Managing a Complaint at Work
No matter what type of business you’re in, it is likely that at some point there could be a complaint from someone who works for you. The complaint could be to do with their work, where they work, or about colleagues they work with.
The complaint, it might be about a complaint of bullying or a health and safety issue.
These complaints are known as grievances and can happen at any level within the company.
In the first instance the line manager should have a quiet chat with the employee who has made the complaint as soon as they can as long as the complaint is not about the line manager. Often Grievances can be resolved quickly and effectively on an informal basis.
But, if dealing with a matter informally doesn’t work then you will need to take steps to resolve the concern formally:
•Keep to the ACAS Code of Practice on discipline and grievance.
•Manage a formal grievance from investigating it through to deciding how it will be resolved.
•Make sure you understand the basics for handling a grievance.
Follow ACAS code:
•Have a private meeting with the employee about the complaint, the employee has the right to be accompanied to the meeting
•The complaint must be set out in writing for the line manager to see unless it is the line manager the complaint is about if that is the case then it would go the senior manager
Does the employee have the right to be accompanied:
•Once the meeting has finished the employer will give the employee the decision in writing. If the employee appeals against the decision, then an appeal meeting would be held. The employees can be accompanied. in writing.
•It is always good practice for an employer to have a formal and clear procedure in writing which will handle any grievances that have not been settled informally
•In the employee’s written contract/ statement of terms and conditions of employment this will name the person to whom they give the written grievance normally this would be their line manager
•Make sure line managers, team leaders, trade union representative and employee representative are fully trained to deal with any grievances that are raised .
Investigate the complaint
The employee’s grievance letter should just outline the complaint, sticking to the all and only the facts.
If an employee’s grievance is against their line manager they may feel unable to speak to them about it, they should speak to another manager or the owner of the business. If that is not possible you can either use a:
•Mediator a mediators are very good at resolving problems where the relationship between employee and employer has broken down
•Try to get a manager from an outside organisation who is trained in handling grievances
It should be a priority to investigate the complaint and collect all the facts.
Prepare for the grievance meeting
•What are some of the other matters that may cause a grievance
•How do I investigate
•How can an employee raise a grievance about a work matter which is totally out of the employers hands
•Schedule a date, time and place to have the meeting
•Select a private place where there will not be interruptions
•Where possible , within 5 working days of receipt of the grievance in writing.
Write to the employee, giving them:
•Take into consideration if there needs to be any reasonable adjustments i.e. if the person is disabled
•Do you need an interpreter if english if not the first language for the employee
•Ensure consistence decision making, see if there are nay other grievances raised that are similar and see how they where resolved and any follow up action if any was needed
•Try to arrange someone who is not involved in the case to take the minutes and be a independent witness as to what is being said
•The employee has the right to be accompanied to the meeting and to the appeal meeting .
•Arrange the date for the meeting have the evidence and the witness statements from the investigation at the meeting so there is no surprises at the meeting
add they have rights to be accompanied at the meeting
Holding the grievance meeting
The manager chairing the meeting should ask both parties to:
• How will the problem be resolved
•Call any witnesses
•State the case.
Remember that during a grievance meeting:
•The chair needs to stay calm and be as fair and objective as possible
•Some employees need to let off steam so may need some time out, the employee needs to not use offensive language or threatening behaviour
•Both parties might come to a solution once having sat down and had the chance to express how they feel sometimes misunderstanding can often be cleared up
Sometimes the meeting need to be adjourn if some new facts emerge that need investigation, try to agree a date for the meeting to resume.
Once all the evidence has been heard, the manager chairing the meeting should:
•Inform the employee as to when they can expect to have a decision which normally is out in writing and usually 24 hours
•Sum up all the main points
•Carefully explain the reasons if the grievance is not upheld.
•How to appeal if the employee was not happy with the outcome
•Any action which will be taken to try to resolve the grievance
•Write to the employee telling them the outcome
•After the decision has been made consider how any actions to resolve a grievance this might affect other people
Make sure that after the grievance things are monitored and any action given is check it has dealt with and review the matter if necessary.
Sometimes once a grievance and outcome has been done it can bring some issues to light:
•Monitor the changes and that they are producing the desired effect
•Once any changes have been agreed inform employees what they are and where the information can be found
•Try to involve employee and their representative in any developing changes
•Changing any companies policies, procedures that are affected with the changes
•Address any matter as quickly as possible
Handling an appeal against a decision
If an employee wants to appeal against the decision following the grievance hearing this has to be done in writing, setting out the grounds for the appeal within a reasonable time, this would normally be within 5 working days from receiving the decision at the meeting.
•Always keep a written evidence keeping it confidential of the grievance meetings
•All decisions should be carefully considered and a decision should be given to the employee in writing and within a reasonable time this is usually within 24 hours
•When the appeal is over try to summarise the main points and then close
•Investigate any new evidence thoroughly and make sure both parties have the opportunity to comment on these
•The appeal needs to be heard by a senior manager someone is not involved in the case, if it is a small company and the same manager hears the appeal they have to stay impartial
•After the appeal has finished the decision is final
•The employee has the right to be accompanied to the appeal hearing
•In the appeal letter make sure the date, time and place where the appeal took place, this is done normally in 5 working days of the receipt of the appeal
Inform the employee as soon as possible:
If an employee wants to raise a formal grievance, they also would like a copy of the grievance procedure so they make sure they follow the correct procedure correctly, by law they no longer have to give a name of the person and their job of who they should be writing to. Neither do you have to name of the person you should appeal to if the employee is unhappy with the outcome of the grievance hearing.
It is always good practice for the employer to refer to those details in the employee’s terms and conditions; this is a document that an employee is entitled to receive after 2 months. There is nothing set out to handle grievance hearing.