, you must inform each employee of: • the name of the person to whom they should apply to seek redress for a grievance • how they should make this application This information can be included in the employee's written statement or the written statement may refer the employee to a document where they may read it, eg in a Handling grievances | Created by Business Link on 16 September 2009 14:43 è Crown copyright 2007 Page 2
    • Handling grievances staff handbook. skilled staff through resignation. It will also help you successfully defend any claim for: If you fail to provide this information to an employee, they could be awarded two or • constructive dismissal - see our four weeks' pay - but only if they succeed in guide on dismissal another employment tribunal claim against • unlawful discrimination - see our you, eg unlawful discrimination. guide on how to prevent discrimination and value diversity The contractual status of grievance procedures The duty to provide a grievance procedure Your grievance procedure does not automatically form part of an employment You must provide each of your employees contract. Therefore, an employee cannot with a written grievance procedure. Your claim breach of contract if you fail to follow procedure should follow the good-practice it. principles set out in the Acas code of practice on disciplinary and grievance However, if you choose to make your procedures. procedure contractual and you fail to follow it when dealing with a grievance, the If you unreasonably fail to follow the code employee could bring a breach-of-contract and the issue ends up at an employment claim against you. tribunal, the tribunal could increase the employee's compensation by up to 25 per See our guide on the employment cent. contract or use our interactive tool to create a written statement of employment Read dispute resolution guidance on the - Opens in a new window. Acas website - Opens in a new window. The content of a grievance procedure Setting out your grievance The exact nature of your procedure will procedure depend on the size and structure of your If an employee has concerns or complaints organisation. However, any procedure about their work, employment terms, should be easy to follow and aim to settle working conditions or relationships with grievances fairly and quickly. It should also colleagues, they may want to discuss them indicate that you will try to resolve most or bring them to your attention. They will complaints and grievances informally, eg by then want you to address and, if possible, discussions with the employee's immediate resolve these grievances. manager. The best way to do this is to have a The procedure should also: grievance procedure. If it deals with grievances in a fair and reasonable manner, • State how and with whom to raise you're much less likely to lose valued and the grievance in the first place. Handling grievances | Created by Business Link on 16 September 2009 14:43 è Crown copyright 2007 Page 3
    • Handling grievances • Identify an alternative person with whom a grievance should be raised if You must follow one of the statutory the usual person is the subject of the grievance procedures (SGPs) if the issue grievance. For example, if the line about which the grievance is raised (the manager is the person with whom 'trigger event') occurred before 6 April 2009. grievances should be first raised but they are the subject of the grievance, There are standard and modified SGPs. In the procedure should name someone almost all cases, you should follow the else, eg the line manager's manager. standard one. • Set out to whom the employee should appeal if they are not satisfied Before an employee's claim can be with the outcome of the initial accepted by a tribunal, they must have first grievance hearing – see the page in raised a formal grievance with you in writing this guide on appeals against and waited 28 days. grievance decisions. • State that, if possible, a manager Transitional arrangements for applying previously uninvolved in the matter will hear the appeal. the SGPs • Give time limits for each stage, You do not have to follow the appropriate particularly for lodging and hearing SGP where the trigger event occurred on or the appeal. after 6 April 2009. • Mention that the employee has the right to be accompanied by a colleague or union representative at However, you still have to follow the any meeting. appropriate SGP where the trigger event • Outline what happens if a grievance occurred before 6 April 2009. This is the is raised during a disciplinary case even if - after that date - you invited or procedure - see our guide on will invite the employee to the grievance handling disciplinary issues. hearing, held or will hold the hearing, or held or will hold an appeal hearing (if requested). Consulting employees on your grievance procedure In these circumstances, you cannot agree with an employee not to follow the SGPs. You may want to consult employees when putting together your grievance procedure. Cut-off dates for tribunal claims falling under the pre-6 April 2009 regime If you have any workplace representatives, it may be preferable for you to carry out this Where the action about which the employee consultation via them, ie either trade union complains began before 6 April 2009 but or, if there are none, elected employee continues beyond that date, a cut-off date representatives. applies. The cut-off date will be 4 July 2009 for The statutory grievance submitting a written grievance or tribunal claim where an employer takes action which procedures forms the basis of a grievance with a Handling grievances | Created by Business Link on 16 September 2009 14:43 è Crown copyright 2007 Page 4
    • Handling grievances raise it until after they left three-month time limit - eg a sex, race, age etc discrimination claim. The modified SGP has two steps: Alternatively, it will be 4 October 2009 for submitting a written grievance or tribunal 1. Employee's written statement - the claim where the employer takes action employee must set out their which forms the basis of a grievance with a grievance and the basis for it in a six-month time limit - eg an equal pay claim. written statement and send a copy to the person given in your grievance procedure. The standard SGP 2. Your written response - you must The standard SGP has three stages: write back to the employee giving your response to the points they have raised. 1. The employee must set out their grievance in writing - the statement should be sent to the person named It is important that you follow the 'old' Acas in your grievance procedure. code of practice on disciplinary and 2. Hold a meeting with the employee - grievance procedures throughout the entire after the meeting, inform them of grievance process, as the code is taken into your decision and notify them of their account by tribunals when dealing with right to appeal. claims. 3. If the employee wishes to appeal, invite them to a further meeting. See Download the old code of practice on the page in this guide on appeals disciplinary and grievance procedures against grievance decisions. from the Acas website (PDF, 327K) - Opens in a new window. The employee has the right to be accompanied at both meetings by a When the SGPs do not apply colleague or union representative. • The law sets out some circumstances where you don't have The modified SGP to follow the appropriate SGP. These The modified SGP only applies if: are where: • The grievance is that you have dismissed or taken disciplinary action • the employee no longer works for against an employee (unless this you action involves unlawful • you have agreed with the discrimination). ex-employee in writing that the • The grievance is that you are modified - as opposed to the thinking of dismissing or taking standard - procedure applies disciplinary action against an • the ex-employee raised the employee (unless this action involves grievance before they left, but the unlawful discrimination). standard procedure wasn't • The issue concerned is a collective completed, or the ex-employee didn't one, ie where the grievance is raised Handling grievances | Created by Business Link on 16 September 2009 14:43 è Crown copyright 2007 Page 5
    • Handling grievances by trade union or employee attend the hearing to act as a witness representatives. to the proper conduct of the hearing. • Owing to factors beyond your control, • Arrange a suitable time, date and it is effectively impossible for you to venue for the hearing. complete or even start the • Inform the employee in plenty of procedure, eg if the employee leaves time so they can prepare their case the country or becomes seriously ill. and consult any representatives. • The employee's behaviour is so Remind them that they have the right violent or unreasonable that you to be accompanied at the hearing by cannot be expected to go through the a colleague or trade union official. procedure with them. This exemption • Inform any manager and is to cover cases where you have witnesses who may need to attend. real reason to fear violence, • Obtain witness statements from harassment or vandalism, not just any witnesses who will be unable to where the employee is being difficult attend the hearing and share them or unpleasant. with the employee. Also note that an employee should not raise a formal grievance when making protected Holding a grievance hearing disclosures, ie when they are 'blowing the whistle' on illegal activities such as fraud. For any grievance hearing, you should: Therefore, you should consider having a 'whistleblowing' procedure separate from • ensure that it's private and won't be your grievance procedure. interrupted • introduce everyone and explain why See our page on whistleblowing and they are present dismissal in our guide on dismissal. • explain the reason for the hearing and how it will be conducted • listen carefully to the person's explanation of the problem - consider Preparing for a grievance hearing whether there is another issue which Before you hold a grievance hearing: might be the root cause of the grievance • listen to any conflicting points of view • Familiarise yourself with your • weigh up all the evidence to see grievance procedure so that you whether there is an issue you need apply it correctly. to address • Carry out a full investigation if necessary, eg where the employee is accusing a colleague of sexual It's crucial that you deal with grievances harassment. sensitively and in the strictest confidence, • Make sure you have all relevant particularly where they concern other facts and documents available for employees. Develop specific procedures for the hearing. very sensitive matters involving unfair • Arrange for someone to take notes. treatment, eg discrimination, bullying or • Arrange for another manager to harassment. See our guide on bullying and harassment. Handling grievances | Created by Business Link on 16 September 2009 14:43 è Crown copyright 2007 Page 6
    • Handling grievances Making the decision hearing, particularly if they have to face the person who is the cause of their grievance. Once the hearing is over: This can lead in some cases to them being absent for weeks or even months due to • decide what action to take - try to stress-related illness. balance fairness to the person without compromising the business If this situation arises, you can ask the or other employees employee's GP and/or an occupational • inform all concerned parties - in health specialist for a medical report. You writing - of your decision and the must gain the worker's agreement before appeal process - see the page in this doing so. guide on appeals against grievance decisions • review your procedure if the You should ask for the report to state grievance process has highlighted whether or not the worker is fit enough to problems with it attend a hearing in the near future: • If they are deemed fit enough, you Dealing with delays should arrange the hearing with the employee in the normal way. If the employee is genuinely unable to • If not, you might not be able to attend the grievance hearing, eg because complete the grievance procedure they are ill, offer them an alternative at a without unreasonable delay. In this reasonable date and time. situation, you can treat the procedure as having been completed and make If the employee's companion cannot make a decision in the employee's the re-arranged hearing, the employee must absence. However, you should still propose another date and time no more tell the worker that they can supply than five days after your proposed date. written material if they wish. If the employee fails to attend the rearranged hearing, this stage of the Appeals against grievance procedure is complete and you can make decisions your decision there and then. Don't forget that you will still have to tell them in writing An employee has the right to appeal against of the decision and that they have the right your decision following the grievance to appeal. hearing. You must notify them of this right when you write to give them your decision. Note that if you cannot make the hearing, Give them a deadline to notify you of their you must offer the employee a reasonable intention to appeal, eg within ten working alternative date and time. days. Dealing with long-term absence If the employee chooses to appeal, you A worker may well become anxious and must try to hold the appeal hearing without stressed in the run-up to a grievance unnecessary delay. Handling grievances | Created by Business Link on 16 September 2009 14:43 è Crown copyright 2007 Page 7
    • Handling grievances Preparing for an appeal hearing shouldn't be the same person that heard the initial hearing, eg a more senior manager Before you hold an appeal hearing: who has not been involved with the grievance process at all. They will be able to • Familiarise yourself with your hear any appeal without having any grievance procedure to ensure that assumptions. you are applying it correctly. • Make sure you have all relevant However, where the person hearing the facts and documents, especially if appeal is the same person who heard the you have come across new evidence first hearing, they should act impartially and since the first hearing. make sure they review the original decision • Arrange for someone to take notes. carefully. • Arrange for another manager to attend the hearing to act as a witness to the proper conduct of the hearing. You should write to the worker with your • Arrange a suitable time, date and decision and the reason for it as soon as venue for the hearing. possible after the hearing. Make it clear, if • Inform the employee in plenty of this is the case, that the decision is final. time so they can prepare their case and consult any representatives. Dealing with delays Remind them that they have the right to be accompanied at the hearing by If the employee is genuinely unable to a colleague or trade union official. attend the appeal hearing, eg because they • Inform any manager and are ill, offer them an alternative at a witnesses who may need to attend. reasonable date and time. • Obtain witness statements from any witnesses who will be unable to If the employee's companion cannot make attend the hearing and share them the re-arranged hearing, the employee must with the employee. propose another date and time no more than five days after your proposed date. Holding an appeal hearing If the employee fails to attend the The principles for holding an appeal hearing rearranged hearing, this stage of the are generally the same as for the initial procedure is complete and you can make grievance hearing – see the page in this your decision there and then. Don't forget guide on holding a grievance hearing. that you will still have to tell them in writing of the decision. However, at the appeal hearing, you should also consider: Note that if you cannot make the hearing, you must offer the employee an alternative • the reasoning behind the appeal at a reasonable date and time. • any new evidence since the earlier decision It is important that you notify the employee as soon as possible of any delays to the Ideally the person hearing the appeal appeal process. If you fail to do so, a Handling grievances | Created by Business Link on 16 September 2009 14:43 è Crown copyright 2007 Page 8
    • Handling grievances tribunal could increase any compensation Use our interactive tool to create a awarded against you. written statement of employment - Opens in a new window Helplines SGP transitional arrangements on the Acas Helpline Department for Business, Innovation & Skills website - Opens in a new window 08457 47 47 47 Download the old code of practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures from the Acas website (PDF, 327K) - Related guides on Opens in a new window businesslink.gov.uk The employment contract | Handling employment tribunal claims | Keep the right staff records | Work effectively with trade unions | Working with employee representatives | Inform and consult your employees | Handling disciplinaries | Prevent discrimination and value diversity | Manage absence and sickness | How to deal with stress | Related web sites you might find useful Download workplace dispute handling guidance from the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills website (PDF, 466K) - Opens in a new window Dispute resolution guidance on the Acas website - Opens in a new window Disciplinary and grievance handling online training courses on the Acas website - Opens in a new window Guidance on producing disciplinary and grievance procedures on the Acas website - Opens in a new window Handling grievances | Created by Business Link on 16 September 2009 14:43 è Crown copyright 2007 Page 9