Employment Solicitor and Director, Robert Hickford, summaries key considerations when investigating an employee grievance along with best practice when conducting a grievance meeting.
Have a formal grievance procedure
- Where a grievance raises a potential legal issue, the employer should deal with it under its formal procedure and the ACAS code of practice: Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures in order to establish whether any action needs to be taken internally and to protect its legal position.
- Under the Equality Act 2010, an employer needs to be conscious throughout the process as to whether any reasonable adjustments to the grievance process to ameliorate any disadvantage caused by a disability should be made. This more readily applies to situations like physical disabilities making attending a meeting difficult, or mental health difficulties meaning in-person conversations were more difficult.
- Confidentiality is important throughout the grievance process, both in relation to the investigator, the meeting chairs, note-takers and any witnesses interviewed. Any breach of confidentiality will be treated as a disciplinary matter. However, the employee should be free to discuss the matter with their employee representative, should they have one.
- Witnesses should be advised to not discuss the grievance or investigation with other employees or third parties and, where appropriate, reminded of their legal duties of confidentiality.
The Grievance meeting
- There should be someone present to take notes of the meeting, a copy of which should be provided to the employee following the meeting, and their agreement sought to their contents.
- At the start of the meeting, the employer should introduce those present and explain the purpose of the meeting.
- Ensure that the meeting remains conciliatory rather than adversarial, and be aware that the employee may find discussing their grievance stressful and upsetting. Give the employee the opportunity to explain their grievance in detail. It is advisable to take notes of the key points.
Investigation timescales and next steps
- Conclude the meeting by confirming that a full investigation will take place. Takes copies of all documents, emails and details of times where incidents happened to review as part of the investigation. Advise the employee you may be in touch, otherwise arrange a further meeting to deliver your findings.
Steeles Law employment team are familiar with supporting businesses that are experiencing problems in the workplace and are committed to working with you and your business to ensure matters run as smoothly as possible.
To speak to a member of the team to draft necessary letters, agreements and provide the expert advice and guidance to ensure that potentially contentious matters are handled with sensitivity please call 01603 598000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and a member of the team will be happy to contact you.
*The information provided in this article is designed to provide useful information on the subject, not to provide specific legal advice.