Handling Grievances – Appeals

Handling Grievances
July 7, 2016
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If an employee informs the employer that they are unhappy with the decision after a grievance meeting, the employer should arrange an appeal. As far as reasonably practicable the appeal should be with a more senior manager than the one who dealt with the original grievance.  If this is not possible, than a manager, that is unconnected with the event or an impartial Director may hear the appeal. Whoever hears the appeal should consider it as impartially as possible.

At the same time as inviting the employee to attend the appeal, the employer should remind them of their right to be accompanied at the appeal meeting.

As with the first meeting, the employer should write to the employee with a decision on their grievance as soon as possible. They should also tell the employee if the appeal meeting is the final stage of the grievance procedure.

Preparing for the meeting

Appeal hearing managers should:

  • arrange a meeting, ideally within five working days, in private where there will not be interruptions
  • consider arranging for someone who is not involved in the case to take a note of the meeting and to act as a witness to what was said
  • investigate whether similar grievances have been raised before, how they have been resolved, and any follow-up action that has been necessary. This allows consistency of treatment
  • consider arranging for an interpreter where the employee has difficulty speaking English
  • consider whether any reasonable adjustments are necessary for a person who is disabled and/or their companion
  • gather any evidence that you may feel will help you understand the background to the grievance


Conduct of the meeting

  • grievance appeal hearings are the same as a grievance hearing, and follow the same format
  • make introductions as necessary
  • invite the employee to state their grounds for appealing the grievance outcome and how they would like to see it resolved
  • avoid making any snap decisions and give allow time to question the employee to make sure all of the facts and evidence from their side is presented properly and thouroughly
  • sum up the main points
  • consider adjourning the meeting if it is necessary to investigate any new facts which arise
  • tell the employee when they might reasonably expect a response if one cannot be made at the time, bearing in mind the time limits set out in the organisation’s procedure.


After the meeting

  • gather any additional evidence that may be needed such as documents, time sheets, forms, emails etc
  • undertake investigation meetings with further or new witnesses
  • prepare your written response based on the employees information and the evidence that has been gathered


Employees right to be accompanied (ACAS code of practice)

The follow applies to those circumstances where a grievance is being handled in a formal manner – it is however good practice to extend this offer when handling matters informally.

Workers have a statutory right to be accompanied by a companion at a grievance meeting which deals with a complaint about a duty owed by the employer to the worker. So this would apply where the complaint is, for example, that the employer is not honouring the worker’s contract, or is in breach of legislation.

The statutory right is to be accompanied by a fellow worker, a trade union representative, or an official employed by a trade union. A trade union representative who is not an employed official must have been certified by their union as being competent to accompany a worker. Employers must agree to a worker’s request to be accompanied by any companion from one of these categories. Workers may also alter their choice of companion if they wish. As a matter of good practice, in making their choice workers should bear in mind the practicalities of the arrangements. For instance, a worker may choose to be accompanied by a companion who is suitable, willing and available on site rather than someone from a geographically remote location.

To exercise the statutory right to be accompanied workers must make a reasonable request. What is reasonable will depend on the circumstances of each individual case. A request to be accompanied does not have to be in writing or within a certain time frame. However, a worker should provide enough time for the employer to deal with the companion’s attendance at the meeting. Workers should also consider how they make their request so that it is clearly understood, for instance by letting the employer know in advance the name of the companion where possible and whether they are a fellow worker or trade union of cial or representative.

If a worker’s chosen companion will not be available at the time proposed for the hearing by the employer, the employer must postpone the hearing to a time proposed by the worker provided that the alternative time is both reasonable and not more than ve working days after the date originally proposed.

The companion should be allowed to address the hearing to put and sum up the worker’s case, respond on behalf of the worker to any views expressed at the meeting and confer with the worker during the hearing. The companion does not, however, have the right to answer questions on the worker’s behalf, address the hearing if the worker does not wish it or prevent the employer from explaining their case.


Making a decision

It is generally good practice to adjourn a meeting before a decision is taken about how to deal with an employee’s grievance. This allows time for reflection and proper consideration. It also allows for any further checking of any matters raised.  You do not have to give your response face to face and you may respond with a letter.

Set out clearly in writing your decision in relation to the appeal. Where an employee’s appeal is not upheld make sure the reasons are carefully explained.

Care should be taken when constructing this letter to ensure that all of the employee’s allegations are addressed with a reasoned, logical argument that is based on evidence and fact rather than opinion.

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