Last Updated 11 Feb 2020 in Ways of Working
If you have a serious complaint about another colleague or manager the Grievance Policy explains how you can raise this.
Key points covered:
- How to submit a grievance
- How a grievance is dealt with
- What will happen at a grievance meeting
- How you will hear of the outcome and the appeal process
About this Policy
The Society is committed to creating a positive working environment for colleagues. However, we recognise that there may be occasions where colleagues have concerns relating to work.
Issues that may cause grievances include, working environment, terms and conditions, work relations, bullying & harassment, discrimination and health and safety. The grievance procedure is designed to enable colleagues to raise concerns early and have them dealt with promptly, fairly and consistently.
We have a separate Respect in the Workplace Policy, which may be useful if you have been the victim of bullying or harassment. We operate a separate Whistleblowing Policy to enable colleagues to report illegal activities, wrongdoing or malpractice. However, if you have been directly affected by the matter you may raise it under the grievance procedure.
The Grievance Policy should not be used to complain about a sanction under the Disciplinary Policy. If a colleague is dissatisfied with any disciplinary sanction, they should submit an appeal in accordance with the Disciplinary Policy.
This Policy applies to all colleagues (whether employed on a full-time, part-time, fixed term or permanent basis), it does not apply to agency staff and contractors. This Policy does not form part of any contract of employment and the Society may amend it at any time.
Raising Grievances Informally
The Society expects that the majority of concerns can be resolved informally. We would encourage colleagues to resolve any issues informally in the first instance. If this is not possible they should raise the matter with their line manager. If colleagues feel unable to approach their line manager directly, then they should speak informally to a more senior manager or HR advisor, who will discuss ways of dealing with the matter. Colleagues may also contact the HR advice line on 01926 516469 to seek advice in resolving any issues informally.
Where attempts to resolve the matter informally have been unsuccessful or if the matter is very serious, it may be appropriate for a formal grievance to be raised under this policy.
Raising a Formal Grievance
Any formal complaint or grievance should be made in writing to the line manager, indicating that it is a formal grievance. Where the problem relates to that manager, the colleague should raise the matter with a senior manager or HR advisor. The written grievance should set out the nature of the grievance including any facts, dates, and names of individuals involved. In some circumstances, the colleague may be asked to provide further information and to set out any suggestions for resolution of the grievance.
All matters raised will be dealt with confidentially and discreetly, colleagues will not be victimised because they invoked the grievance procedure, although any colleague found to have made a deliberately false complaint may be subject to disciplinary action.
This grievance policy relates to current colleagues of the Society. However, we recognise that there may be circumstances where a former colleague wishes to raise a complaint. Where that is the case, the complaint should be set out in writing to the former manager, or HR advisor in accordance with this policy. The circumstances of the complaint will be considered, including how recent the issues complained of are, and a decision reached on how best to respond to the complaint. In some, but not all, circumstances the complaint may be considered in accordance with this policy.
It may be necessary to carry out an investigation into the grievance. The amount of any investigation required will depend on the nature of the allegations and will vary from case to case. It may involve interviewing and taking statements from the colleague and any witnesses, and/or reviewing relevant documents. The investigation may be carried out by the line manager or someone else appointed by the Society.
Colleagues must co-operate fully and promptly in any investigation. This may include informing the Society of the names of any relevant witnesses, disclosing any relevant documents and attending interviews, as part of the investigation.
We may initiate an investigation before holding a grievance meeting where we consider this appropriate. In other cases we may hold a grievance meeting before deciding what investigation (if any) to carry out. In those cases we will hold a further grievance meeting with the colleague after our investigation and before we reach a decision.
The appropriate manager will invite the colleague to a grievance meeting promptly on receiving a written grievance. In some circumstances, including where the location or diary commitments of the hearing manager may cause a delay, it may be appropriate to conduct a grievance meeting remotely (whether by telephone, video conferencing or in writing). Where this is the case, it will be explained to the colleague as part of the grievance process.
The manager will discuss the grievance with the colleague and the colleague should explain their grievance in full and explain how they think it should be resolved. After the initial grievance meeting we may carry out further investigations and hold further grievance meetings as we consider appropriate, such meetings will be arranged without unreasonable delay.
The manager may take notes during the meeting or arrange for someone else to attend as a note taker. Colleagues may request a copy of the notes taken during the meeting, which will be provided on conclusion of the grievance. Colleagues are not permitted to record a grievance meeting under any circumstances (whether covertly or otherwise). Recording the meeting without permission may amount to an act of misconduct.
Right to be Accompanied
Colleagues attending any formal stage of the grievance procedure have the right to be accompanied by a colleague or a trade union representative. Their chosen companion will be permitted to address the meeting and to confer with the colleague during the meeting (but not to answer questions on their behalf).
The colleague and his or her chosen companion should make every effort to attend the meeting. If the colleague’s chosen companion is not available at the time proposed for the meeting by the Society and the colleague proposes an alternative time (within five workings days of the day proposed by the Society), the Society will postpone the meeting to the time proposed by the colleague if that is reasonable.
The Society shall permit a colleague to take reasonable time off during working hours for the purpose of accompanying another of the Society’s colleagues, where a colleague has reasonably requested to be accompanied by that colleague at a meeting.
When necessary investigations have been completed, the colleague shall be informed in writing, of the decision.
The written response will include reasons for the decision, including any evidence relied on. If the grievance is a complaint about another colleague they will also be advised of the outcome. The response will also make recommendations for any proposed course of action as a result of the grievance. The outcome letter will also confirm the colleague’s right to appeal.
In some circumstances, a grievance will include an allegation against another colleague. Where that is the case, the colleague against whom an allegation has been made will be informed of the relevant findings on conclusion of the grievance.
If the colleague is dissatisfied with the result of the grievance procedure, they have the right to appeal against the decision.
The colleague will have five working days from the date of the letter notifying him or her of the result of the grievance outcome to lodge an appeal. Any appeal must set out the grounds of the appeal in writing. It should be sent to the person named in the outcome letter.
The Society will arrange for an appeal meeting to be conducted. The appeal will be heard by someone of appropriate seniority and experience who so far as possible, has not previously been involved in the case.
There will be an appeal meeting during which the colleague will be given appropriate notice. He or she will have the same right to be accompanied as at a grievance meeting.
The appeal officer will decide if the appeal is by way of re-hearing, or a review of specific points only and, if so, which points. The outcome of the appeal meeting will be notified to the colleague in writing as soon as is possible and will be final.
A grievance process may be stressful for colleagues involved, whether they are raising the grievance or where they have been named within it. Line managers should be mindful of this and, where they are aware that colleagues are involved in a grievance, provide appropriate support.
Where colleagues feel they require additional support they should speak to their line manager, HR advisor for your business group or contact the HR Advice Line on 01926 516469. The Society has partnered with GroceryAid to provide colleagues with a FREE confidential helpline service. For help and advice colleagues can contact the confidential 24/7 GroceryAid Helpline by calling 08088 021 122. A live webchat is also available here. There is also a wide range of guidance and support resources available at www.groceryaid.org.uk.
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