Publication - Consultation paper

NHS 'Once for Scotland' workforce policies: consultation on core policies

Published: 17 Apr 2019

This consultation focuses on the policies for grievance, conduct, capability, bullying and harassment, attendance and the investigatory process for workforce policies.

NHS 'Once for Scotland' workforce policies: consultation on core policies
5. Grievance

5. Grievance

5.1 Aim
5.1.1 To offer a clear process for all parties to air their differences and seek resolution.

5.2 Scope
5.2.1 This policy applies to all employees and workers such as bank, agency and sessional workers.

5.2.2 A grievance is a complaint from an employee or group of employees (collective grievance) regarding their employment situation.

5.2.3 Potential areas of grievance include but are not limited to:-

  • Terms & conditions of employment
  • Health & Safety
  • New working practices
  • Organisational Change

5.2.4 If the complaint is about working relationships please refer to the NHSScotland Bullying & Harassment Policy <Link to Bullying and Harassment Policy>.

5.3 Definitions
5.3.1 Collective Grievance

This occurs when a group of employees have a shared grievance related to their employment situation.

5.3.2 Grievance
A grievance is a complaint from an individual or group (collective grievance) regarding their employment situation.

5.3.3 Individual Grievance
This occurs when one employee raises a grievance with their employer.

5.3.4 Status Quo
Status quo is defined as the working arrangements in place at the time that the grievance is raised, or where necessary consultation has not taken place, the working arrangements in place prior to the change.

5.4 Roles and Responsibilities
5.4.1 Line Manager

  • Attempt to resolve issues raised by employees fairly, consistently and in a timely manner.
  • Discuss concerns at the earliest opportunity, utilising early resolution to manage the issue without delay.
  • Be approachable and take time to make themselves available for those who they manage.
  • Keep employees fully informed on progress relating to the grievance.

5.4.2 Employee

  • Participate and co-operate with others in ways aimed at resolving issues.
  • Actively participate in the process in an attempt to address the issue without delay.
  • State what would be seen as a suitable outcomes.

5.4.3 There are a range of standard expectations on all parties and on HR, Trade Union representatives and Occupational Health which underpin all policies <Link to standard roles and responsibilities>.

5.5 Procedure
5.5.1 Early Resolution

5.5.1.1 The route for grievance is shown in the flowchart which outlines the procedure through both the early resolution and formal stages <Link to Flowchart>.

5.5.1.2 When one or more employees feel aggrieved about an issue it should be raised in the first instance with their manager. Where this is not possible, the issue can be raised informally with the next level of management.

5.5.1.3 The manager must acknowledge the grievance in writing inviting the employee to meet to discuss the grievance within 14 calendar days, from notification <Link to standard letter>.

5.5.1.4 Managers and employees are encouraged to deal with the grievance at the early resolution stage. In many instances, conversations between the manager and an employee will be sufficient to ensure that the grievance matter is resolved.

5.5.1.5 The outcome of this meeting will be confirmed in writing to the employee within 7 calendar days. <Link to standard letter>

5.5.1.6 Consideration can be given to use of a third party to assist with early resolution, if agreed by both parties.

5.5.2 Formal Procedure
5.5.2.1 If no resolution is achieved from the meeting, the employee may choose to initiate the formal procedure. They should complete the Grievance Notification Form and submit this to the manager identified in the early resolution outcome letter within 14 calendar days of receiving the written outcome <Link to Grievance Notification Form>.

5.5.2.2 Dependent on the complexity of the case, the requirement for an investigation can be agreed by both parties or commissioned by the Grievance Hearing panel at Stage 1 or 2. <Link to Workforce Policy Investigation Process>

5.5.2.3 The Chair of any panel must have the authority to determine an appropriate outcome e.g. financial implications.

5.5.3 Stage 1
5.5.3.1 The Grievance will be acknowledged in writing and provisional timescales advised. The letter will be sent within 7 calendar days from receipt of the grievance being raised/progressed <Link to standard template letter>.

5.5.3.2 The Stage 1 panel will comprise of a manager, according to the scheme of delegation, as Chair and an HR representative. To ensure impartiality all panel members, must have had no prior involvement in the case.

5.5.3.3 Other persons in attendance may include:-

  • The employee.
  • Accredited Trade Union Representative (if known) and/or work colleague not acting in a legal capacity.
  • The decision-making manager.
  • HR representative supporting the manager.
  • Any witnesses called by either party who will have the right to be accompanied. Witnesses will only be present when giving their own evidence.

5.5.3.4 The Chair will be responsible for writing to all parties no later than 14 calendar days in advance of the hearing and requesting written statements to be shared 7 calendar days before.

5.5.3.5 All grievance hearing outcomes will be confirmed in writing to the employee and their representative within 7 calendar days of the hearing <Link to standard template letter>.

5.5.4 Stage 2
5.5.4.1 In the event that the employee(s) remains dissatisfied the matter should be referred to the second and final formal stage.

5.5.4.2 The employee should complete Part 2 of the Grievance Notification Form and submit this to the manager identified in the Stage 1 outcome letter within 14 calendar days of receiving the written outcome <Link to Grievance Notification Form>.

5.5.4.3 The Stage 2 panel will comprise of a manager, according to the scheme of delegation, as Chair and an HR representative. To ensure impartiality all panel members, must have had no prior involvement in the case.

5.5.4.4 Other persons in attendance may include:-

  • The employee;
  • Accredited Trade Union Representative and/or work colleague not acting in a legal capacity.
  • The Stage 1 Chair.
  • HR representative from the Stage 1 panel.
  • Any witnesses called by either party who will have the right to be accompanied. Witnesses will only be present when giving their own evidence.

5.5.4.5 The Chair will be responsible for writing to all parties no later than 14 calendar days' in advance of the hearing and requesting written statements to be shared 7 calendar days before.

5.5.4.6 All grievance hearing outcomes will be confirmed in writing to the employee and their representative within 7 calendar days of the hearing <Link to standard template letter>.

5.5.4.7 Unless wider organisational issues are identified this concludes the internal process.

5.5.5 Collective Grievances
5.5.5.1 The process to be followed for collective grievances is as detailed for individual grievances, with the exception that all correspondence will be sent to the nominated employee representing the group and their representative.

5.5.5.2 At each stage of the process the group will be represented by a maximum of three people, including the Trade Union representative.

5.5.6 Grievances with Wider Organisational Consequences
5.5.6.1 Where the grievance relates to an issue where the outcome might affect more than one individual and the issue cannot be resolved at Stage 2, it may be referred to the Director of Human Resources and Employee Director. They will be responsible for determining whether the grievance raised has wider organisational consequences beyond the aggrieved party.

5.5.6.2 Examples of issues with wider organisational consequences include: the application of terms and conditions of service, the implementation of a Board-wide policy or matters which could become litigious, or the focus of an industrial dispute.

5.5.6.2 If agreed as having wider organisational consequences, the Director of Human Resources will organise a formal hearing, which will normally be heard by one non-executive and one executive member, supported by a senior member of the HR department not previously involved.

5.5.6.3 This concludes the internal process for cases which fall into this category.

5.5.7 Grievances not concluded at the time of Employment Terminating
5.5.7.1 If a grievance has been raised but not concluded by the time the employment terminates then whatever stage the grievance is at will be concluded with a paper review of the position and a written response given to the former employee within 28 calendar days.

5.5.8 Post-Employment Grievances
5.5.8.1 Should a former employee raise a grievance within 28 calendar days of the employment ending, the matter will be investigated and a response will be given in writing.

5.5.9 Maintaining Relationships
5.5.9.1 The use of status quo provides stand still arrangements to allow the organisation to work normally while attempts are made to resolve the grievance.

5.5.9.2 It is recognised that working relationships can become strained during a grievance procedure. These can be improved by accessing a supported conversation and/or mediation <Link to Guide to Supported Conversations/Mediation>.

5.5.9.3 Wherever possible, the status quo should remain in place until the grievance process has concluded.

5.5.9.4 The status quo may be set aside where:-

  • A continuation of status quo will result in a breach of statutory or other mandatory regulations.
  • An agreement is reached by all parties to do so.
  • The grievance is about a change or action already agreed by all parties.

5.6 Supporting Documentation

  • Flowcharts – there will be a flowchart which shows visually the key steps in the process at each stage when concerns have been raised about the employment situation.
  • Standard letters – standard letters will be developed to ensure all the required content is included in letters for each stage of the process including invite/ review/outcome and appeal letters.
  • Grievance notification form – a standard form to support employees in formulating their grievance for all stages in the process.
  • Guide to Hearings – this document will outline the procedure which will apply during the hearing, the expectations of the parties and the key individuals who will be involved.
  • Links to: The Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) code of practice – disciplinary and grievance procedures; Discipline and grievances at work: the ACAS Guide and Mediation: an Employer's guide (ACAS).

5.7 Consultation Questions

Grievance: Section 5
(6 Questions)

Question 1:
Is the policy easy to read and clear to all parties?

Yes
No

Question 2:
Is the policy fit for purpose?

Yes
No

Question 3:
Does the language reflect our vision for policies to be user-friendly and supportive reflecting NHSScotland core values?

Yes
No

Question 4:
Are there any additions required to the supporting documents listed?

Yes
No

If yes, please specify

Question 5:
Is the definition of status quo sufficiently clear?

Yes
No

If no, indicate the reasons for your response

Question 6:
Please provide any other comments you have in relation to the policy.


Contact

Email: Lynn.Hunter@gov.scot