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Employment Claims Employment Law Procedures and Policies

Don’t make the mistake of falling in love with your grievance

Workplace grievance?

I meet a large number of employees on a daily and weekly basis. The vast majority of them have something bothering them in connection with their job or workplace. 

A small number are simply seeking clarification about an aspect of employment law or their contract of employment or something related.

But most of them have some issue that is eating them up and causing them stress and anxiety. Some issue which causes them confusion and uncertainty and maybe even damages their confidence and sense of self worth. 

This may go so far as to have the employee questioning whether to stay in the job or move on or take some other course of action such as a career change.

Occasionally, however, I encounter a small number of employees who seem to have fallen in love with their grievance. They appear to have developed a highly attuned sense of being wronged. 

These persons appear to be happier being in conflict with their employer, especially if they have actually been wronged as a consequence of the employer making some mistake in dealing with them, rather than sorting out the issue and moving on.

These employees, rather than being committed to a quick resolution of the problem that has arisen, want to prolong the situation and want to nurture their sense of being ill used. Some even want to watch the employer squirm and bend over backwards to accommodate them.

Fair enough. Human nature is human nature and we all, from time to time, take satisfaction from watching the other party abase themselves to try to make amends for some slight or wrong.

But this can be a dangerous game, one which can backfire. The long term relationship between employee and employer can be damaged beyond repair, especially if the employer has taken great steps to sort out the problem.

I only encounter this on an infrequent basis. But there appears to be a healthy number  of individuals who would rather drag their grievance around with them like a clanking chain than arrive at a solution and move on to normal resumption of the employment relationship.

This is a mistake which should be guarded against. You need to pick your battles and ensure that you do not make the mistake of winning a battle and losing the war. 

It is the long game you need to keep in the forefront of your mind, not some short term win which may carry hidden costs.

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Employment Law Procedures and Policies Videocast

Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures-The Facts You Should Know

workplace-discipline

It’s fairly simple, you know.

One of the easiest ways for employers to blow a lot of cash is to fail to follow proper procedures when dismissing an employee.

No matter how justifiable the dismissal may be it will be a costly affair if proper procedures are not followed.

Employers have a legal obligation to provide their employees with written procedures to be followed before dismissal of an employee.

The safest approach for the employer to take is to follow the best practice set out in Statutory Instrument 146/2000. The Labour Relations Commission have published codes of practice for many aspects of employment.

Here is the Labour Relations Commission code of practice for fair disciplinary and grievance procedures.If you are an employer it will pay you to read it and be very familiar with it.

It is not mandatory to adopt the procedures set out but it makes good business sense to do so. It is particularly important in workplaces where there is no trade union and the employee is relying on individual representation.

Both the Employment Appeals Tribunal and the Civil Courts will measure your procedures against what is set out in the Industrial Relations Act, 1990 Declaration Order when it comes to adjudicating in a dispute.

The guiding principles of a good disciplinary and grievance procedure is that

  1. It is fair
  2. It is clear
  3. The penalties that can be imposed are clear and
  4. There is an internal appeals mechanism.

Broadly good practice demands that

  1. The issue is brought to the attention of the immediate manager and then progressed up the line to more senior management
  2. The employee is represented
  3. Referral to a third party depending on local arrangements.

The penalties should include, in the first instance an oral warning, then a written warning, then a final written warning, suspension without pay, transfer to another job or part of the company, demotion, and dismissal.

The basic test at all stages of the procedure is “what would a reasonable employer do in the circumstances” and this will depend on the problem, be it incompetence, misconduct, or whatever issue arises. There is no set number of warnings required as it will depend on the circumstances and cases of serious misconduct may justify moving to a later stage of the procedure more quickly.

Less serious problems may be dealt with by pointing out the shortcomings, providing the opportunity to improve, the offer of training and allowing room and time for improvement. When this route is adopted the employees should be advised of the consequences of not improving and what penalties may apply.

For employers it is strongly advisable to have your grievance and disciplinary procedures reviewed regularly as the legislation can be updated regularly, case law may necessitate change, and the circumstances in the workplace can necessitate it.

Successful claims for unfair dismissal or constructive dismissal can be incredibly expensive for the employer.

Firstly there is the award to be paid to the successful claimant and then there is the time and money and legal advice required to prepare for a Rights Commissioner or Employment Appeals Tribunal hearing.

You might also be interested in a step by step disciplinary  procedure.

You may be interested in how to avoid costly employment related claims.

Online Training Course

You may be interested in my online training course: How to Carry Out a Disciplinary Procedure in the Irish Workplace