First published: August 21st 2023
Last updated: August 21st 2023
When employees have a grievance, it’s important to show that you’re taking action to resolve the issue.
Managing grievances efficiently helps build trust and shows that you will handle employee concerns appropriately.
Grievances can arise under various headings. Employees might have concerns around their pay, their working environment or a problem with a colleague.
Whatever the issue, it’s important to know how to manage these issues which sometimes demand diplomacy and tact.
Stick to your written grievance procedures
Because grievances can involve sensitive or personal topics, it’s a good idea to have a solid set of written grievance procedures to ensure you handle employee complaints in a consistent, transparent and fair manner.
WRC Code of Practice
The Workplace Relations Commission has developed a Code of Practice on Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures (the Code).
The Code recommends that grievance and disciplinary procedures should be in writing and presented in a format and language that is easily understood.
The Code contains guiding principles that employers should comply with in the management of their grievance procedures.
Your grievance procedures should reflect the specific circumstances of your organisation but most importantly they must comply with the general principles of natural justice and fair procedures 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, circumstances.
Start on an informal or private basis
As a general rule, you should try to resolve grievance and disciplinary issues between the employee concerned and his or her immediate manager or supervisor.
This could be done on an informal or private basis.
If the issue can’t be satisfactorily dealt with this way, you should advise the employee that they have an opportunity to raise a formal complaint in line with your grievance procedures.
Separation between each stage of the formal procedure
If the grievance procedure proceeds on a formal basis, there must be clear separation between the investigation, the reporting and the appeal stages.
To ensure fairness, separate persons must manage the investigation stage, the reporting stage and the appeal stage.
The grievance policy should also confirm that employees have the right to be accompanied by a work colleague or a chosen representative at any meeting under the procedure.
The employee may bring any of the following to a grievance meeting:
- a colleague of the employee’s choice
- a registered trade union member
- but not a person or body unconnected with the enterprise.
The benefits of a structured approach to grievances
Having a good grievance structure in place has multiple benefits but the chief advantage is that it ensures that your organisation maintains positive employee relations.
Effective grievance procedures promote consistency, transparency and fairness in dealing with workplace complaints.
Employees will feel respected when they have a course of action to resolve complaints and they know that their concerns will be considered and acted upon when it’s appropriate to do so.
Prevention is better than cure and strong, accessible grievance procedures will prevent interpersonal issues from developing into more serious workplace conflicts.
Expert HR guidance on grievance procedures with Graphite
Grievances must be addressed head on.
If you don’t address grievances efficiently, your organisation risks suffering the consequences of employee unrest.
For a review of your existing documentation and procedures, speak with a Graphite HR expert today on 01 886 0350.