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Grievance raised by employee against another

Hi, 

I understand when a grievance is raised informally against another employee, the next step should generally be to talk privately to the person complained about to try to resolve. However If the employee proceeds with submitting a formal grievance, can I check I understand the correct steps?

1.Carry out a full investigation into the grievance and obtain all relevant evidence. 

2. Invite the employee to the grievance meeting and remind them of their statutory rights to be accompanied.  Send the evidence to the employee in advance of the grievance meeting.

3. Hold the meeting, allowing the employee to explain details of grievance and take notes etc. 

4. Adjourn the grievance meeting to give proper consideration to all the evidence before making a decision.

With regards to the employee who is subject to the grievance being raised, what communication is / should be made during this process?    

I presume they would be made aware of the grievance being raised and provided with (appropriate) evidence.  Would they be involved in any capacity ( with mediation ) in the meeting) or only informed of the outcome post meeting?   

Apologies in advance for the basic question - very new to HR and trying to get my head around this!

Thanks

James

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  • Hi James, in my experience you may find you need to speak to the employee being complained about as part of your evidence gathering ahead of the grievance hearing so you will need to communicate with them and hence they will have an idea of what has been said (but not necessarily by whom, depending on the circumstances). However they wouldn’t be involved in the grievance process beyond being questioned by the investigating officer as a “witness”. archive.acas.org.uk/.../Conducting_Workplace_Investigations.pdf

    If the outcome of the grievance process recommends mediation, then that is the point they and the employee making the complaint would sit down. I find it useful to remember that the grievance process is about the employee who complained - it is their opportunity to seek redress for something that has upset them. The person they complain about isn’t entitled to know the outcome of the other person’s grievance.

    However, if the outcome recommends the other person be disciplined, it is at that point that the other person becomes aware of the alleged misconduct and the case against them in full which would be done in accordance with your disciplinary policy. If no further action is to be taken against the person complained about I do also let them know that, so they know the matter is at an end and they no longer need to worry.
    Hope this helps.
  • Katy is correct. But it's also worth noting that you really should complete the lion's share of an investigation as part of the informal process of resolution, because how can you give an informal resolution the best chance of success if you haven't thoroughly investigated the substance of the grievance? By the time you get to having to invoke formal resolution proceedings, it just means printing out more copies for those involved.

    However - and I know some colleagues may disagree with me on this, but I've always found it a helpful perspective - I would recommend you begin by looking at this grievance rather differently.

    If an employee (Boris) raises a grievance about the behaviour of another employee (Doris), it's not Doris against whom Boris is raising the grievance: it's against you, the employer, and your failure (so far) to prevent, ameliorate or mitigate Doris's behaviour. I find that this perspective gives you a better sense of the extent to which Doris needs to be involved in the investigation and resolution.

    Similarly, should you decide that disciplinary action against Doris is the correct resolution, it's not Boris doing it: it's you, the employer. And that will tell you the extent to which Boris needs to be involved.

    This makes sense because, if Doris swears loudly at Boris in the office and a manager takes her aside and tells her clearly that her behaviour is unacceptable and warns her of the consequences of a repeat, then the employer has already acted. If Boris raises a grievance then it's not because of Doris's behaviour but because he thinks the employer's response was insufficient or inadequate (because this is the fourth time she's been told and nothing has changed).

    If you keep that in mind, it should make all other things a lot clearer.

  • Hello James

    I suggest you go back to the Acas Code. You will see that the first point is for the employee to inform the employer. That has happened. The second point is for the employer to meet the employee and listen to them - in other words, you set up the hearing. Only once the employee has had the chance to explain everything to whoever hears the grievance and whoever hears it thoroughly understands the nature of the complaint that the meeting is adjourned so that any necessary investigation may be done.

    It is also right up at the start of the section of the code on handling grievances that this is what happens if an informal route fails.

    Therefore I would jettison your current programme and arrange for someone appropriate to listen to the employee ASAP. If you haven’t got past the point where an informal resolution is possible, do it informally first. If you have to hold a hearing, then set it up by letter offering the right to be accompanied but move as swiftly as possible into listening mode.

    Who needs to be interviewed will become apparent from this and it will be the investigator’s call. You can think about communication with witnesses at that point.

    Grievances and disciplinaries follow different paths. With a disciplinary issue, the investigation comes first and depending on the outcome there may or may not be a hearing. With grievances, listening comes first (informally or at a formal hearing) and the investigation follows.
  • Really good point, Elizabeth. I think I usually sweep up such conversations as constituting the first step in an investigation, but you're right that it is probably better to consider them an informal hearing of the grievance as it gives an opportunity to ask important questions about evidence and impact and the resolution being looked for.
  • In reply to Robey:

    Formal or informal, if the hearing doesn't come first when a grievance arises, you are not Acas-compliant, and you need a really good reason not to follow the Acas Code. We haven't been told of one in this case.

    I think people get muddled about the differences between handling grievances and disciplinary issues and that's when you get ornate processes like the one set out here. As well as being wrong, it seems to me more likely to result in people digging themselves into their positions.