Disciplinary and grievance proceedings

Sometimes, the nature of your grievance is such that informal resolution cannot be found. However, in many cases, an informal resolution is far more desirable for all parties, as it can prevent problems from escalating and becoming more serious issues for you and your employer alike.

Firstly, your employer should have a grievance policy in place which makes clear that, if possible, an attempt should be made to resolve the grievance informally before it escalates to a formal grievance. Usually, this would be expressed so that you are encouraged to go to your line manager with any concerns in the first instance or, if the grievance concerns your line manager, a more senior manager if possible. The issues should be dealt with fairly, promptly and with consistency through investigation by the employer prior to the tribunal hearing.

It is important that your wishes should be respected – you may insist that the matter be dealt with formally and therefore an informal resolution may not be possible or appropriate. That said, and regardless of whether you want to deal with the matter informally, the nature and content of the grievance must be considered before deciding how best to try and resolve it. This is because some matters, such as discrimination claims and grievances which raise legal issues, should always be thoroughly investigated.

When you raise an issue with your employer, this should be dealt with in a considered, conciliatory and prompt manner. Ignoring your concern or dealing with it in an aggressive or uncaring tone is only likely to antagonise the situation and lead to bigger problems further down the line.

An alternative dispute resolution method is mediation. This is a process whereby an independent mediator acts as an intermediary between you and your employer or a colleague. It is a voluntary process and, as such, a mediator cannot impose their own opinions or make any decisions. They can make suggestions, if it is appropriate in trying to reach a settlement, but fundamentally it is for the parties to the dispute to agree.

Your employer should also have a written procedure setting out how it will deal with any disciplinary issues. Your employer may have set out the procedure in its staff handbook or within your contract of employment.

Before your employer decides to follow a formal disciplinary procedure, it should undertake a reasonable investigation to ascertain the facts relating to the disciplinary allegations that have been made against you. This could involve interviewing and taking statements from you and/or other individuals and reviewing any relevant documents. Your employer should provide you with the findings of its investigation and give you the opportunity to comment on those findings at any formal disciplinary hearing that follows.

Employers and employees should always look to resolve disciplinary and grievance issues in the workplace. However, it may be necessary for a disciplinary or grievance issue to be heard by an employment tribunal, depending on the circumstances of the case involved.

The employment tribunal hears claims from people who think that an employer has acted unlawfully. Claims can involve issues such as unfair dismissal, discrimination and unfair pay deductions.

If you are having problems with your employer or you are considering making an employment tribunal claim, please contact us for further advice.