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Getting to grips with grievances

Presenting another edition in our ongoing series of news updates and blogs from our valued partners at Peninsula, a leading authority in Senior Employment Law Consultancy. Peninsula is renowned for its expertise in HR, employment law, and health and safety consultancy services. For customers of our Protect independent living insurance products, swift access to Peninsula’s support is available through our round-the-clock Employment Law and Health & Safety advice line. Discover more about our range of three Protect policies by clicking here.

Employees might raise concerns about any aspect of their employment. Issues with pay, work levels, and decisions taken that they do not agree with, can all be examples of matters that could lead to an employee raising a grievance.

It does not matter if a grievance appears trivial on the face of it. Any concern raised still needs to be listened to and progressed appropriately. If it is just brushed under the carpet and not dealt with, this could result in staff leaving and it might even lead to the employee bringing an employment tribunal claim.

When a concern is raised, it might be appropriate to ask the employee whether they would prefer it to be dealt with informally. This might be a good way of preventing matters escalating but may not be suitable depending on the issue raised.

If it is not resolved informally or it is more appropriate to deal with the matter formally then the Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures provides a formal procedure to deal with complaints. It is important to make sure that action is taken in line with this code. If an employment tribunal claim is brought, the tribunal will consider whether or not the code has been followed. If it has not, and the employee wins their claim, then the amount of compensation awarded can be increased by up to 25%.

There should be a clear grievance procedure in place, which is easily accessible for all employees. Once a grievance is raised, then a meeting should be arranged with the employee to discuss the issues further. The employee has the right to be accompanied to this meeting by either a colleague or a trade union representative. The meeting should clarify the concerns and establish the employee’s desire outcome. Any investigations should then be carried out before an outcome is provided, in writing, to the employee who should also be given the right to appeal the decision.

The grievance should be heard by someone impartial who is not involved in the issues being raised. Legal advice should be taken about who is best to do this in the specific circumstances.

It is important that each stage of the process is taken seriously, action is taken promptly, and documented throughout so that there is a clear paper trial to show that any concerns raised have been addressed appropriately.  

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