Grievance Procedure

A Grievance Procedure is something that your organization needs to look into. Having such a procedure helps you reduce workplace conflicts. The question is whether supervisors understand how to go about it.

When you hear people talk of employee grievance you will know that this refers to an employee's complaint that is usually job-related.

It can also include a dispute between an employee and your organization regarding disciplinary action taken against him or her.

Every grievance is important. This includes grievances that may seem insignificant. Your employee's perception is different from yours. What may appear unimportant to you is important to the employee.

Any complaint that is ignored, left unattended or poorly handled will cause you problems which may escalate to a full-fledged industrial dispute or serious disciplinary problems.

It is important for your organization to have a clearly written policy on grievance procedure that deals with employee complaints and related matters.

Keep in mind the following when formulating your grievance procedure.

  1. Employee Brings Case To Supervisor. It is necessary for the employee to take up his or her complaint to the immediate supervisor. He or she can do it either in writing or verbally.
  2. Equitable Solution. You need to ensure that the grievance is settled equitably.
  3. Timely Action. Do not delay in looking into the complaint.

It is normal for the grievance procedure to take the form of a series of steps to ensure fairness and justice to the employee. It makes things easy to understand.

You may want your grievance procedure to follow the format below. You can modify it according to management decision.

  1. Step I
    This states that the aggrieved employee, whether alone or accompanied by another employee, must bring up his or her complaint to the immediate superior within a certain time. You may specify this as five or seven work days. Don't make the period too long. If the complaint or dispute is successfully resolved by the supervisor, then the issue ends here.
  2. Step II
    If there is an intermediate superior, you may want to specify that the employee can refer his or her complaint to this superior if the immediate superior does not or cannot resolve the problem within the specified time period. Specify the same period of time for the intermediate superior to settle the problem.
  3. Step III
    If not settled within the specified period, say five or seven work days, the employee can request for a meeting with the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The CEO will specify the date of the meeting, if the meeting cannot take place on that day itself.
  4. Step IV
    Your grievance procedure must then state that the Chief Executive Officer shall make his or her decision within a certain period of time from the date the meeting. You may specify this as five or seven work days. The procedure may state that the decision of the Chief Executive Officer is final for the purpose of such grievance.

The procedure can also specify the employee and your organization through the supervisor or Chief Executive Officer can mutually agree to time extension.

However, remember that even if the procedure states that the CEO's decision is final, it does not mean that the employee cannot take the issue further with an industrial tribunal. This will happen if the employee is not satisfied with the decision.

Some classify a complaint or dispute having some criminal elements under grievances. This can happen if the written grievance procedure or the law of natural justice is not followed.

In this case, the law of the state and / or country will come into play.

Understandably, the employee may not raise any complaint if he or she is entirely to blame. This is where you need to take the appropriate disciplinary action.

When an employee is involved in some form of criminal behavior, his or her future position depends on the decision of the court.

If you are the Human Resource Manager you need to ensure that you update yourself on the position of the employee on a regular basis. Also keep the employee's superior informed.

Put your Grievance Procedure in Writing

Ensure that the procedure is put in writing. This helps every manager and supervisor to effectively manage employee complaints.

In addition, employees are well informed of their right when they feel that things are not in their favour. Clarity helps to prevent any misunderstanding which can lead to more problems.

On the other hand, having other written rules such as disciplinary rules and regulation are also important.

Employees need to know that they can complain when aggrieved but the employer has the right to take action against any of them in cases of misbehavior, poor performance or involvement in any criminal activity.

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