Grievances are an inevitable part of employing staff. Whilst they are a pain for some managers, they allow a business to nip concerns or complaints in the bud. This is before they grow into something which can be much bigger and more time consuming.
You should encourage employees to raise grievances as early as possible. But this should be an informal chat in the first instance.
Whether it be an allegation of bullying by a manager or any other complaint, employers should look into issues as soon as possible.
Dealing with grievances
It is important for both employer and employee to approach a grievance with an open mind. Avoid a hostile or unreasonable attitude.
Dealing with a formal grievance will involve a fair investigation. This should happen before to any meeting. But, if any part of the grievance is unclear and requires clarification, it is good practice to hold a meeting to clarify the issues.
Grievances can sometimes be lengthy. Aggrieved employees can use their grievance letter to air all frustrations. It can often be difficult to see the wood from the trees.
In this instance, it is beneficial for the employer to try and clarify the precise issues with the employee. Try to focus their concerns; it will make the investigation process a lot smoother.
Employees have the right of accompaniment at any formal grievance meeting. This could be a colleague or union representative.
There is no specific right to for anyone at interview to have a witness, but employers may consider allowing this.
The outcome of a grievance can often be disciplinary proceedings, for example, if allegations of bullying have been upheld.
Employers shouldn’t jump to disciplining alleged perpetrators until the investigation is over.
Employees also have the right to appeal a grievance decision. This could be to someone more senior, but in any event, someone independent.
It’s common for employees to raise grievances part-way through a disciplinary process. This is often an attempt to stop or delay a disciplinary decision.
There is no hard and fast rule for concurrent disciplinary and grievance processes anymore. The ACAS Code allows for a suspension to the process when an employee raises a grievance.
It’s down to the employer to consider the most appropriate way of dealing with such matters.
Likewise, an unfounded grievance could become a disciplinary matter if the employee has been dishonest.
Since the introduction of protected conversations in 2013, grievances have become more common.
Employers should still consider continuing with a grievance investigation. Even if discussions are taking place in the background. Just in case a you can’t negotiate a settlement.
It will be very difficult to explain the delay in dealing with the grievance to a tribunal.
In smaller businesses, it can often be difficult to find someone to deal with investigations and meetings. Especially if an appeal is also submitted.
As with disciplinary procedures, it is open to a business to branch out. They can use resources within associated companies. They may eveb bring in external consultants to deal with grievances. This can support an employer in showing that a grievance was fair and appropriate.