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Setting up a grievance procedure

No matter the size of your business (unless you are a micro-business with no employees but yourself) there is bound to come a time when you have some sort of dispute among your staff, it may be something simple that can be easily sorted out by sitting the “offending” parties down together to talk it through calmly and rationally, or it may be something far more serious that needs to be handled firmly and quickly, possibly resulting in one or both parties losing their jobs. By setting up grievance and disciplines procedure early, and ensuring all your staff are aware of it, you may save yourself a lot of complications and headaches later on.

What should be contained within the grievance procedure document?

When setting up a grievance procedure, you need to ensure that the following points are included:

  • The name, or job title, of any person the employee with a grievance should approach for resolution.
  • The procedure that will follow the raising of a grievance:
    • The written/verbal complaint
    • The interview
    • The decision
    • The Appeal
  • The time scale that will be applied to any grievance
  • Outlines for the procedure for collective grievances (eg a union representative from a recognised trade union.)
  • The escalation procedure – if it cannot be handled internally, what is the next step?
  • The allowed time scale for appeals

The above points are the bear basics that should be in your document, you can tailor it to fit your companies’ needs as you see fit.

Once your procedure is written down, you need to make sure your managers are trained completely on it and what to expect and how to react if a grievance is brought to them, it must be stressed that no grievance is "trivial" to the person bringing it and they deserve to have their complaint handled professionally.

If possible, before taking formal steps try to encourage your staff to sit down as an informal chat to talk things through and see if you can get a resolution without having to resort to the formal grievance procedures.

Ensure that the employee bringing the grievance doesn’t feel victimised at all, where possible keep all grievances confidential in the workplace, only involving those that need to be involved, not the whole office. If you have any doubts, then consult with ACAS who are the official body who deal with workplace issues.

It is important that your grievance procedure complies with ACAS rules, if you are unsure then you can arrange training with them via their specially targeted conferences or you can contact other specialist Employment Law trainers who can not only train your staff on the correct procedures but prepare all of your Human resources documentation for you tailored to your companies needs and help you keep it up to day with ongoing support, both on and off site.

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