This essay will explore the difference between formal and informal Grievance process, how it can be prevented and a sample of the authors own work of grievance investigation and conclusion
As a shift Manager and part of my responsibilities to ensure that we have a harmonious working relationship between staff and management.
For the purpose of this essay, I will cover the Grievance process, how it can be prevented and a sample of grievance proceedings that I handled.
A grievance is generally any complaint that has been presented by an employee to a management representative about an aspect of the employee work, working conditions or relationships. They are usually set out to the employer, either verbally or in writing. However, it is important to note that grievance can be presented in many forms and it should always be dealt with to minimise the risk of employment tribunal claims and awards.
As part of our company policy and in our contract of employment, the company has adopted a ‘Positive Work Environment, which states that the company is committed to create a harmonious working environment, which is free from harassment and bullying and in which every employee is treated with respect and dignity.’
We have three forms of communicating to all our employees the company’s stance on grievance related issues, which covers staff understanding of what is grievance, the consequences if a grievance case against fellow employee is proven and the reporting procedures. Firstly, we will discuss grievance to all employees through the employee induction process, in their written contract of employment, which is normally issued to the employee after successful three months probation. And finally through the company hand book, which every employee is issued a copy, signed for and advised to read and follow the company’s policies therein.
In addition and under the employment act 2002 (Dispute resolution) Regulation 2004, it is the duty of the employer to detect whether a complaint from an employee amount to an informal grievance, and if it is, such complaint should be dealt with through the organisation or that company’s grievance process. The following are common issues that can easily lead to grievance:
• Bullying and Harassment • Discrimination • Poor Management Practice • Inadequate training • Poor communication • Unfair treatment • Unclear job roles • Failure in providing equal opportunities • Personalities, Values, Workload and Expectations • Changes to accepted customs and practices
Once the Management understands that the above possible causes can lead to employee grievance complaints, the initial method to prevent it from happening is to adopt it into the company continuous improvement programme, which must form part of the management daily working activities, since issues of grievance can come from all sectors of employees working activities.
The secondary prevention measures are how noticeable grievance cases are dealt with appropriately and quickly. As a rule of thumb, the initial approach to deal with grievance is to try and resolve it informally if possible. As it is always the case, leaving or ignoring grievance to develop can often lead to an escalation of the problem, which can lead to Managers having to spend time on endless investigation, lose of good employee and expensive Employment Tribunal proceedings.
There are also multiple symptoms that an employee with perceived grievance can exhibit, which in many cases can affect the productivity of the company. For example, an employee may take more time off or sick off from work, or not performed his or her work duties to the optimum, which in many cases is a result of stress or anxiety from work. An experienced Manager or Supervisor should be able to detect some of these signs, talk to the employee concerned and informally resolved the issue as soon as possible.
In a situation whereby a Manager could not detect a grievance through the behaviour of one of his employees, but it is established that an employee complaint is a grievance, that Manager should tell that employee that his complaint is a grievance, and must also explained to him his right under the company’s grievance provision to raise or report that matter (instilling confidence). The employee should be assured that the matter will be investigated and dealt with and there will not be any retribution from the company for reporting that issue.
As per the grievance procedure contained in the company handbook and under the employment act 2002 (Dispute resolution) Regulation 2004, the employee must put his case in writing, but if for some reason the employee is unable to do this, the Manager should make full notes of the grievance and ask him/her to sign it as being a true representation. Once the written notification or the signed grievance note is given to the employer, an immediate and formal investigation should ensued. The employer should invite the employee in writing to a meeting to discuss the issue. This is an investigatory meeting to review the complaint, and not to give value judgements or comments, and certainly not any form of decision.
The investigative officer should have an open mind, as all the facts may not be available to him. He should not pre-empt the decisions that will later be made. The aim at this stage is to identify the grievance, and be clear about the matter so that the company can resolve the grievance.