Top Tips for Grievance Hearings
PREPARING FOR THE MEETING
The 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 is said.
- Consider 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.
- Ensure they have all the relevant paperwork before the meeting.
CONDUCT OF THE MEETING
- Be calm, fair and follow the procedure.
- Create a positive environment – remember that a grievance hearing is not the same as a disciplinary.
- The object is to understand as many relevant facts and as much relevant information about the grievance as possible.
- Remain impartial and objective at all times.
- Don’t make assumptions.
- Open questions can be more useful than closed ones e.g. ‘How did x make you feel?’ rather than ‘Did x make you feel bad?’
- Don’t be afraid to refocus the discussion if it wanders off – come back to the essence of the grievance.
- Make allowances for any reasonable ‘letting off steam’ if the employee is under stress.
- Adjourn if you need to investigate anything or new facts arise or if the meeting ceases to be productive (e.g. if employee is too upset).
Ten points of process
- Make introductions as necessary.
- Confirm if the employee does/doesn’t want a companion.
- Explain that the purpose of the meeting is to hear more about the allegation. Make clear this is not a disciplinary meeting and assure the employee that the procedure is designed to deal with grievances fairly, consistently, objectively and as quickly as possible.
- Invite the employee to re-state the grievance and how the employee would like to see it resolved.
- Ask questions to clarify your understanding of the complaint.
- Allow the companion, if any to speak sum up etc. but the companion can’t answer questions on the employee’s behalf.
- Sum up the main points.
- Confirm if further investigation is necessary.
- Tell the employee when they might reasonably expect a response according to company procedure.
- Follow up with outcome and information about the right to appeal the grievance outcome.
This is an information note only, but please do not hesitate contact us on our advice line if we can assist you further.
In giving comment and advice in the article, we do not assume legal responsibility for the accuracy of any particular statement. If you have specific views which you wish to discuss, we would be pleased to assist you.