Best practice encourages every business should have a set of clear policies that underpin an employee’s contract of employment. These policies should be shared with all employees when they enter into a working agreement and should be easily accessible after that.
The definition of a grievance in the workplace is an issue, problem, or complaint. This includes, but is not limited to, workplace conditions or workload, where an employee feels discriminated against, sexually harassed, or bullied.
Any grievance raised must be taken seriously. It is recommended that all businesses follow the ACAS Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures. While it is not required by law, an employment tribunal can reduce or increase any money awarded in a case by up to 25% if the code hasn’t been followed.
In some cases, employees may not want to make a “formal complaint”. However, employers do have the option to deal with complaints informally. There are no set rules that dictate how employers deal with informal complaints. Nevertheless, you should ensure that it is agreed with the employee what the informal process looks like. An employer must look to act to address the complaint raised.
However, some complaints are too serious to be dealt with in this manner, and proper process must be adhered to.
In today’s article, we will go through the required steps to hold a grievance meeting.
The ACAS Code of Practice states that, ideally, once a formal grievance has been raised, you should hold an initial meeting within five days.
Before attending this meeting, ensure that you have:
You must also make sure that the employee has been invited to attend the interview in writing and that they have been informed of their right to have a colleague or union representative present at the meeting. The manager holding the meeting should also have a colleague attend for note taking.
When you open the meeting, explain to the employee that the meeting is intended to discuss the allegations raised in order to prepare an investigation plan.
Read the grievance letter aloud, allowing the employee to add anything and identify any witnesses or documentation that may support the complaint. You may also ask questions to help you establish the facts.
If the complaint involves another employee, the employer must remain impartial, gathering facts from both sides and any identified witnesses. An employer should not enter into any disciplinary matter until an outcome on the grievance has been decided. If there is a potential issue with employees working together while a grievance is investigated, explore the possibility of changing working patterns or offering flexible working.
When making a decision, ensure that it is based on the facts presented and that it is just and fair. You can also refer to any other similar complaints that have been made in the past. When an outcome has been decided, the employer must communicate it to the employee promptly. If the grievance was not upheld, take some time to talk privately with your employee to help them understand the reasons behind the decisions made. The wellbeing of the employee is likely to have been impacted by the grievance process, so pay close attention to employee absence and their mental health, offering support as required.
If the employee disagrees with the decision made, they do have the right to appeal. A different person should conduct an appeal meeting, who can re-examine the evidence with fresh eyes and analyse the documented reasons for the outcome.
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