Grievance Procedure Guidance for Employers

Wed 10th Jul 2024

A grievance procedure is a formal way for an employee to raise a complaint to their employer. They can be raised with or without having raised the issue informally first, although employees are encouraged to resolve the matter informally where possible.

If a resolution cannot be met, then a formal grievance procedure should be followed. How can employers ensure they are carrying out the grievance procedure correctly? Steph Marsh, Head of  Coodes’ Employment team, explains.

Establishing a grievance policy

First of all, every employer should have a formal grievance procedure in place. This has to be in writing and easily accessible for employees. If you do not have a grievance policy, you should follow the Acas Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures (“the Acas Code”).

At Coodes we would always recommend that employers implement a policy. It is crucial to follow the full and fair procedure in line with the Acas Code for any grievance raised. This will ensure that employers are operating well within the realm of employment law.

Ensuring the process is fair

How can you ensure that the grievance process is fair? Typically, each grievance will be different which is why it’s crucial to follow the skeleton of a grievance policy. Employers should ensure that they deal with any grievances raised consistently and in a timely manner. Employees should also be informed of the time limits for each stage of the process.

To begin an investigation, it’s important for employers to have all of the relevant information to hand. The employee should also be allowed to bring a colleague or union representative to the grievance meeting.

It is vital that everyone is able to give their side of the story before a decision is made. This is to ensure that as much evidence is gathered as possible and that all of the information is being considered. In the meeting, it’s important to keep a confidential record of what is said and the evidence that has been gathered.

The most important, underlying factor of any grievance procedure is to remain impartial at all times. Act promptly and make decisions as soon as possible, then inform the parties involved in a timely matter. This keeps everyone in the loop and also helps to manage people’s expectations.

Once a decision has been made, the employee should have the option to appeal against the grievance decision.

The grievance procedure process

If an employee comes to you with a grievance, you should always have an informal discussion first. This will help ascertain if the issue can be resolved informally or not.

If not, the employee should be invited to a meeting to discuss the matter in the form of a grievance hearing. The employee should also be given sufficient time to prepare to allow them to bring evidence if necessary.

Once the investigation has been completed and a decision has been made, let the employee know. Inform them of their right to appeal and associated deadlines. They should also be given notes from the meeting.

If the employee appeals, conduct another meeting which would be similar to the first. However, this one should take into consideration the reasons behind the appeal, as well as any new evidence.

Where possible, try to make sure the person dealing with the appeal is different from the one who conducted the first hearing. When a final decision is reached, again, inform the employee and give the reasoning behind it.

In circumstances where a grievance is raised either against a colleague or where there are two or more related grievances, continue to follow the formal procedure.

Always keep the information confidential, this is arguably more important with multiple team members involved. The main difference with this type of grievance procedure is that you will need to consider what each employee wants to reach a final decision.

While the grievance is being investigated, some temporary measures might need to be put in place to keep involved employees separate. This will also help to alleviate any chance of potential altercations. For this reason, it’s also important to explain to the employees involved how the grievances are being dealt with.

Next steps for your business

When an employee brings forward a grievance, as an employer it is of the utmost importance that the correct procedure is followed. Both the employer’s conduct and an employee’s actions will be taken into account in the event the matter is escalated to an employment tribunal.

At Coodes Solicitors, we are one of the South West’s longest-established and leading law firms in Cornwall and Devon. Our Employment team provide support to businesses helping them keep ahead of recent changes in Employment Law.

If you need some friendly advice, call Steph Marsh on 01579 324 017 or send her an email.

Wed 10th Jul 2024

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