Grievances Employee Guide

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1 Grievances Employee Guide 1

2 Contents 1. Introduction 3 2. Support and assistance 3 3. When does the Grievance Policy apply? Collective grievances If you have left Nationwide 5 4. The grievance procedure: at a glance 5 5. The grievance procedure: in detail Trying to resolve your concerns informally Mediation Harassment and bullying Raising a formal grievance How your grievance will be dealt with 7 6. The grievance meeting Chairing the grievance meeting Grievance meeting agenda Investigations Confidentiality and witness evidence Grievance meeting outcomes Grievance outcomes appeals 9 7. Grievance timescales 9 8. Right to be accompanied What if my chosen companion is not available? The companion s role Acting as a companion 10 This guide should be read in conjunction with the Grievance Policy. If there is any difference between this guide and the policy, the policy will prevail. 2

3 1. Introduction We are continually striving to make Nationwide a truly excellent organisation, in a class of its own. Our business goals are stretching, and we can only achieve them by constantly challenging ourselves to deliver the highest levels of performance and working in a way which is consistent with our PRIDE values. Occasionally though, problems may arise. This guide gives you further information on what to do if you have a concern over the way you have been treated or with a workplace relationship, including incidents of harassment or bullying. It explains when the Grievance Policy will apply, how it will operate, and gives you further information on how to informally resolve concerns at work. The Grievance Policy and the Harassment and Bullying Policy are governed by the principles outlined in our Fair Treatment at Work Policy. These policies, which have been jointly developed with the Nationwide Group Staff Union (NGSU) ensure that where problems arise, they can be managed quickly and fairly. The Fair Treatment at Work Policy outlines your responsibilities as an employee, to: set a good example by demonstrating standards of performance and behaviour which are consistent with our PRIDE values help maintain a working environment in which everyone is treated with dignity and respect be aware of the effect of your behaviour on others and make every effort to ensure that it does not cause offence to others challenge and report unacceptable behaviour and harassment raise concerns without undue delay and wherever possible seek informal resolution work hard to meet the performance, attendance and conduct standards required of you inform your manager of any factors which may affect your ability to perform in your role familiarise yourself with, and work within, our policies and procedures, seeking guidance when you need it co-operate with any formal investigation, provide accurate evidence and respect the confidentiality of the parties involved not raise malicious or spurious complaints support colleagues in raising a complaint or in acting as a companion 2. Support and assistance We recognise that whether you are raising a concern or have had a concern raised against you it can be a very worrying time for you. Independent and confidential support and counselling is available to you through the EmployeeCare helpline, which can be contacted on If you are a member of the NGSU, you can contact them on The NGSU will be able to give you advice on the procedures, support and representation if you are raising a formal grievance. If you have any questions which are not answered by this guide or the Grievance Policy, talk to your manager or alternatively contact Ask HR by either; Raising a case via Create an AskHR Case on the Intranet OR Calling AskHR on option 1 In the event that you are invited to a meeting, and require adjustments to be made due to a disability, please contact HR in the first instance. 3

4 3. When does the Grievance Policy apply? We can all help to avoid problems and concerns arising by following Nationwide policies, observing our PRIDE values and behaviours, and communicating openly, clearly and honestly. When problems arise, the Grievance Policy explains how you can raise any concerns, both informally and formally. Most problems can be resolved by discussing them at an early stage. You should try to resolve any day to day problem by discussing it directly with your manager, who will work with you to resolve your concern. You should generally only raise a formal grievance if the problem is of a more serious nature, or where attempts to resolve the matter informally have not been successful. Your concern might relate to the following: allegations of harassment or bullying concerns about the application of policy and procedure your terms and conditions of employment concerns relating to working relationships discrimination new working practices health and safety We have separate procedures to deal with other concerns you might have with the following areas: flexible working to appeal against a request for flexible working that has been declined whistleblowing to raise a concern, for example of business malpractice, as a protected disclosure in compliance with the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 appeals or other concerns relating to the disciplinary policy or probation policy appeals relating to decisions on redundancy appeals relating to action taken for performance or ill-health appeals relating to your end of year performance rating under the performance management process Using the Grievance Policy is generally not appropriate if it relates to any action being taken in relation to your conduct, performance or attendance. The Disciplinary, Probation Review, Ill Health Capability and Improving Performance policies provide the opportunity for you to state your case and the right of appeal, and if you raise concerns during these processes the nature of your concern will be assessed in conjunction with HR to decide whether to: address your concerns through the existing disciplinary, performance or probation review hearings or meetings address your concerns under the Grievance Policy concurrently with the existing disciplinary, improving performance or probation review procedure temporarily suspend the other procedure to address the grievance 3.1 Collective grievances Items which are collectively negotiated with the NGSU, such as national pay structures, should not be the subject of grievances. You should raise any concerns relating to such issues with your NGSU Representative. If your grievance relates to an issue which Nationwide and the NGSU have agreed to deal with collectively through the Employee Involvement committee structure then you will be informed of this, and you may not be invited to a separate grievance meeting. 4

5 3.2 If you have left Nationwide The full grievance policy and procedure doesn t apply if you have left Nationwide before raising your grievance or part way through the procedure. Your concerns will still be assessed by HR to consider what action might be appropriate. In some cases this may involve getting in contact with you to ask you for more information. If you are invited to attend a meeting to explain your concerns you will be given the right to be accompanied, even if this is after your employment has ended. 4. The grievance procedure: at a glance Informal resolution Try to discuss your concern, directly with the person you have concerns with or with your manager or their manager. Mediation Consider whether mediation might help contact Ask HR, option 6, for more information Resolved Not Resolved Concern arises For more serious concerns Have you considered whether informal resolution can resolve the concern? Grievance Submit your Grievance Form. Attend a grievance meeting. Your grievance will be investigated and the grievance meeting reconvened to communicate the decision. Decision communicated: Grievance upheld Recommendations made where appropriate Decision communicated: Grievance not upheld or If you do not accept the outcome Grievance appeal Submit your written grounds of appeal in writing. Attend an appeal meeting. The meeting will be adjourned to consider the outcome. Decision communicated: Grievance upheld Recommendations made where appropriate Decision communicated: Grievance not upheld or inconclusive Appeal decision is final 5

6 5. The grievance procedure: in detail 5.1 Trying to resolve your concerns informally Often the best and quickest way to resolve your concern is to talk about it with your manager. If you don t feel confident to speak directly to your manager, you can receive further support from the Case Management Team (by calling Ask HR, and selecting option 6) your HR Business Partner or your NGSU representative if you are a member Mediation Mediation is a positive way of resolving concerns between one or more individuals in the workplace and can provide you with the support to resolve your concerns informally. Mediation can be used before a grievance is raised and heard; or if a formal grievance has been raised, the manager hearing the grievance may recommend mediation as part of the outcome. Mediation is designed to bring people together in the presence of an independent and impartial third party, who will work to facilitate a mutually acceptable agreement between those involved. It is purely voluntary, and anyone involved has the opportunity to withdraw from the process at any time. Mediation will usually be provided by a specially trained member of the Case Management Team in HR, and you can contact them for further advice by calling Ask HR on , option 6. Further guidance is available in the Mediation Employee Mini Guide Harassment and bullying We want Nationwide to be a great place to work, and one which does not tolerate any form or harassment or bullying. We all have a responsibility to make sure we identify if harassment or bullying is taking place, and to take action to stop and prevent such behaviours. The Harassment and Bullying Policy provides examples of the types of behaviour that might amount to harassment and bullying. People can be unaware of the effect of their behaviour on others, and bringing this to their attention may be sufficient to resolve the problem. If you feel able to, you are encouraged to deal with cases of minor harassment or bullying informally by approaching the person and asking them to stop the behaviour which is affecting you. You can seek assistance to do this from a fellow colleague, your manager or your NGSU representative. You might also want to consider if mediation could support you resolve your concerns. If this does not resolve your concerns, or if the behaviour is more serious, you should raise a formal grievance under the Grievance Policy. If the complaint relates to your manager, contact Ask HR, Option 6, for advice on who to submit your grievance to. Because we have a responsibility towards you to ensure that such behaviour does not occur, if you discuss concerns with HR or your manager, and if we feel that informal resolution is not appropriate, we may need to undertake a formal investigation even if you are unwilling to submit a formal grievance. 6

7 5.2 Raising a formal grievance If you have not been able to resolve your concern informally or your concern is of a more serious nature you can raise a formal grievance in writing using the grievance form. We ask you to use the form so that we can identify when you wish to raise a formal grievance and to make sure we can get a proper understanding of your grievance. If you don t have access to the intranet you can obtain a grievance form from HR by contacting the Case Management Team on , option 6. On the form you will be asked to explain the nature of your grievance, how you would like to see your grievance resolved, and what attempts you have already made to resolve your concerns informally. If you have raised your concerns to your manager in a different written format, for example in a letter or , your manager will generally discuss with you opportunities to resolve your concerns informally. Once completed, give the grievance form to your manager, who will then contact the HR Case Management Team. If the grievance relates to your manager, call Ask HR, option 6, for advice on who to submit your grievance to. You should raise your grievance without unreasonable delay, as soon possible after the actual issue has occurred. Memories of specific events can fade or become unreliable, and the investigation can be affected where there is significant delay between an event and the complaint being raised. We appreciate that grievances can cause stress and anxiety for all those involved, including those people who have had a grievance raised against them. To make sure your concern can be dealt with promptly, and to treat everyone fairly it is important that you provide as much detail as possible on the grievance form. If there is insufficient information, you may be asked for a full explanation either before the grievance meeting is arranged, or at the meeting. 5.3 How your grievance will be dealt with A member of the Case Management Team will initially assess your formal grievance. If they believe that your complaint should be dealt with under another policy, or that there is an opportunity to resolve your complaint informally or through mediation then they will discuss this with you. 6. The grievance meeting You will be provided with at least 48 hours notice of your grievance meeting. The letter you are sent will remind you of the right to be accompanied. We will normally try to arrange the meeting within 15 working days of receiving your formal grievance. 6.1 Chairing the grievance meeting We will identify a suitable manager to chair your grievance meeting. They may be accompanied by a representative from HR. The HR representative will take minutes and may also ask some questions during the meeting. Sometimes, another manager may take the place of the HR representative, but their role will be to take minutes of the meeting. If the matter is very complex, it can be helpful to involve an independent third party to take detailed minutes to make sure that all of your comments are noted. If there is a lot of evidence to consider, the manager may want to refer back to your comments in reaching a decision, so it is important that these are recorded accurately and in full. If we feel that a separate minute taker would be beneficial, this will be discussed with you in advance to seek your agreement. 7

8 Alternatively, if HR are in attendance they may arrange for a recording to be taken though this option will be at their discretion. If this is offered, they will explain how this will work and confirm that you are in agreement with the recording taking place. 6.2 Grievance meeting agenda At the grievance meeting the manager hearing your case will ask you to explain your concerns; will listen to you; ask you questions to make sure they fully understand the nature of your grievance; and try to understand the resolution you seek. The manager will confirm with you the next steps in investigating or addressing your grievance based on your discussions. The manager hearing your grievance will also normally agree with you whether to rearrange the appeal meeting to inform you of the outcome. 6.3 Investigations During an investigation, it may be necessary to discuss your grievance with other individuals. This can include people who have relevant information or knowledge relating to a policy or its application; people who may have witnessed alleged events; or, where relevant, the person about whom the grievance has been made. In exceptional circumstances and at its complete discretion Nationwide may instruct an external party to undertake part or all of a grievance investigation. The findings of any external investigator will be submitted to the manager hearing your grievance (or appeal) for consideration. The final decision will be made by the Nationwide manager who has been appointed to hear your grievance or appeal. It is important that employees are able to give information freely and without fear of intimidation. Attempts to interfere with evidence or intimidate or influence witnesses will be treated seriously, and may be dealt with under the Disciplinary Policy Confidentiality and witness evidence As a starting point, we will try and treat all information received sensitively and in confidence, though in order to conduct a full investigation, it may be necessary to share full witness evidence with both the person who has raised the complaint, and the person who has been complained about. If you have been named as a potential witness, you may be interviewed and asked to provide a factual statement of events. If you have concerns about this you should discuss these with the manager or HR representative involved in the investigation. It is important that employees co-operate fully with investigations to ensure that we can make sure that breaches of our procedures do not occur or continue. We want you to feel able to give evidence, in good faith, without fear of any victimisation for doing so. Any concerns you have will be treated sympathetically and we will consider each case carefully. In exceptional cases we may take measures to protect the identity of witnesses, although total anonymity cannot be guaranteed. This decision will be made in conjunction with HR, and the reasons for any decisions made will be recorded. Where it has been agreed to protect the identity of a witness, anonymous statements, or a summary of the statements, might still be provided to the person complained about. 6.4 Grievance meeting outcomes The manager s role is to listen to your concerns, objectively consider all of the evidence presented during the investigation, and reach a reasonable decision on the basis of this evidence. After carrying out any necessary investigation, the manager, with the support of HR, will consider the findings of the investigation and reach a decision. The outcome of your grievance may be to: uphold your complaint, in part or in full 8

9 not uphold your complaint confirm that there is not enough evidence to reach a decision Regardless of the outcome, the manager may recommend actions to be taken to prevent any reoccurrence of your concerns. These actions may include support, coaching or training; a period of monitoring and review; mediation; temporary or permanent redeployment of one or both parties (for example, where the complaint is against another person). 6.5 Grievance outcomes appeals If you do not accept the outcome, you have the right to raise an appeal in writing, within 10 working days of receiving the written outcome of your grievance. You should clearly state your grounds for appeal, which may be due to, but are not limited to, the following: procedural flaws your belief that the decision reached was inappropriate in the circumstances any new information that is now available but was not at the time of the original meeting If you are putting forward new evidence or information you should include a copy of this with your letter of appeal. The Case Management team may discuss with you if they believe there is an opportunity to resolve your concerns without an appeal meeting or where your grounds of appeal are unclear. You will be given at least 48 hours written notice of your appeal meeting, and we will normally try to arrange the meeting within 10 working days of receiving your written appeal. Your letter will remind you of your right to be accompanied. The purpose of the appeal meeting is to gain a real understanding of the nature of your appeal, explore opportunities for resolution and consider what further investigation may be necessary. The manager will carefully consider the grounds of your appeal, the information you have provided at the appeal meeting, together with any further investigation if this is necessary before informing you of the outcome. The manager hearing your appeal will agree with you whether to rearrange the appeal meeting to inform you of the outcome. The outcome of your appeal may be to: confirm the original decision overturn the original decision in full or in part The outcome of an appeal meeting is final and there is no further right of appeal. 7. Grievance timescales All grievances are different and any timescales will depend on the nature and complexity of the matter and the availability of people who may be involved in any investigation. In all cases though, we will work to deliver the outcome of your grievance as soon as possible and we will give you an indication of how long we think the investigation process will take. We will normally aim to provide you with an outcome to your grievance within four weeks of your grievance meeting, but this might be affected by a number of factors. We will discuss with you the anticipated timescales for resolving your complaint and keep updated you on the progress of your grievance. 8. Right to be accompanied If you are invited to a formal grievance meeting or appeal you have the right to be accompanied. Your companion may be one of either a: 9

10 representative of the NGSU workplace colleague an official of another trade union (who will be asked to show written evidence that they are certified to act as a companion unless they are employed by the union) Your choice of companion must be reasonable, for example, may not be someone who would have a conflict of interest in attending (such as a witness). You should notify HR of your choice of companion in advance of the meeting, you will be advised how to do this in your written notification of the meeting. Where appropriate, you may be offered the opportunity to be accompanied at other meetings, such as investigatory meetings, but you do not usually have a right to be accompanied at these meetings and you will not usually be given the right to request that these meetings be postponed. It may not always be possible to give you advance notice of an investigatory meeting. 8.1 What if my chosen companion is not available? If your chosen companion is not able to attend the meeting, you have the right to request that the grievance or appeal meeting be rescheduled to take place at a reasonable alternative time, falling within five working days after the original date. If you need to propose an alternative time, you should contact AskHR by either; Raising a case via Create an AskHR Case on the Intranet OR Calling AskHR on option 1 Remember, it is your responsibility to arrange to be accompanied. If your companion becomes unavailable to attend a re-scheduled meeting, you may choose to bring an alternative companion, provided they meet the criteria listed above. 8.2 The companion s role Your companion may: provide you with support and help you prepare for the meeting address the meeting to present or sum up your case respond to any views expressed during the meeting request short adjournments to confer with you during the meeting A companion is not normally permitted to answer questions on your behalf; however if you are accompanied by a representative of the NGSU then they may provide responses for you. If you are given the opportunity to be accompanied at an investigatory meeting, your companion will not be permitted to address the meeting, or answer any questions for you. 8.3 Acting as a companion If you are asked, and agree to act as a companion for another employee, you should let your manager know as soon as possible of the proposed date and time of the meeting. Your salary will not be reduced to reflect the time spent acting as a companion. You should let your colleague know as soon as possible if you would rather not, or are unable to, act as a companion, so that they can make other arrangements. 10

11 Nationwide Building Society, Head Office, Nationwide House, Pipers Way, Swindon, Wiltshire SN38 1NW. Owner: Employee Relations (Version 4 October 2015) 11

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