Legal Article - Employment Law

Grievance Procedures

There is a statutory duty for all companies to have a grievance procedure. The Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) has produced a Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures. This advice is echoed in the Codes of Practice issued under the Equality Act 2010.

Whilst these Codes are not legally binding, if the advice contained in them is not followed without very good reasons for not doing so any claims brought before an employment tribunal by an employee under these and unfair dismissal law are likely to succeed.

This good advice is buttressed by the legal requirement for which must be within 4 weeks of employees issued with contracts of employment; employers should include in the written particulars of the terms and conditions of employment a note specifying (by description or otherwise) a person to whom the employee can apply for the purpose of seeking redress of any grievance relating to their employment, and the manner in which any such application should be made.

Where there are further steps consequent to any such application, the note must either explain those steps or refer to the provision of a document explaining them which is reasonably accessible to the employee.

The worker also now has the right to be accompanied by a companion, who may be a fellow employee or a full-time trade union official (or lay trade union official). It is the workers choice and a trade union official can be asked even if the employer does not recognise a trade union or recognises a different one to that of the official requested to attend.

A grievance hearing to which this right relates is one about the performance (or lack of performance) of a statutory or contractual duty by the employer. If the meeting date suggested by the employer is inconvenient for the companion, the worker can insist on another date providing it is within five days of the original date.

Published: 27 May 2011


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