But be warned! What you think might be petty nonsense could actually land you in a heap of trouble if you don't take grievances seriously. You have to deal with grievances the minute you receive them, otherwise you'll be held responsible for not acting on your employee's complaint.
Let's look at what you have to do when an employee lodges a grievance.
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Make sure you have a grievance policy in place
Now, I know I often tell you to have sound policies and procedures in place, and I'll say it again. You must implement a grievance policy for these three reasons:
Your employees know what they can do if they have a grievance;
Your managers know how to handle grievances when your employees raise them; and
You can resolve grievances before they escalate into full-blown disputes that can cost you money and time!
Here's what to include in your policy..
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Let's look at nine basic elements your grievance policy must include:
The assurance to all employees that they're free to raise grievances and they won't be victimised if they do.
The assurance that where possible, grievances will be handled with discretion, protecting confidentiality and privacy of everyone concerned.
Set out who the grievance must be lodged with in the first instance.
Set out the various stages or levels that the grievance should go through.
Give a guideline for how long it should take to deal with the grievance at each level.
But be careful of giving inflexible time frames in which the grievance must be dealt with at each level, as this might not be possible in some instances.
Indicate the final level a grievance can go to in an effort to resolve it internally.
A requirement that the employee who has a grievance put his complaint in writing. This is so you know what the grievance is all about.
A requirement that the employee who has a grievance puts in writing what outcome he's looking for to resolve his grievance. This'll help you know what you're aiming for to resolve the matter.
Specify what the employee can do if he's still unhappy after the grievance has reached the last level. Usually this will simply be a statement that the employee is then free to exercise his rights under the Labour Relations Act (LRA).
Make sure you handle all grievances internally, quickly and fairly. It's probably a good idea to allow the aggrieved employee to bring in a shop steward, if he's a union member, or a co-employee to help him present his case.
You should encourage anything that helps you deal with the grievance effectively.