Grievance Investigation

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Grievance Investigation

One of your employees has raised a grievance.  Do you have a written grievance policy or procedure? 

It is good practice that you follow your procedure this will ensure a consistent and fair process is used and if you do not have a grievance procedure it would be good practice to use the ACAS code of practice.

There are two approaches in dealing with grievances:

  • The informal approach which is the best approach if possible

  • The formal approach where an investigation will need to be carried undertaken

The grievance investigation will:

  • Make sure everyone is treated fairly

  • Gather all the evidence

  • Help the employer to see what should happen next

Following a fair process

To protect everyone involved in a grievance case, the employer must make sure they follow a fair procedure. The investigation is an important part of this process.

If the employer does not carry out a reasonable investigation, any decisions they make in the grievance case are likely to be unfair and could risk legal action.

Who should undertake the investigation?

Where possible, the employer should get somebody independent and who is not involved in the grievance to carry out the investigation, this could be another manager or someone from HR or an external consultant.

The investigation will need to consider:

  • Meeting the individual who has raised the grievance and their right to be accompanied

  • What needs to be investigated

  • Are there any witnesses to be interviewed

  • What are the sources of evidence, work records, training records, emails, CCTV footage, policies and procedures

  • Setting out the importance of confidentiality

Any formal grievance investigation can be stressful for the employee and those involved so it is important for employers to consider the wellbeing and mental health of their employees and offer support where needed.

How long should a grievance investigation take?

All investigations should be completed as quickly as possible and it always needs to be thorough, reasonable and fair.

Some investigations may take longer than others and this will depend on the grievance and how many people need to give information and where the information is being collected from.

Some employers will have timescales for investigations set out in their policy, which should be followed if possible but in any event the grievance investigation should be completed in a reasonable timescale according to the particular grievance.

What happens when the grievance investigation has finished?

Once the investigator has completed their investigation, they should produce a written report with their recommendation regarding the grievance. This report will need to be shared with the individual who raised the grievance.

A few tips to help you carry out a grievance investigation:

  • Keep written records

  • Take care to ask the right questions

  • You should verify information

  • Conduct a thorough investigation

  • Ensure that the investigation is fair and reasonable

Should you outsource a grievance investigation?

Any grievance investigations and the outcome from those investigation should be achieved after following a fair, thorough, and timely process. There are times when this is difficult to accomplish within the business due to a lack of resources, experience, and someone independent. This is when the use external specialist investigator can be the best and most cost-effective option saving management time and it ensures that the grievance is handled promptly and independently.

If you need support with carrying out a workplace investigation, our consultants are highly experienced, please do contact us.

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