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Chamber HR News – Dealing With Grievances July 16, 2007

Posted by liverpoolchamber in Business, Chamber HR, Chamber Services, Legislation, Policy, Services.
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Part of your membership to the Liverpool Chamber includes access to ChamberHR, a comprehensive human resource service delivered through the ChamberHR web site and a dedicated human resource advice line. In our last e-news we looked at the basics of keeping compliant with employment legislation and health & safety, this week we are looking into grievance and disciplinary.


Acting Promptly to a Grievance

Employers are still coming to grips with the basic requirements of the Statutory Grievance and Dismissal Procedure, In recent times there has been a plethora of cases about what is a grievance and how is it raised. Employers are also confused by the fact that grievances can be raised after employment and often ask if there is a time limit.

For practical purposes employers need to be aware of the fact that a grievance or complaint can be raised after employment. It can be raised directly by the employee or by a person on their behalf. The most common situation would be when the CAB or an employee’s solicitor writes a pre-action letter. Employers should treat this as a formal grievance and deal with it through either the standard procedure and arrange a meeting or, with the employee’s consent, through the modified procedure and deal with it in writing.

Often in the past advisors recommended that employers should not respond directly to a solicitor’s letter but that would be unwise nowadays as a grievance could be legitimately raised and a failure to deal with it might, in subsequent tribunal proceedings, result in a 50% increase in any award made.
The best practice approach is to assume that any letter or e-mail that has any complaint or moan about the employee’s period of employment is treated as a potential grievance and should be responded to. Far better to over react than do nothing and suffer an increased award later.

For employers the crucial point is to identify a grievance when it is raised and deal with it promptly. Ideally managers should be well trained in dealing with this aspect of Company Policy and be able to identify problems at the outset and deal with them before a grievance is raised or an employee resigns and claims constructive dismissal. A key element in reducing room for error is the exit interview.

Employers should seek professional advice not only to assist with the management training issues but to review exit policies to ensure that a consistent approach is undertaken requiring staff to attend exit interviews and what the manager should discuss in these interviews. Employers have to ensure that they follow a fair and proper process when looking to take disciplinary action in relation to the conduct of their employees.

When to Dismiss? – Some acts are so serious that they would justify an immediate dismissal, through a proper process on the basis that they are acts of gross misconduct, but an employer may also dismiss where an employee is guilty of a further act when they are already on a final written warning. However, it is important for employers to ensure that they have followed a proper process in reaching that stage, that the warning is a relevant warning and crucially, that the warning is still a valid one and not time expired.

Employers need to be alert to the position when taking action and should seek advice where they wish to rely upon previous warnings, either for totting up purposes or in relation to mitigation. Professional help should also be sought in the drafting and reviewing of disciplinary policies and procedures.

For further advice call the ChamberHR 24 hour advice line on 02920 349614.

In our next e-news letter we will look at PERFORMANCE AND CAPABILITY

For further information on any of the topics covered in our news letter or for further advice log on to the website www.chamberhr.co.uk Or call the 24 hour advice line on 02920 349614.

If you have not received your website log in details or you are a new member and would like to register to use the service please contact the membership team by email at membership@liverpoolchamber.org.uk or by telephone on 0151 227 1234

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