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What should I do about a grievance?
We are often asked to advise clients on what to do about a grievance. But first of all, you have to establish if the complaint is actually a grievance or not! This may seem straight forward, but it can be a difficult issue.
Firstly, an employee does not have to state that they wish to raise a grievance; they simply have to bring a complaint to their supervisor or manager. This can be either verbal or written.
When a supervisor or manager becomes aware of an issue, they must take all reasonable steps to resolve it. A verbal complaint is informal and so can be dealt with relatively quickly. While there is no requirement for written documents, you should use your judgement on the seriousness of the issue and always make a written record. The record could be something as simple as a note in your diary with the details of the issue and the outcome. Or perhaps a written file note in an employee’s file. This will be helpful if the situation continues or escalates.
This is a formal grievance raised by an employee in writing. It can be by an email or letter. It doesn’t have to state that it is a grievance and it doesn’t have to be signed or dated. Any form of written complaint should be treated as a formal grievance.
There is a statutory grievance procedure that you should follow, even if you are unsure if the employee intends the complaint to be a grievance or not. You can access your free grievance procedure by clicking here – free grievance procedure.
In short, you should meet with the employee and give them the opportunity to explain their issue in full and indicate what they feel would be a suitable resolution. You should then decide what, if any, action is required. It is possible to deny a grievance if you feel there is no action required. However, if the complaint is substantial, you may need to take disciplinary action against the offender.
You should always be mindful of any potential discrimination issues. Grievances may not always be straight forward and may also cross over with disciplinaries or absences. If you feel things are becoming complicated, it is vital that you get professional HR advice to avoid any tribunal claims which may arise.
Our HR advisors are fully qualified and experienced in handling complex grievance issues and are here to help you manage your grievance safely.
Contact us on 01382 250333.
You can't do that!
If only I had a pound for every time someone has said "you can't do that" to me, I would be a very rich woman today!
It's common that when staff think they can get away with things, they may be a little bit upset when you start to lay down the law. This is even more common when you have policies and processes in place that just aren't being following by some department managers.
So how can you change that? Easily!
First of all, send the offending managers on refresher training to remind them of HR policies, why the exist and how to apply them. Then, simply remind all staff that there are policies in place that need to be applied consistently throughout the company. You can re-issue key policies or post a summary of them on the notice board with reference on where to access the full policy. Give it a couple of weeks to make sure that everyone has had enough time to review the policies ask any questions. Then start following the processes.
For example, if you want to crack down on multiple short-term absences, follow the process above then start having return to work meetings and stage 1 absence meetings with staff as required. When you tell them that you will be making a record of the meeting that will be kept on file and any further absences may lead to disciplinary action, you may well hear them say "you can't do that". This is when you politely remind them that you can in fact to that and you will if need be. Refer them to the policy for review and offer to answer any queries regarding the policy that they may have.
Remember, you have the right to manage your staff and it is important that all department managers follow the same processes and apply them consistently.