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Dealing with Workplace Grievances

Employees have the right to raise a grievance about concerns they have related to the workplace and you must have a written grievance procedure in your organisation. This can be helpful in providing a framework to explore and resolve workplace issues.

Unfortunately employees sometimes submit frivolous, vexatious or repetitive grievances, which take up a great deal of time and management resource. We’ve only been back a few days and already a client has taken advice about an employee who has not done terrifically well during her probation and despite feedback and support is still falling a long way short of the mark.

Unfortunately, having started the process to review her probation she’s gone into Violet Elizabeth Bott mode (of Just William infamy: “I’ll thscream and thscream ‘til I’m THICK!!”).

She’s now saying she stressed and presumably hoping that this is a get-out-of-jail-free card. It’s quite probable that she will assert her boss is bullying her. This has certainly rattled my client but it is fairly straightforward to manage.

I accept that being managed is difficult, but what is an employer to do if the employee has been guided and supported several times over a six month period?

The Violet Elizabeths of this world waste your time, but you can handle nuisance grievances of this type more effectively by introducing some conditions to your grievance process. It is very common for employees who are being taken through discipline to complain they are being bullied by their manager. If the complaint relates to the discipline process I will deal with it within the course of the disciplinary process, changing the discipline officer if necessary. In other cases, I deal with it concurrently, especially if there is no likelihood of dismissal. Occasionally I may halt the discipline process until stage one of the grievance is heard.

It is not always appropriate to allow the grievance procedure to be invoked. Make it clear that a grievance about a manager’s correction of an employee’s performance or conduct will not be dealt with through the grievance procedure. Managers have a right and duty to guide their team, provided it is appropriately done.

Other common problem areas are:

  • repeat grievances;
  • grievances which appear to be very weak or have no evidence;
  • grievances which date back months or years;
  • grievances which have already been over-taken by events, for example, the person complained of has already left the company.

Build in limitations so that you are not closing the door to a process in the event of real issues, but you can filter time wasting claims and delaying tactics.

If you need help sorting out HR problems, give us a call on 01908 262628.

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Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this blog, nothing herein should be construed as giving advice and no responsibility will be taken for inaccuracies or errors.

Copyright © 2018 all rights reserved. You may copy or distribute this blog as long as this copyright notice and full information about contacting the author are attached. The author is Kate Russell of Russell HR Consulting Ltd.

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