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A grievance is where an employee’s concerns or problems in the workplace are raised with his employer and addressed.
It is usually advisable, where appropriate, to try and deal with grievances informally. If grievances cannot be dealt with informally, as a minimum standard, the formal Statutory Grievance Procedure must be followed.
The Revised Statutory Grievance Procedure came into effect in April 2009. The Grievance Code is designed to help the relationship between employers and employees with respect to grievances in the workplace.
The employer should make employees aware of how to access their organisation’s Code on grievances in the workplace and the procedure entailed in making a formal grievance. This could be something included in an employee’s ‘starter’ pack on commencement of employment. Grievance procedures should not be contractual but it is a legal requirement for employers to provide employees with disciplinary and grievance procedures.
Employers could face Tribunal proceedings against them if they fail to follow the Code as a minimum requirement when dealing with grievances. Failing to deal with grievances in a fair and reasonable manner can give rise to claims for constructive dismissal based on a breach of mutual trust and confidence.
Employees making a formal grievance are afforded protection of their Statutory Rights when raising a formal grievance to their employer.
A grievance could include but is not limited to, a problem at work, bullying, a breach of contract, concerns or worries the employee may have or, by the employee raising a ‘disclosure’. A disclosure can be a form of ‘whistle blowing’, which entails an employee making a protected disclosure regarding a qualifying subject. An employee should not be dismissed for raising a protected disclosure as their employment may be protected. If they were dismissed for raising a qualifying protected disclosure, they could potentially raise a claim against their employer for automatic unfair dismissal. Damages are currently uncapped in ‘whistle blowing’ dismissals.
The Employment Team can assist employers put in place an appropriate grievance procedure and assist in the investigating and conducting of grievance hearings. Likewise we can also assist employees who wish to file a grievance against their employers, advising on specific circumstances in which the employees wish to leave their employment and raising a claim against their employer.