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									UNIVERSITY OF ULSTER



  GUIDANCE NOTES ON

     APPLYING THE

      GRIEVANCE

     PROCEDURES




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                         CONTENTS




Section   Heading                                             Page


1         Introduction                                        3

2         Informal Resolution                                 4

3         The Statutory Framework                             5

4         Grievance Procedures agreed with Trade Unions       6

5         Role of Human Resources Department                  7

6         Investigating a Grievance                           8

7         Guidance Notes for Conducting an Investigatory      10
          Interview

8         Convening a Grievance Hearing                       11

9         Guidance Notes for Conducting a Grievance Hearing   12

10        The Keeping of Records                              14

11        Drafting of Grievance Outcome Letters               15

12        Process When an Employee has left the University    16
          prior to resolving a Grievance




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                         Grievance Procedure



1.    Introduction


1.1   This procedure is adopted by the University of Ulster to deal with
      individual employee grievances or a grievance shared by a group
      of employees. In circumstances where a grievance may apply to
      more than one employee, and where these employees agree to
      seek resolution as a group, they may agree to raise a shared
      grievance for joint resolution under this procedure.

1.2   The term grievance is used to describe circumstances where an
      employee wishes to raise a matter of concern in connection with his
      or her employment. While it may relate to how a procedure is
      applied it cannot deal with terms and conditions that have been
      agreed collectively between management and the recognised trade
      union.

1.3   An agreed and effective Grievance Procedure can contribute
      significantly to the creation and maintenance of good management
      / staff relations generally as well as to the satisfactory resolution of
      grievances.

1.4   Separate procedures exist for dealing with complaints against the
      conduct of colleagues which will be investigated, and if necessary,
      addressed under the Bullying & Harassment Policy and/or
      Disciplinary Policy.




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2.   Informal Resolution


The University would encourage issues to be resolved informally if
possible. This will be facilitated by good informal communication
channels between management and staff. If staff feel they can approach
management and discuss matters in an informal fashion, issues arising
can, in most cases, be resolved before these become a formal grievance.
Line managers must deal promptly with informal issues raised by their
staff. In such circumstances, there should normally be evidence of an
informal attempt(s) at resolving differences.

While every attempt should be made to address issues informally once a
concern is put in writing, it must have a written response. This response
must be proposed in the context of a meeting at which the individual is
represented. They must also have a right of appeal.

This requirement mitigates against informal resolution, however by both
management and staff being aware of the distinction between formal and
informal, misunderstandings are less likely to occur.




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3. THE STATUTORY FRAMEWORK


From 1 October 2004, the Employment Act 2002 (Dispute Resolution)
Regulations 2004 are in force. These Regulations lay down statutory
disciplinary, dismissal and grievance* procedures which provide a
framework for discussing problems at work and it is essential that our
procedures are in line with the steps outlined. The Regulations provide
for a basic three step procedure as set out below.

Step 1
Inform the employer of their grievance in writing.

Step 2
Be invited by the employer to a meeting to discuss the grievance where
the right to be accompanied will apply and be notified in writing of the
decision. The employee must take all reasonable steps to attend this
meeting.

Step 3
Be given the right to an appeal meeting if they feel the grievance has not
been satisfactorily resolved and be notified of the final decision.

In accordance with the LRA Code of Practice on Disciplinary & Grievance
procedures, employees will not usually be able to seek recourse to an
Employment Tribunal without first following the University’s own
grievance procedure. A tribunal application will not be accepted unless
Step One has been instigated and the employee has allowed a period of
28 days to elapse between writing the letter and submitting the tribunal
application.

* The Statutory Dispute Resolution Procedures established under the
legislation are to be repealed and although there is a degree of
uncertainty as to what they will be replaced with, the University will
ensure that its procedures for dealing with such matters are revised to
ensure continued compliance.




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4.    GRIEVANCE PROCEDURES AS AGREED WITH TRADE
      UNIONS


The University presently has three separate grievance procedures which
have been agreed with the recognised trade unions. UCU, UNITE and
UNISON (Copies attached)

While the Craft Unions are now part of UNITE, until a new grievance
procedure is agreed, the current Craft Grievance Process will continue to
apply.

The University is seeking to agree a common Grievance Procedure with the
trade unions other than UCU (representing academic and academic-related
staff).

The arrangements for dealing with grievance issues for Academic and
Academic Related Staff are set out in the Charter and Statutes. The
University has the opportunity to revise these in line with a New Model
Statute. Any review will be in line with revising all procedures and in line
with the impending changes in the Statutory Guidelines.




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5.   ROLE OF HUMAN RESOURCES DEPARTMENT


Under the formal grievance procedure, a member of the HR department will
be available during the course of managing the grievance case to assist the
line manager. The role of the HR representative should be to offer advice
on:

a)   application of the procedure

b)   ensuring the grounds for the grievance are clear.

c)   who should hear the grievance.

d)   how the grievance hearing should be conducted

e)   on the depth of investigation which should take place

f)   how to keep a record of the hearing

g)   the documentation of the logic / rationale of the decision

h)   the composition of the outcome letter where appropriate

i)   defining any remedial action

j)   arrangements for the next stage




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6.      INVESTIGATING A GRIEVANCE


     When a member of staff states that they wish to raise a grievance, they
     should be given access to the appropriate Grievance Procedure that
     exists for their category of staff. While these are available from the HR
     website, copies can also be obtained directly from Human Resources.

     Any request for a grievance to be raised under the formal stages of the
     procedure should be confirmed in writing and supported by a statement
     on the appropriate form (see Appendix 1) identifying the issue(s) and the
     outcome sought.

     However, the fact that an individual does not raise a grievance in writing
     does not debar management from investigating the grievance once they
     become aware of it.

     Upon receipt of a grievance from a member of staff, managers should as
     a matter or priority, inform their relevant HR Consultant / Adviser and
     must acknowledge receipt of same within the time-scales specified in the
     Grievance Procedure for the staff category.

     In handling grievances, managers need firstly to establish if the grievance
     is well-founded i.e. is it based on fact or perception only and secondly to
     consider whether the redress requested is possible or justified in the
     circumstances.

     Before you meet formally with the person initiating the grievance, you
     should try and establish any relevant background information. If they
     have trouble articulating their grievance, you should provide assistance to
     identify exactly what the grievance is and the redress sought.

     It may be that you need to carry out an investigation taking in other staff.
     This may involve an investigatory interview. While there is no legal
     requirement that such an interview allows for accompaniment, you may
     get more co-operation by allowing individuals to bring a colleague or a
     Union representative.

     It may be that after the formal hearing occurs, you need to carry out
     further investigation. If this is the case, you should explain this and
     attempt to set out a timescale in which you will complete your
     investigations and issue your response.


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Grievances can relate to a variety of issues. It may be how a policy was
interpreted and applied. In this case, you should seek advice from
Human Resources as to how such policies and procedures have been
applied in the past.

In some cases, investigation of the grievance can uncover other issues
which may require further investigation under another process, such as
the disciplinary procedures. While the investigating officer may make a
recommendation, any such action should be taken by a member of
management not previously involved.

Staff should seek to resolve issues through their line managers. In cases
where the grievance concerns the line manager, then it would be
appropriate to raise the issue at the next level of management.

In all cases, advice should be sought from Human Resources as to the
appropriate course of action.

Remember:

   Examine all written submissions and listen to any verbal evidence
   Establish the facts
   Establish who is involved
   Establish the situation to date
   Take advice from Human Resources




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7.   GUIDANCE NOTES FOR CONDUCTING AN
     INVESTIGATORY INTERVIEW



Unlike an investigatory interview in relation to discipline where you are
seeking evidence to support disciplinary action, in the context of grievance,
you are purely fact finding. The following steps will provide a structure to
such interviews:


1.   Provide the employee with sufficient background information so that
     they can understand the context and invite them to comment on their
     understanding of events.

2.   While individual memory of incidents will vary, seek to establish those
     facts that you can confirm and those that are in dispute.

3.   Invite the employee to give their version of events and then question
     on specific issues arising.

4.   Read back your understanding of what has been said and ask for
     confirmation.

5.   You may need to go back after the interview with a written outline of
     what you were told and ask for confirmation that this is an accurate
     reflection of what happened. This can provide for clarity and remove a
     basis for disputing recollection in the future.




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8.   CONVENING A GRIEVANCE HEARING


The manager must invite the employee to a hearing to discuss the
grievance (see Appendix 2 for letter inviting employee to hearing).
The direct line manager should conduct the grievance hearing (depending
on the particular grievance procedure). If the grievance concerns the direct
line manager directly, then another individual at the same level should
conduct the Hearing.

The hearing must not be delayed unnecessarily, but the manager should
look into the background of the grievance and consider what action may
have been taken in similar cases. Unlike the Disciplinary Hearing, the fact
that a line manager has carried out investigatory interviews or other
research prior to the hearing, will not debar them from hearing the
grievance.

The purpose of any pre-hearing investigation is to be able to deal with the
grievance raised as close to the hearing as possible. While it may be
necessary to seek further information after the hearing, the hearing itself
and any prior research should form the basis of the evidence to be used in
coming to a decision.

The employee is entitled to be accompanied at the hearing by a fellow
employee or a Trade Union representative.

The hearing must be at a reasonable place and time and the employee has
a duty to attend. You should liaise with the employee as to the time, date
and venue and with their representative. Where the individual has a
representative, you should seek to agree a date. Should an agreed date be
changed by the individual or his representative, a new date should then be
set within one week of the cancelled date. The employer is under no further
obligation to rearrange a third date. In such circumstances, advice should
be taken from Human Resources.

A Human Resources representative must be present at the hearing. The
manager may also wish to involve any other manager concerned.




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9.    GUIDANCE NOTES FOR CONDUCTING A GRIEVANCE
      HEARING


At the start of the hearing begin with:

‘This is a formal grievance hearing held at Stage _ under the Grievance
Procedure.

Although this is a formal hearing, I will seek to hold the hearing in as relaxed
an atmosphere as possible to ensure you have every opportunity to state
your case. I will, however, ask you to stick to points of fact.

The member of the HR team is present to advise me on the conduct of
proceedings. I shall listen to the evidence you put before me and base any
decision I make on this evidence. I will address any questions to you,
however, your representative will also be given an opportunity to speak on
your behalf.

At the end of the presentation of evidence, I will consider if I have sufficient
evidence to reach a conclusion. Should I require further information, I will
inform you of this and set out an approximate timetable.

If I consider I have sufficient information, I will outline my findings and a
rationale to you in writing. I will draw on any notes made by the HR
representative to confirm any detail which may be unclear of the
proceedings. No formal record will be kept of the proceedings; my findings
will be the formal record.

Should I not find in your favour, I will indicate to whom you should write in
order to invoke the next stage of the procedure’.


A checklist of useful questions to ask before reaching a conclusion

1.    Have I sufficient evidence to reach a balanced conclusion?

2.    What are the implications of the claim in relation to past precedents?

3.    What redress is it within my power to offer?


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If the Grievance is substantiated

1.   Do I need to take any associated action or recommend that further
     procedures are invoked? (ie has a breach of discipline occurred?).

2.   Is my decision a reasonable response to the evidence presented.




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10. THE KEEPING OF RECORDS


All proceedings and records of matter dealt with within the scope of the
Grievance Procedure must remain confidential and be retained. HR will
retain copies of written proceedings, statements and records relating to
each stage of the procedure on a separate grievance file. The records
retained will include:

  -         the nature of the grievance raised, along with the original written
            grievance

  -         the employers response, which will include any record of the
            hearing*, and details of any follow-up action

  -         the reasons for any delays in hearing the grievance

  -         copies of all correspondence


* The record of the hearing is a management tool. Its purpose is three-
fold:

      (a)      to assist in the compilation of the grievance outcome letter;

      (b)      to assist the chairperson as an aide memoire in the
               event of instigation of the next stage;

      (c)      to assist Employee Relations in keeping a database of
               grievance outcomes to further aid consistency.


The record is not a minute of the meeting nor is it meant for distribution to
the employee or his / her representative. It is not an agreed document. It
is a summary of a management decision. You will be aided by the member
of the Human Resources Team present, who will draw on their notes to
clarify what emerged at the hearing in terms of facts.

The attached pro forma (appendix 3) requires to be completed




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11. DRAFTING GRIEVANCE OUTCOME LETTERS


Following the grievance hearing and any subsequent investigation (if
necessary), a written response should be produced to the employee. The
Grievance Outcome letter should be drafted by the HR Department for the
line manager to agree, using the attached model (Appendix 4)

The letter should specify:

   -     the finding of the Hearing i.e. grievance upheld / rejected

   -     a summary of the reasons for the decision (do not go into elaborate
         detail)

   -     any agreement reached or actions taken

   -     the recommended outcome

   -     any further action required

   -     if dissatisfied with outcome, to whom the employee should write in
         order to invoke the next stage (Appendix 5). If this is the third
         stage of the relevant procedures, the written response should make
         it clear that the decision made at this stage will be final.


Copies of grievance outcome letters should be placed in the grievance file.

If the time-scales outlined in the relevant Grievance Procedure for
notification of outcomes cannot be adhered to at this stage, the employee
must be provided with an explanation for the delay and told when a
response can be expected.




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12. PROCESS WHEN AN EMPLOYEE HAS LEFT THE
    UNIVERSITY PRIOR TO RESOLVING A GRIEVANCE


In general, the standard University grievance procedure will apply, even
when an employee has left the University, providing they have lodged their
grievance in writing prior to the date of termination. However, there is a
modified procedure that may be applied, if

  -     the University was not aware of the grievance before the
        employment ended; or

  -     if the employer was aware of the grievance, but the standard
        grievance procedure had not commenced or been completed by
        the time the employment ended; and

  -     both parties agree in writing that it should apply; or

  -     it is not reasonably practicable for one or other party to carry out
        the standard procedure (eg the former employee has left the
        country for an extended period)


This modified procedure consists of two steps:

Step 1
The former employee sends written confirmation to the Director of Human
Resources that they wish to pursue the grievance, setting out the basis for
it.

Step 2
The University responds within 28 days of receipt of the confirmation letter
giving responses to the points raised




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