Grievance Procedure. for Support, Research, Teaching & Scholarship and Casual Staff

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1 Grievance Procedure for Support, Research, Teaching & Scholarship and Casual Staff 1

2 Contents Grievance Procedure ) Aims of Procedure ) Scope ) Confidentiality ) Definition of terminology ) Monitoring and Review of the Procedure ) Equality and diversity ) Procedure ) The Role of the Trade Union Representative or Colleague ) Informal Stage ) Formal Stage ) The Grievance Hearing ) Appeals ) Long Term Sickness ) Holiday Periods ) Revision or Termination of the Procedure ) Aims of Procedure 1.1 The purpose of the grievance procedure set out below is to provide a means for dealing fairly and promptly with any grievance which an employee may have in the course of, and/or connected with, his or her employment. The existence of a grievance procedure allows employees, and in some circumstances former employees, to explore grievances and resolve them with managers rather than harbour grievances, which is not in the interests of good employee relations. 1.2 The aim of this procedure is to facilitate the process of resolution and to enable problems to be resolved as close to the point of origin as possible. Employees are encouraged, where possible, to try to resolve grievances informally in the first instance. 2) Scope 2.1 This procedure relates to Support, Research, Teaching & Scholarship and Casual staff other than those normally excluded by reason of the items below: a) An attempt within 12 months of the completion of action under the grievance procedure to restart the procedure in respect of the same or similar grievance unless any action or remedies resulting from the original grievance has not been implemented. This will not apply in cases where there is substantial new evidence found which warrants a new hearing. b) A declared grievance in connection with a matter which is being investigated or is connected with current disciplinary proceedings or any disciplinary action that has been imposed against the employee who is subject to the disciplinary procedure; the employee should usually follow the separate disciplinary and appeals procedure as appropriate. 2

3 c) A declared grievance in connection with alleged unsatisfactory attendance for which the employee is subject to the sickness absence management procedure. d) Collective disputes. (Please refer to a senior member of the Human Resources Directorate for further information or guidance if you think this might be the case). e) A declared grievance in connection with redundancy, termination of fixed term contract or grading. The employee should follow the appeals procedure set out in the relevant policies and procedures in each of these cases. f) Complaints against bullying and harassment which should be addressed initially under the School s Dignity at SOAS Policy & Procedure (Staff Complainant Edition) Any formal complaints will be addressed through the appropriate Grievance Procedure. f) A grievance about a matter over which the School has no control. 3) Confidentiality 3.1 Documentation relating to employees will be treated with the utmost confidentiality and related documentation will be subject to the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) as appropriate. Employees will have the right to feedback and to access any documentation held on them that fall within the scope of the DPA. 3.2 All records relating to the grievance will be retained in line with the School's Retention Schedule, which can be found at: During the formal stages of the grievance procedure, all parties need to respect the rights of all concerned. In particular, the aggrieved party and the employee who is the subject of the grievance should not discuss any aspect of the grievance raised with any other colleagues than their line manager, their trade union representative/colleague or with the Human Resources Directorate. 4) Definition of terminology Area: The relevant Faculty, Directorate or IFCELS. Service Area: Professional Services Directorate such as the Library & Information Services, Finance & Planning or Estates & Facilities. Manager of Service Section: a manager of a team or section which forms part of a Directorate and will normally report to a Director of Professional Services. Line manager: the line manager will be the individual nominated by the Dean of Faculty or Director of Professional Services or Head of IFCELS to have supervisory responsibility over the employee. 3

4 Working day: a working day is defined as a weekday (Monday to Friday) but excluding Public Holidays and such additional days as when the School is deemed to be closed. 5) Monitoring and Review of the Procedure 5.1 In order to monitor compliance with and the effectiveness of SOAS s Grievance Procedure, a senior member of the Human Resources Directorate may be invited to, or elect to be present at, any stage of the grievance procedure. 5.2 Annual reports on trends and statistics relating to grievances will be provided to the School s Equality and Diversity Committee. 5.3 This Procedure will be reviewed regularly in line with any changes in employment legislation. 6) Equality and diversity 6.1 The procedures outlined here should be carried out with due regard to any diversity issues which may have affected either the original situation or the current process. The School s Diversity Adviser and diversity specialists within the Human Resources Directorate are available to support colleagues in this area. 6.2 Where a diversity issue (e.g. a disability including chronic physical or mental health conditions) has been disclosed to the School, whether prior to the situation which triggered this process or during the process, the line manager co-ordinating the process is responsible for checking with the employee to determine their needs and for making the appropriate arrangements. 6.3 Employees who have not previously disclosed a diversity issue which may be relevant to this process are encouraged to do so, as early as possible, so that it can be taken into account. 7) Procedure 7.1 Managers and staff are expected to resolve the vast majority of issues arising as part of the working relationship without recourse to the grievance procedure. If, however, such discussions break down, the aim of this procedure is to resolve the grievance as near as possible to the point of origin. At any stage in this procedure, a senior member of the Human Resources Directorate will be available to discuss the grievance procedure informally and without commitment on either side. 7.2 Every effort will be made to hold a meeting to discuss the employee s informal or formal grievance or appeal (see below) and to provide a decision within a reasonable timescale as specified in this procedure. However, if the matter is a complex one or if it requires a detailed investigation, or if the relevant personnel are unavailable, it may not be possible to meet those timescales. In these circumstances, the employee will be informed of the reason [for the delay] and the timescale in which a meeting will be held or a decision can be expected. 4

5 7.3 The employee must take all reasonable steps to attend any meeting arranged to discuss his or her grievance. At formal meetings, a senior member of the Human Resources Directorate will be present to advise and there will also be a note taker present, appointed by Human Resources, who will keep a record of what is discussed and any outcomes agreed at the meeting. Time limits may be extended if management and the employee agree. 7.4 The senior member of the Human Resources Directorate present has the authority to overrule the manager where there is a significant risk to the School should the proposed course of action be followed. 8) The Role of the Trade Union Representative or Colleague 8.1 Both the complainant and the respondent have the right to be accompanied by a colleague or trade union representative to any formal grievance meetings. 8.2 If the employee is to be accompanied, it must be agreed beforehand whether the companion is attending as a representative or as a colleague. A representative may put the employee s case, respond on the employee s behalf to views expressed at the hearing and sum up. A colleague s role is to support them and act as witness to the proceedings. Neither a representative nor a colleague may answer questions on behalf of the complainant or respondent. 8.3 Consistent with the fact that a grievance hearing is an internal procedure, such attendance is restricted to other employees of the School or officials of recognised trade unions. Such representation should normally be limited to a single representative. Solicitors, family members and all other non-employees will be excluded from grievance hearings except in exceptional circumstances i.e. it may be appropriate for a family member to attend if the employee has a disability. 8.4 It is the employee s responsibility to ensure that his or her chosen representative/colleague is willing to accompany him or her and is available to attend the meeting. If the employee s chosen representative/colleague is unavailable on the proposed date, the meeting may be postponed by up to 5 working days at the employee s request. 5

6 9) Informal Stage 9.1 In order to resolve the matter, as speedily and amicably as possible the exact grounds of the grievance should be clarified quickly. 9.2 In many circumstances, it may be possible to resolve minor grievances directly by the employee speaking to the person(s) against whom they have a grievance, and asking them to cease or change their behaviour as appropriate. In instances where the employee feels unable to do this themselves, they should approach their line manager to do this on their behalf. If the grievance concerns the line manager, then the employee should approach the Human Resources Directorate or their trade union representative to do this on their behalf. 9.3 If this initial approach fails to resolve the grievance or where the grievance is of a more serious nature, the emphasis should be on getting the parties together in an informal way which may be arranged by the line manager and which might best be facilitated by the intervention of a mutually agreeable third party. Such a person could be another senior colleague or member of management from a different Faculty or Department. At this stage there is no compulsion on the other party to participate in such an informal and unrecorded interview. The purpose of this interview is to resolve the matter speedily. [Where the employee s complaint cannot be resolved informally it should be raised using the formal procedure set out below.] 9.4 As an alternative to raising a complaint through the formal grievance procedure, or at any stage during the formal procedure, the complainant may instead request that the matter is dealt with through mediation. Mediation is voluntary and will only take place with the agreement of all relevant parties. 9.5 Once the formal Grievance Procedure has been instigated, where mediation is agreed in principle, the formal grievance procedure will be adjourned whilst the mediation takes place. In the event that no mutually acceptable solution is reached through mediation, the formal grievance procedure will be reconvened, recommencing at the point of adjournment. 9.6 The mediation is conducted by a trained mediator, who will aim to help the parties in dispute to come to an agreement and resolution. The mediator may be external to SOAS, will be neutral to the dispute and will be there to facilitate the parties towards achieving a mutually acceptable resolution. 9.7 If the complaint is resolved through mediation, the mediator will assist the parties in drafting a written agreement that will be signed by all relevant parties as evidence of the mutual acceptance of its terms. 6

7 10) Formal Stage 10.1 At all stages in the formal procedure, the employee has a right to be accompanied by a representative of a recognised trade union or a work colleague A employee wishing to proceed with a formal grievance shall confirm in writing to his or her immediate line manager the subject and reason for the grievance without unreasonable delay (e.g. normally within ten working days) of the incident giving rise to the grievance occurring or the unsatisfactory resolution of any informal grievance process taking place. The employee should also include in the letter all details of the grievance, including the dates and times of any incidents complained of and the names of any witnesses involved and how they think the grievance should be settled. In cases where employees have difficulty expressing themselves in writing they should be encouraged to seek help from a work colleague or trade union representative. A copy of the grievance letter should be sent to the Human Resources Directorate by the employee If the grievance relates to actions or behaviour directly related to the individual s Line Manager, then the employee should confirm in writing the nature of the grievance to the next level of management which would normally be the Head of Academic Department/Centre or Manager of Service Section The Human Resources Directorate will invite the employee to attend a hearing to discuss the grievance without unreasonable delay (normally within 10 working days) of receiving the employee s written complaint. The employee must give the employer sufficient details of his/her grievance so that the School has the opportunity to consider it in advance of the hearing The employee is responsible for arranging the attendance of any witnesses that they wish to call to the hearing and for informing their witnesses of the purpose of their attendance An employee who cannot attend the hearing should inform the employer in advance whenever possible. If the employee fails to attend through circumstances outside their control and unforeseeable at the time the meeting was arranged (e.g. illness) the School will arrange another meeting. If the aggrieved employee or the person who is the subject of the grievance and/or their respective representatives fail to attend the re-arranged meeting without good reason, the hearing may be held in their absence; inferences may be drawn from their non-attendance and decisions may be taken at that hearing. The HR Directorate will make every effort to encourage attendance at the hearing If an employee s trade union representative or colleague cannot attend on a proposed date, the employee can suggest another date so long as it is reasonable and not more than five working days after the date originally proposed by the School. This five day limit may be extended by mutual consent. 7

8 11) The Grievance Hearing 11.1 The hearing will normally be conducted by the employee s immediate line manager (where that person is the object of the grievance the next level of management will conduct the hearing) and advised by a senior member of the Human Resources Directorate The Structure of the Hearing The employee, or their representative/colleague, will be asked to present the supporting facts and material concerning the grievance including the calling of any witnesses. They should also state how they think it should be settled. If a grievance has been raised against another employee they are also entitled to have a representative/colleague present at the hearing. The employee and the manager conducting the hearing will be entitled to question any witnesses. The employee who committed the alleged act resulting in the grievance will then be given the opportunity to respond (if the grievance relates to an alleged act) and they and/or their representative/colleague will be given the opportunity to summarise to the panel. The employee, or their representative/colleague, will be given the opportunity to summarise to the panel Certain exceptional cases may involve particularly sensitive circumstances or the perceived possibility of intimidation of one of the parties and/or either party may request their evidence to be heard separately. In such exceptional cases, following consideration of the circumstances, the manager conducting the hearing may decide to hear each of the parties separately to ensure that the grievance is properly aired. The manager conducting the hearing will be responsible for ensuring that both sides are fully apprised of the other s responses, in the interest of natural justice The manager conducting the hearing may adjourn the proceedings at any stage, or consider a request for an adjournment from the employee who raised the grievance, if this appears necessary or desirable. If adjourning to enable further information to be obtained, they will specify the nature of that information. Any adjournment will normally be for a stated period On completion of the proceedings, the manager conducting the hearing will respond in writing to the employee s grievance (normally within 5 working days) and provide a copy of the minutes of the hearing. A copy of these documents will be placed on the employee s personal file. The employee will be notified of his or her right to appeal against the decision if he or she is not satisfied with it. If it is not possible to respond within 5 working days, the employee will be given an explanation for the delay and informed of when a response can be expected Should the employee request clarification of the decision, a meeting with the senior member of the Human Resources Directorate who advised on the hearing will be arranged. 8

9 11.7 Should the decision comprise one or more recommendations for action, the manager who conducted the hearing will review the case to ensure that these are undertaken within a defined period and, where they are not, will liaise with the HR Directorate to ensure that the appropriate measures are taken. 12) Appeals 12.1 The Purpose of the Appeal An appeal hearing is the means by which the School, acting as a reasonable employer, provides those employees who wish to do so, with a consistent forum in which to present a case arguing that the decision taken at the grievance hearing is incorrect Notification of Appeal Hearings An employee wishing to appeal against any decision taken through the grievance procedure should appeal in writing to the Director of Human Resources within 10 working days of notification of the hearing outcome, stating the full grounds of their appeal, the basis for the appeal and providing all necessary supporting documentation. It should be noted that in this context, an appeal hearing is not a re-hearing and the grounds for appeal are therefore limited to procedural issues or because new evidence has come to light 12.3 The Human Resources Directorate will invite the aggrieved employee to an appeal hearing without unreasonable delay. Normally this will be within ten working days of receipt of notification by the Human Resources Directorate of the employee s decision to appeal. The letter of invitation will be copied to the employee who is the subject of the grievance The appeal will normally be conducted by a manager who is senior to the manager who held the grievance hearing. This would normally be the Head of Academic Department/Centre or Manager of Service Area. The manager hearing the appeal will be advised by a senior member of Human Resources Directorate who was not involved at the original hearing. The appeal will follow the same process as the original hearing. As the appeal hearing is not a re-hearing, witnesses will only normally be present at the hearing if new evidence has come to light. A note taker will be present at the appeal hearing to record minutes A copy of the employee s written statement will be passed to the line manager who conducted the grievance hearing. The manager will prepare a written response to the appeal, which s/he will present at the appeal hearing. A copy of this statement will be sent to the employee, together with details of its date, time and location, not less than five working days prior to the hearing If the aggrieved employee wishes to be accompanied at the appeal, it will be their responsibility to provide Human Resources with the name of their representative/colleague, and to provide that person with all information and documentation relating to their appeal. This will include the date and time of the hearing The employee who is the subject of the grievance hearing may choose to attend the appeal hearing and should notify the Human Resources Directorate of their attendance and if they will be accompanied by a work colleague or trade union representative. 9

10 12.8 The aggrieved employee or the manager who conducted the grievance hearing who cannot attend the appeal should inform the Human Resources Directorate in advance whenever possible. If the aggrieved employee or the manager who conducted the grievance hearing fails to attend through circumstances outside their control and unforeseeable at the time the appeal meeting was arranged (e.g. illness) the School will arrange another appeal meeting. If the aggrieved employee or the manager who conducted the grievance hearing fail to attend the re-arranged appeal meeting without good reason, the School reserves the right to conduct the appeal hearing in their absence and/or the absence of their representative. Inferences may be drawn from their non-attendance and a decision may be taken at that appeal hearing. The HR Directorate will make every effort to encourage attendance at the appeal hearing If an employee s trade union representative or colleague cannot attend on a proposed date, the employee can suggest another date so long as it is reasonable and not more than five working days after the date originally proposed by the School. This five day limit may be extended by mutual consent The roles of the Trade Union representative or colleague and the note taker will be the same as at the original hearing On completion of the proceedings, the manager conducting the appeal will confirm in writing without reasonable delay (normally within 5 working days), the outcome and the reason for the decision. This shall be the final stage of the procedure. If it is not possible to respond within 5 working days, the employee will be given an explanation for the delay and informed of when a response can be expected Minutes of the appeal hearing will be circulated to all parties at the end of the process by the note taker. 13) Long Term Sickness 13.1 In cases of long term sickness where it is impossible to follow the above steps the normal procedure may not be followed as circumstances are beyond the control of either or both parties. 14) Holiday Periods 14.1 In cases where there are long holiday periods, the School will make arrangements with the employee to enable the grievance to be resolved as quickly as possible to the satisfaction of both parties. 10

11 15) Revision or Termination of the Procedure 15.1 The operation of this procedure will be periodically reviewed. Any amendment to it, after consultation with the School s recognised trade unions, will be advised to staff who will also be informed of the date when the amendment will come into effect. The procedure is not contractual and may be terminated by the School upon giving not less than three months' notice to staff to whom it relates. If terminated, a new procedure will be introduced to supersede the existing policy. Approved by Executive Board on 17 June 2013 Final revised version agreed with UCU and UNISON on 28 August

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