When employees have a concern or complaint at work, they can take it up with you as a grievance.
Typically the situation comes about due to terms and conditions within their employment contract. Or if they feel like the treatment they’re receiving is unfair.
Whatever the grievance at work is, sometimes you can sort the problem out by discussing it through with your staff member. However, other times the matter can become more complex and require a hearing process.
In our article, we take a look what all of this involves and how your business can handle the situation.
But remember that you can always refer to our employment law advice for immediate assistance on this matter.
The types of grievances
So, what’s a grievance? They’re concerns that develop at your workplace between an employee and their colleagues, or with your business.
Typical examples include an employee reporting issues of:
- Bullying and harassment.
- Payroll issues.
- Difficulties with working conditions.
- Concerns about workload—health & safety risks.
- Terms and conditions conflicts.
It’s your legal requirement to provide a grievance procedure at work that’ll help them express their concerns (raising a grievance).
While they offer support to your staff, it also provides a vital dispute resolution service for your business.
You’ll have process to follow that leads to a resolution, one that’ll also help you follow existing employment laws.
Remember, it’s good business practice to follow Acas’ Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures with regard to this issue.
Your procedure of grievance
Right, what exactly will your business’ process need to be? There’s a three step plan you can follow:
- Ask for employees to submit their grievance to a line manager that explains the concern they have in detail.
- Hold a formal meeting to discuss the issue and see if you can address the problem. This is a grievance hearing—your staff member can ask for a colleague (or union representative) to accompany them to it.
- If the employee isn’t happy with the end result, they can make an appeal.
Remember, you must have a grievance procedure in place to avoid potential legal outcomes.
If you ignore employee grievances—or fail to address them soon enough—they can end up as an employment tribunal claim.
Holding a grievance hearing
Your employees may wonder how to write a grievance letter—they can refer to Citizens Advice for assistance with writing that, should they ask about the process.
So long as you receive a letter explaining their issues, then you have the grievance in writing for future reference.
You don’t always need to ask employees to submit a grievance in writing, but it’s a best practice to do so. Some employees may be unable to submit a written grievance due to a disability and denying them the right to raise a grievance would be unfair.
The next step in your grievance procedure for employees is to hold a hearing—you should do this without an unreasonable delay. For this, you must make sure that:
- Your employee has a reasonable amount of time to prepare for the hearing.
- A colleague or union representative accompanies them, if they request it.
- The hearing is confidential and private.
- You allow room for an open discussion where they can explain the nature of their issues.
After listening to the information, you can then make a decision on the right action to take. You shouldn't make an immediate decision. Take your time to review the situation so you're aware of all the circumstances.
Obviously, you should still let your employee know your decision in a reasonable amount of time. Don’t delay on making a decision, or providing your answer.
You should also let them know they can appeal your decision if they want.
How to handle appeals
Remember, it’s your employee’s legal right to contest the result. It's the opportunity for them to present new evidence and argue their case.
As such, you should have a new, more senior, individual handle the second hearing wherever possible so as to keep the process fair.
You can refer them to their employee contract—it’ll outline what your appeal process is.
After you’ve received notification of your employee’s dissatisfaction, you can respond in writing about any changes to your decision.
Make sure that you outline your reasoning again. But state that your decision is final and they have no right to further appeal.
Need our help?
If you’re struggling with any disciplinary or grievance-related issues at work, we’ll help you solve them as soon as possible. Contact us for immediate assistance: 0800 783 2806.