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Grievance procedure

Grievance procedure

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A friend who is employed as a full time salesperson has made a complaint to his MD about his boss, a director of the company. The basis of the complaint is that his boss is not doing his job so he cannot do his (e.g. not putting customer orders through, failing to deal with customer complaints, losing business...the list is endless) and he has given solid and objective factual evidence to his MD in support of his complaint.

The problem is that the MD seems reluctant to investigate the issues and my friend is having trouble getting information from him as to what steps will be taken to resolve the problem. His director's incompetence is severely jeopardising my friend's revenue (and income) and causing stress, so he wants to know that it is being taken seriously. The MD does not like to rock the boat and dislikes confrontation. All he has said is that everyone will ultimately need to sit around a table and talk it through.

What is the protocol for this kind of grievance, i.e. what are the employer's obligations in dealing with this complaint? Should he expect an answer to his complaint and within a set timeframe? How should my friend progress?

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By zoralon
24th Nov 2009 12:37

A clear complaint has been raised and the single worse thing to do is - nothing.  There is an argument that given the nature of the complaint it does lend itself to sitting round a table and hammering out any issues, however that really depends on how severe those issues are.  If, as seems likely, the complaint may lead to a performance or disciplinary issue against the director, then I'd recommend commencing a formal grievance procedure.  Check though that there is a procedure in place and actually read it.  If you use a procedure you will be expected to comply with it.

Should nothing be done then arguably the salesperson, if he's been there for a year or more, will have a potential claim for constructive dismissal.  If his ability to do his job is being affected by the actions of the company (the director) so that his remuneration is suffering, then it is possible to argue that his contract of employment is being fundamentally breached.  This is in essence the complaint he has raised.  If that complaint is ignored that just compounds his potential claim.  You should also be aware that if the matter does end up in tribunal, and an award is made this can be uplifted by as much as 25% if a grievance has been raised but not dealt with! 

In the case of the director, he is entitled to the opportunity of defending himself.  Remember this is your friend and there are two sides to every story.  If the director gets wind of unsubstantiated allegations against him the situation deteriorates even further, and does nothing for morale or working relations!  He may even raise a grievance of his own to the effect that unmerited rumours are circulating about him, and he hasn't been given the chance to deal to answer them.

In short, get the matter out in the open, employ the formal grievance procedure and see where that takes everyone.  It may even be the grievance highlights problems that the director wasn't aware of and that he can improve!  There may be extenuating circumstances which are affecting the director's work and he should be cut some slack. Whatever the case, deal with it openly, impartially and ensure every step of the procedure is minuted from here on in.  

If the the MD is unhappy with confrontation then he could consider hiring outside expert help.  There are companies out there that specialise in exactly this sort of thing.         



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By DeborahM
24th Nov 2009 16:42

Hi - Completely agree with the above, these situations are difficult but all employees are entitled to raise their concern via a Grievance.

If at all possible could your friend ask to talk to the person he made the complaint to and ask about the possibility of a mediation/facilitated conversation. Someone not involved could help the two people sort out the issues and look at how they could improve the working relationship and processes so that a formal grievance is not used straight away. If your friend does try this option and it is either refused or it does not work then he/she is still entitled to raise a formal grievance. This way they may be able to get it sorted for the better without resorting to the grievance procedure. 

Your friend has raised this once, I presume from what you have said verbally. Companies should have a written policy, if this one does not have a policy and the above is not successful then just follow the ACAS code which requests that grievances are put in writing.

Regards Deborah

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