Advice On How To Deal With Grievances At Work

Before we talk through how to deal with grievances at work let us explore what a grievance is.

A grievance is an issue, complaint or problem that an employee may have with their employer. It can relate to any aspect of their work, pay, treatment, hours and holidays.

ACAS states: “Grievances are concerns, problems or complaints that employees raise with their employers. This does not apply to redundancy dismissals or the non-renewal of fixed-term contracts on their expiry.”

If an employee does ‘raise a grievance’, then how should employers deal with it?

ACAS (The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) are an independent public body that receives funding from the government. They publish a Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures which, when exploring how to deal with grievances at work, must be considered and referred to.

 

Why?

The ACAS Codes of Practice set the minimum standard of fairness that workplaces should follow. Should a case reach Employment Tribunal how the company followed the Code of Practice is taken into account and financial awards can be increased by up to 25% if they have not done so – ‘for unreasonable failure to comply with any provision of the Code’ ACAS.

This can also apply to employees with a reduction of up to 25% of compensation if they are deemed to have unreasonably failed to follow the guidance.

The Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures lay out expectations and guidelines and this will underpin the advice explored in this blog.

 

Informal Resolution

Where possible it is encouraged that an informal resolution is sought. Encourage employees to speak with their line managers or others within the business to talk through their concerns. This will allow a timely resolution which will enable all to move on.

It’s important to ask the right questions such as ‘how would you like this resolved?’ so that time can be spent focussing on the employee’s main concerns or issue and resolution. There are times where this option may not be appropriate for example if the concern relates to serious allegations such as sexual harassment or discrimination.

 

Formal Procedure

If an informal resolution cannot be found an employee can raise a ‘formal grievance’. This should happen in writing with the employee stating the nature of the grievance. Formal grievances are commonly submitted in a written format in a letter or email. If a written grievance is received the Company Grievance Procedure / ACAS Code of Practice should be instigated without unreasonable delay.

 

Hold a Meeting

The first step will be to acknowledge the grievance and invite the employee to a formal meeting at which they have the right to a representative such as a work colleague or TU representative.

During this meeting the employee is given the opportunity to provide more information and evidence of the complaint. The role of the grievance officer is to firstly ascertain what the employees preferred outcome is and then clarify points raised.

 

Investigation

The next step is to investigate the complaint objectively and thoroughly to ascertain the facts and identify if and how the grievance can be resolved. Decide on the appropriate actions.

 

Confirm outcome in writing

Without unreasonable delay. Your policy should confirm timelines, however, if you need to conduct further investigations or need more time for deliberation, communicate this to the employee. In the written outcome you must provide the employee the right to appeal.

 

Right to Appeal

Where an employee feels that their grievance has not been satisfactorily resolved or they do not feel that the process was fair they can appeal the outcome letting their employer know the grounds for their appeal. This should be held by an independent person and the employee has a statutory right to be accompanied.

Again, the outcome should then be communicated in writing without unreasonable delay.

 

What happens if as a company we don’t manage grievances in the right way?

An employee that does not feel that their grievance has been resolved or dealt with effectively could resign and claim constructive unfair dismissal. If there are allegations of discrimination this could also be claimed at tribunal.

The impact of not dealing with grievances in the right way can not only be financial but also reputational. The impact on productivity can also be affected with low morale, high labour turnover and high absence rates. It can impact on the mental wellbeing of all involved.

So, in summary…

 

Follow your company procedure

As with any workplace practice it is important that good solid communication and a full and fair procedure is followed.

A workplace should have a comprehensive Grievance procedure in place, if this is not the case refer to the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures to ensure that you are managing grievances fairly and consistently and protecting the business from costly compensation claims.

 

Have good solid communication

Encourage your managers to have an open-door policy; encourage feedback from your teams and have a culture of resolution. As a manager, be aware of what is going on around you and ask questions if you feel something is not quite right. Good communication and a focus on ‘nipping things in the bud’ before they escalate can allow employers to manage concerns before an employee feels that their only option is to ‘raise a grievance’.

 

Management Training

Train your managers in having difficult conversation and facing into issues and concerns. Give them the confidence to talk to their teams. Educate your managers in how to manage grievances in line with the grievance procedure and be sure that they are aware of your grievance policy and their responsibility in instigating this where required.

 

Learnings

As a company recording the number of grievances and the types of grievances will support you in identifying if there are key themes or areas that can be addressed, and learnings taken. It is also important to be able to review how grievances were dealt with to support consistency across the organisation.

As with all people management the foundation is good solid communication. This and fairness, consistency, robust policies and well-trained managers!

If you have any questions related to dealing with grievances in the workplace or HR services, then feel free to contact us using the methods below.

Read more

How Should You Use a Health and Safety Risk Assessment?

Risk assessment is a vital tool for businesses to ensure they keep employees and others safe from harm.

There has long been a need for effective risk assessment within business, but despite this there is often a lot of misconception and misunderstanding about the process. The purpose of this blog is to shed some light on some of these areas and try to help give some clarity.

Read more

7 Effective Tips for Taking Online Training Courses

In previous years, if you wanted to attain a degree or earn a certification it meant physically showing up at in-person classes and this was challenging for working professionals or those with busy schedules.

Thanks to improved technology, it’s simple to find an online programme which offers the flexibility you need. As you probably know, there are many positives to online training courses; you can learn whenever, wherever (if you have an internet connection and however works best for you).

Read more

Protecting Vulnerable Workers During The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic

Employers have a legal duty to protect workers from harm, particularly during COVID-19. Employers should make sure they consider the risk to employers who are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus and put controls in place to reduce that risk.

When supporting vulnerable employees employers need to be aware that some groups of people may be at more risk of being infected and/or an adverse outcome if infected.

Read more

Construction Sites & COVID-19: Who Should Go Back to Work and How To Do It Safely?

The COVID-19 pandemic has flipped our world upside down, we’re all adjusting to the ‘new normal’ and part of that is returning to work. Many workers have been taken off the Furlough system, having been asked to go back to work. This may seem a daunting task in this new world we live in, but there are steps and measures in place to keep the workforce safe.

Read more

Why Should Your Company Outsource HR?

At Wurkplace, we offer an extensive range of bespoke outsourced HR services to help support whether your in-house team needs additional support, or you need the full HR package! We personalise our HR services to your companies needs, we do all the nitty-gritty paperwork to put the system in place and then provide the guidance you may need further down the line.

Read more

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home Permanently

COVID-19 initially created havoc across the world, and it left many employers scrambling. When the pandemic took hold in March, they were forced to clear offices, and shops. Workers were sent home, with what seemed like a temporary measure. However, could there have been a change for the better as a result of this?

However, it has proved to be more permanent than many believed. The pandemic has calmed, but not gone away. There has been a huge change in employment throughout the world. Productivity has not taken a big hit, as had been predicted by many.

Read more

Employment Law for Agency Workers

An agency worker is someone with a special working arrangement. An agency worker has a contract with an employment agency. A ‘hiring organisation’ asks the employment agency to supply them with someone for a temporary assignment.

It is a common misconception that agency workers cannot accrue rights against the employer. This is not the case.

Agency workers can accrue rights against the employer. However, specific requirements need to be met.

The main issue is whether temporary agency workers are classed as employees. The employment status of agency workers is crucial for determining whether an employee accrues protected rights. Those who are working under a contract of employment (employees) and who can demonstrate this have the right to claim against the employer, which may include: unfair dismissal, maternity leave and statutory redundancy payments.

The key to deciding whether agency workers are employees is whether an implied contract has arisen between the worker and the end-user, which would give the agency worker employee status.

Read more

Ways to Cut Staff Costs Without Redundancies

These are difficult and uncertain times. With recent news that we are formally in a recession people’s economic situations are in jeopardy with the impact on people’s health, wealth and wellbeing a huge concern.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development estimates that a quarter of UK employers are expected to make some redundancies due to the pandemic (survey conducted by People Management and the CIPD April 2020) and this is likely to be higher as the months have passed.

Read more

How Should Employers Handle Staff Quarantine?

On Saturday 25th July 2020, the Government announced that anyone arriving from Spain from 26th July (the next day) onwards would have to undergo a 14 day quarantine period following their arrival.

As you can imagine, many people were not happy with this announcement, as this would make a return to work not possible unless they can work from home. One of the major talking points is that these workers will not be eligible for SSP (Statutory Sick Pay).

With this latest announcement, employers will now have to put in place procedures for dealing with any employees returning to the UK from abroad.

While COVID-19 seems to be the only topic at hand currently, this information is absolutely essential for employers.

Read more