Wherever possible grievances are best resolved through an informal route, simply having a quiet word or an informal chat can be a productive approach to resolving work related issues. Where this approach fails then employers are obliged to adhere to the ACAS code of practice which is detailed below.
In general terms a grievance meeting deals with any grievance raised by an employee. For the purposes of the legal right to be accompanied, a grievance meeting is seen as a meeting where an employer deals with a complaint about a ‘duty owed by them to a worker’.
If you have been unable to conclude the grievance at the meeting you should:
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.
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.
Set out clearly in writing any action that is to be taken and the employee’s right of appeal. Where an employee’s grievance 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 concerns are addressed with a reasoned, logical argument that is based on evidence and fact rather than opinion.