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What should you do when your grievance procedures and disciplinary procedures overlap?

by , 25 September 2014
Our labour experts always get interesting questions from employers.

One question that came up this week comes from an employer who wants to know how to handle a situation where grievance procedures and disciplinary procedures overlap.

Read on to find out the answer so you'll be able to maintain rules in your workplace.


Here's what to do when grievance procedures and disciplinary procedures overlap


According to experts behind the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service, when looking into the grievance, you might see the employee's complaint about the other employee or manager is valid.

When this happens, you might have to take disciplinary action against the employee or manager. Even if it isn't the result he asked for, you might have to so you maintain your rules or standards.

If you decide to do this, put a hold on the grievance process and start disciplinary proceedings against the appropriate person.

Sound confusing? This example will make things clearer.


 
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Here's an example that shows what to do when grievance procedures and disciplinary procedures overlap
 

Mr Mokaba, a junior employee, complains that his superior, Mr White, makes statements about him in the presence of other employees that he believes are racist. This makes him feel uncomfortable. He also feels that this has been an affront to his dignity. He lodges a grievance with you.

You investigate Mr Mokaba's grievance and find proof that Mr White used racist language. You decide to take disciplinary action.

You put the grievance process on hold and issue a notice to Mr White in terms of your disciplinary procedure, calling him to attend a hearing. The allegation would be that he's used racist language towards or has undermined the dignity of another employee.

The fact that you've started disciplinary proceedings against Mr White might be enough to resolve Mr Mokaba's grievance. But he might have other issues you still need to address over and above the disciplinary action.

He may say he still feels his dignity's affected and he's suffered degradation in the eyes of other employees. He may want a public or written apology from Mr White. Or he might want counselling to help him overcome the stress and trauma from the event. 

You may decide it's better to assist him with counselling than to face the risk of a claim for damages.

Knowing what to do when your grievance procedures and disciplinary procedures overlap will help ensure you maintain rules in your workplace.
 


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