As an employer, you need to have reasonable procedures in place to resolve workplace disputes. Those procedures cover two areas – your complaints against an employee or where your employee has concerns, problems or complaints.
Where one of your employees has concerns, problems or complaints about their working conditions or relationships with colleagues, these are “grievances”.
An employee is entitled to raise a grievance with their manager about any aspect of their working life that they are unable to resolve informally.
Why have grievance procedures?
Resolving workplace disputes quickly and effectively is good management practice, although there is more to it than that.
Having procedures in place to deal with workplace disputes ensures that employees are not treated unfairly or inconsistently.
The employees will also know that their grievances will be listened to, and if necessary appropriate action will be taken to resolve the issues.
Written grievance procedure
Your grievance procedure needs to be in writing so that employees will know what to do if they have an issue about any aspect of their working life, be it about their work or their relationship with a colleague.
Managers will also know what to do if they are approached informally by an employee about a grievance they have, or if a formal grievance is raised.
It can be tempting, particularly in smaller businesses, not to have a formal written grievance procedure and to rely on informal measures instead.
However, this carries the risk of inconsistent application and interpretation, and employees are left unsure of how their workplace dispute will be resolved.
This can also lead to legal complications for the business in the future. As such, it is important to have a written grievance procedure in your business.
A reasonable grievance procedure
ACAS has issued guidance about formulating your grievance procedure. The guidance is not prescriptive, but employers are expected to follow it. The guidance recommends adopting what it describes as “reasonable” procedures