Workplace disputes can be expensive for employers and catastrophic for business. Because of this there are set principles and government guidelines that employers should observe in these situations.

If you are faced with an employee raising a grievance remember that the ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures is there to protect both employees and employers. This Code sets out the core principles that must be followed by all parties involved.

Amended Code of Practice

As of 6 April 2009 the government has reformed the processes of dealing with problems at work. These changes put less emphasis on the mechanics of how to manage disciplinary issues, grievances or dismissals and places the onus on flexibility to resolve problems at an early stage. The content of the Code is easy to grasp and straightforward. On handling disciplinary issues and dismissals it sets out the following steps for employers to follow:

  • establish the facts of each case
  • inform the employee of the problem
  • hold a meeting with the employee to discuss the problem
  • allow the employee to be accompanied at the meeting
  • decide on appropriate action
  • provide employees with an opportunity to appeal.

Advice for employers

As an employer, it is advisable to implement strong and direct workplace communications as this will reduce the possibility of any issues going to an employment tribunal. This might include some sort of mediation stage in your internal processes, and some employers train their managers to mediate problems at an early stage to stop them from escalating in to tribunal cases.

In light of the Employment Act 2008 (that came in to effect this April) it is advisable to review all procedures relating to grievance and disciplinary matters to ensure that they are compatible with the new law. It would also be advisable to identify where a more relaxed or informal approach to dealing with workplace disputes would be more appropriate. The reasoning behind this change can be seen as an attempt to place substance rather than procedure at the heart of resolving workplace disputes. It will hopefully see an increase in the number of workers who stay in their jobs as well as having a positive impact on workplace relations and reduce costs through limiting tribunal action.

To avoid any issues with employment tribunals, many employers implement procedures to protect themselves from any employee action. London Registrars can prepare an employment package containing all policies, terms of employment and documents you will need for your employees. The employment manual will comply with the current legislation and HR trends and be tailored to your specific requirements. In producing a fair package which is available to all, you will be creating written procedures for all employees to follow and in doing so avert disputes and the possibility of having to go to costly tribunal hearings.