The ACAS Disciplinary and Grievance Code of Practice has been in situ since 6 April 2009.Both employers and employees are expected to follow the principles of the Code when dealing with employee grievances.  The purpose of the Code is to ensure that grievance meetings are conducted fairly, consistently and efficiently.

If either the employer or the employee chooses not to follow the Code it could result in either an increase or decrease of an award by up to 25% in the event a case goes to an Employment Tribunal.

It is in an employer’s interests to encourage employees to raise legitimate grievances without fear of suffering a detriment for doing so. The last thing an employer would want is to alienate staff or lose credibility and commitment from their team.

Where possible, employees should be encouraged to raise their concerns informally with their immediate line manager and thankfully, most complaints can be dealt with and put to bed at this stage.

In circumstances where the employee raises a complaint verbally, this can normally be dealt with informally, without reference to the grievance procedure.  Whether a grievance is raised verbally or in writing, however, an employee is entitled to have their complaint dealt with.  What may seem a minor and trivial matter to one person, may be important to another.

However, where an employee has stipulated that they wish to raise a formal grievance, or where the complaint is potentially serious (i.e bullying, discrimination), the matter should be dealt with as a formal grievance. It is also advisable to instigate the formal procedure where the employee is not satisfied that their complaint has been resolved informally.

A formal grievance procedure should be written down so that employees are aware of what the process is and to re-inforce that their concerns will be dealt with fairly and reasonably. The procedure should be made available to all employees. The procedure should contain clear stages that include:

Stage 1: Informal – Grievance raised with the employee’s immediate line manager, if appropriate

Stage 2: Formal  – Grievance raised with a nominated senior person in writing

Stage 3: Appeal stage to a more senior manager.

Whether you are dealing with a grievance either on an informal or formal basis, the employee should be invited to a grievance meeting to explain his or her complaint fully.

Now is a good time to review your Grievance Procedures to ensure that they follow the principles set out in the new ACAS Code of Practice. Please contact us if you would like assistance with this

The Do’s and Don’ts of conducting grievance meetings

Do make sure that the meeting takes place somewhere private
Do make sure that there will be no interruptions
Do make sure that the employee has been offered the right to be accompanied to the meeting
Do allow the employee to explain his or her complaint in detail
Do listen to what the employee has to say
Do differentiate between what is fact and what is opinion
Do remain objective, open minded and patient

Don’t interrupt the employee unless it is necessary to keep the discussion on track
Don’t react negatively, aggressively or be critical
Don’t allow any personal opinions of the employee to influence you
Don’t forget to summarise at the end of the hearing for clarity
Don’t make any decision about what to do about the grievance until all the complaints have been established and looked into
Don’t forget to communicate your decision with your reasoning to the employee

miles@tcmarketing.co.uk

Author miles@tcmarketing.co.uk

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