Grievances are concerns, problems or complaints raised by a staff member to their employer regarding their working conditions or relationships within the work environment.
Dealing with grievances will tend to follow a 3 stage process:
- Attempt to deal with the grievance informally.
- If the grievance is unable to be resolved informally, deal with it formally and adhere to the ACAS code of practice which includes:
- Requesting the grievance(s) in writing;
- Inviting the individual to a grievance meeting to discuss the grievance(s) in more detail;
- Investigating the grievance(s); and
- Providing a grievance outcome.
- Offering the individual a right of appeal against the grievance outcome.
Whilst employees are a valuable asset of nay business, they equally pose a risk! Therefore, it sometimes becomes necessary to discipline and/or dismiss a staff member.
The procedure that you follow to discipline or dismiss a staff member is just as important as the reason behind your decision to discipline or dismiss.
You should follow a fair procedure and adhere to the ACAS code of practice:
- Consider suspending the staff member pending investigation (NB: suspension is not always necessary and should only be used where the staff member poses a risk to the business).
- Investigate the matter fully.
- Write to the staff member inviting them to a disciplinary hearing giving reasonable notice of the hearing and advising the staff member of the allegations against them (enclosing any evidence relied upon) and their right to be accompanied to the hearing by a colleague or trade union official.
- Hold a disciplinary hearing and make a decision.
- Confirm the decision in writing and offer the right of appeal.
- Invite to/hold an appeal hearing.
The ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures contains recommendations for the handling of disciplinary situations at work. It also sets out the principles that an employee should follow when raising a grievance and how an employer should investigate and hear a grievance. Failure to follow the ACAS Code must be taken into account by a Tribunal where relevant and an unreasonable failure to follow the code may lead a tribunal to adjust the amount of any compensation payable to the employee by up to 25%. It is therefore advisable for an employer to put in place a compliant disciplinary procedure.
The ACAS Code only applies to ‘disciplinary situations’, which includes misconduct and poor performance. Dismissals on the grounds of redundancy or the non-renewal of a fixed-term contract are specifically excluded. In respect of grievances, the ACAS code does not apply to all claims, although most types of claim commonly brought in the tribunals (including those related to discrimination, unfair dismissal, equal pay, breach of contract, deduction of wages etc) are covered. The code does not apply to collective grievances.
Our solicitors can assist you with a variety of complex Employee Relations issues and advise you on best practice and the application of the ACAS Code, to ensure that you adhere to a fair procedure when dealing with issues in the workplace, particularly if you are contemplating disciplinary or dismissal action.
If you don’t have a disciplinary or grievance procedure in place, ask us about our Employment Response Scheme. If you would like advice or assistance in connection with a workplace issue, please call Lianne Payne, Head of Employment on 024 7623 1000.