Grievances

What is a workplace grievance?

What do I need to do to comply with the LRC Code of Practice on Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures?

What are the principles of fair procedures and natural justice?

What are the causes of workplace grievances?

What are the essential elements of a grievance policy?

What are the essential elements of a grievance procedure?

What is the informal route?

What is mediation?

What is the formal route?

Do I need to provide training to managers and supervisors on how to handle workplace grievances?

Do I need to provide training to managers and supervisors on how to conduct formal workplace grievance investigations?


What is a workplace grievance?


A grievance is defined as a complaint an employee has relating to his or her duties, terms and conditions of employment, working procedures or working conditions. 

Do I have any legal obligation in relation to the provision of grievance procedures in the workplace?

While you do not have any specific legal obligations, the Labour Relations Commission published a Code of Practice on Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures in 2000 which all employers are expected to comply with.  Although the code is not legally binding, external bodies such as the Labour Court, the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) and the Employment Appeals Tribunal do use it as a benchmark in assessing a case and they take a particularly harsh view of employers who do not comply with the code.

If you are in any doubt about your compliance contact us for advice and for an expect assessment of your procedures.  For more information on our policy writing and review services, Click here.


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What do I need to do to comply with the LRC Code of Practice on Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures?


To meet the requirements set down in the Code you:

    • Must have a written grievance policy in place which is easily understood
    • The policy should specify the procedures to be followed when an employee has a grievance and these procedures should follow the principles of natural justice and fairness
    • The policy should be given to all employees at the start of their employment and refresher training should be provided at intervals
    • All managers and supervisors should have a clear understanding of their respective roles and responsibilities in effecting the disciplinary procedure and should adhere to the procedure at all times 

 


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What are the principles of fair procedures and natural justice?


Your grievance procedure must follow the principles of natural justice and fairness which include:

  • That employee grievances are fairly examined and processed
  • That details of any allegations or complaints are put to the employee concerned
  • That the employee concerned is given the opportunity to respond fully to any such allegations or complaints
  • That the employee concerned is given the opportunity to avail of the right to be represented during the procedure
  • That the employee concerned has the right to a fair and impartial determination of the issues concerned, taking into account any representations made by, or on behalf of, the employee and any other relevant or appropriate evidence, factors or circumstances 

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What are the causes of workplace grievances?


There are many reasons a grievance in the workplace might arise but they often occur due to

  • Lack of knowledge of job requirements
  • Personality conflicts
  • Uncomfortable working conditions
  • Dissatisfaction with remuneration package
  • Change to work practices 

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What are the essential elements of a grievance policy?


A grievance policy should:

  • Include the stated aims and objectives
  • Be compliant with the Code of Practice
  • Provide definitions as necessary eg workplace grievance
  • Detail roles and responsibilities of managers/supervisors
  • State the importance of confidentiality
  • Include a statement on the victimisation
  • Detail the grievance procedure to be followed
  • Provide for at least an annual review of the policy

WorkplaceBullying offers a policy writing and review service. Click here for more information.


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What are the essential elements of a grievance procedure?


Fairness, transparency and consistency are essential principles in dealing with workplace grievances.  Not all grievances follow the same route to resolution and a robust grievance procedure should provide a number of options

  • Informal route
  • Mediation – Internal and External
  • Formal route

A Right of Appeal should also be provided for in the grievance procedure. 


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What is the informal route?


Employees should, in the first instance, be encouraged to use the informal route.  This is where they discuss the issues directly with their line manager.


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What is mediation?


If the grievance remains unresolved or if the informal route is not appropriate, mediation should be offered before moving to the formal routeMediation is when a neutral third party facilitates a conversation between the parties in dispute and helps them find a resolution in a safe and equitable way. Mediation facilitates the resolution of the issue through communication and negotiation between the parties and promotes voluntary decision-making as a means to a mutually acceptable solution.

Because mediation has a very high success rate and can resolve matters speedily and confidentiality without recourse to a formal investigation it should, where possible, be attempted before moving to formal investigation. However, mediation does require the voluntary consent of both parties to the process and must be carried out by a qualified mediator practiced in dealing with bullying at work issues.

Our mediators are fully accredited and we have a 98% success rate in workplace mediations. Click here to find out more on mediation and our mediation services. 


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What is the formal route?


If an employee chooses not to engage in the informal and/or mediation route, the grievance will take the formal route to resolution.  The employee must put his or her grievance in writing and, depending on the nature of the grievance, a full investigation or a formal grievance hearing should be held, the outcome of which should be provided in writing to the employee.

Any investigation or grievance hearing under the formal route must comply with the general principles of natural justice and fair procedures.

WorkplaceBullying can help you develop or review your grievance procedures. Click here for more information.


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Do I need to provide training to managers and supervisors on how to handle workplace grievances?


We strongly recommend that managers are trained to handle workplace conflicts.  Why?  Workplace grievances can consume an enormous amount of management time and even though grievances and conflict are natural in a workplace, the skills for achieving resolution are rarely taught.  The handling of the grievance is often down to the competence of the HR professional and/or the line manager involved but intervention by an unskilled manager/HR professional often results in the matter escalating to a more serious issue.  The 2008 CIPD Survey on Leadership and the Management of Conflict at Work found that training in conflict management led, not only to a reduction in the number of grievances, but also resulted in improved morale and an increase in team performance and productivity.

Make the right decision for your business.  Get in touch with WorkplaceBullying providers of “best in class” Conflict Management Training.


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Do I need to provide training to managers and supervisors on how to conduct formal workplace grievance investigations?


We strongly recommend that any manager who is asked to conduct an investigation is appropriately trained so as to ensure a fair, objective and compliant investigation that will withstand any subsequent scrutiny by a third party.  This is particularly important with regard to the investigation of serious grievances that could end up being referred to an external third body.  Ideally, there should be a number of managers trained in investigation techniques drawn from various disciplines within your organisation.

Contact WorkplaceBullying now for more information on our Workplace Investigations and Training Services.

At WorkplaceBullying our Team of experts can:  

  • Conduct policy development and/or review existing policies and procedures reflecting “Best in Class” practice
  • Provide thorough, neutral and expert workplace investigations
  • Provide expert training on policies, mediation and investigation procedures
  • Provide mediation services
  • Independently chair grievance appeals

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