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Grievances at work

If an employee comes to you with a problem or dispute, it is preferable if this can be resolved informally. However, in some cases this may not be possible, and it is important your business has a robust grievance process in place to handle formal complaints.

Davis Blank Furniss Solicitors can review your current procedures to ensure they are legally compliant and cover all the necessary circumstances, and suggest any changes that are necessary.

Your grievance procedure

You must provide all your employees with a written copy of the company’s formal grievance procedure. This should be provided in a separate handbook.

The grievance procedure should primarily inform staff who they should contact if they wish to raise a grievance, and let them know how to get in touch with this person. There should be a second person available for circumstances where your main point of contact is involved in the grievance.

You must also:

  • Outline the grievance process and state that a formal hearing will be required
  • Ensure staff know they can have a representative at this meeting, such as a colleague or union representative
  • Explain the time limits that apply at each stage of the process
  • Explain the appeals system
  • Help employees understand what happens if they bring up a grievance during a formal disciplinary process

Grievance hearings

If you reach the stage where a grievance hearing becomes necessary, it is important that you are properly prepared. Failure to follow procedures correctly could result in an employee making a claim against you.

The employee should be given plenty of notice regarding the date of the hearing, giving them enough time to prepare properly. You should also conduct an investigation into their claims in order to ascertain the facts, and take statements from any witnesses.

Who should be present?

In addition to you and the employee, the hearing should also involve:

  • The employee’s representative, if they choose to have one
  • A senior person within the business, who will hold the meeting and conduct the investigation
  • Someone to take notes on behalf of the business

If the employee is unable to come to the hearing, e.g. if they fall ill, you should offer them an alternative date. You may also rearrange the hearing if the employee’s representative cannot attend, but you are only obliged to delay the meeting for five days after the original date.

What happens if the employee appeals?

Once you have reached your decision, you must inform the employee in writing and outline your reasons. You should also let them know how and when to appeal if they wish to do so.

If an appeal is requested, another hearing must take place in order to look at the evidence again, ideally led by a different person to the first one. This is an opportunity for you to go into further detail about why you have reached your decision, while the employee should be given the chance to present any new evidence that may have come to light or point out why they believe a wrong conclusion was reached based on the evidence.

After this, you will again need to provide your decision and reasons in writing. At this stage you should also inform the employee that this decision is final.

Get help from our employment law experts

If you are unsure that your current grievance procedures are compliant, or if you are a new business looking to put this process in place, the experienced team at Davis Blank Furniss Solicitors can help. Call us on 08000 284 396 or enquire online to find out more.