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Am I wise to raise concerns about grievance process?

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Hi, I'd be grateful for some advice on the appropriateness of a grievance process I am going through.

 

It's a long story but basically after 18 months of pretty unbearable harrassment and bullying I complained about the way my manager was behaving recently with respect to 2 specific examples. My employer is going to treat this as a grievance. The 2 points I raised relate to being criticised for not working while on sick leave and for asking for time to attend an ante-natal appointment (the time off wasn't actually refused, but it was remarked upon later that taking the time off was unprofessional and showed lack of commitment). This was all verbal criticism, but this time it was said in the presence of our head of HR with absolutely no reaction from him and so I feel it was endorsed as the company line. This was the final straw for me so I requested written clarification of whether the 2 examples were indeed in line with the company's policy.

 

So I have a grievance meeting to go through next week. And the investigating officer is a lawyer and a close colleague of my manager. I have never even met him before. gulp! nice and intimidating.

 

I don't believe it's in my employer's interest to find any substance to my grievance so I am pretty convinced the witnesses will not be honest about what was said. But I felt enough was enough so I am prepared for that.

 

What I am most concerned about though is that the manager that is the subject of the grievance, the grievance officer and the witness concerned are all employed by our Dutch head office. But I am employed on UK terms by the UK subsidiary of the company. So although I complained to the Dutch part of the organisation, the grievance is being processed under the grievance policy of the UK subsidiary I am contracted to. The dutch grievance process is much more robust and uses an external company as an investigator and all parties are entitled to legal representation at meetings.

 

So if this grievance process is run by the UK organisation on UK terms I am just struggling to see how in the unlikely event the grievance officer found in my favour, any disciplinary action or reprimand could be imposed by the UK entity on my manager in Holland. Surely my manager will just argue that he has not been through a valid grievance procedure according to his contractual terms. So it seems a bit unfair and pointless.

 

What do you think? Is this a valid concern I should raise before the grievance meeting or during the meeting or should I just forget about it as there is no way they will ever acknowledge I have any right to be upset by what happened?

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Hi, I'd be grateful for some advice on the appropriateness of a grievance process I am going through.

 

It's a long story but basically after 18 months of pretty unbearable harrassment and bullying I complained about the way my manager was behaving recently with respect to 2 specific examples. My employer is going to treat this as a grievance. The 2 points I raised relate to being criticised for not working while on sick leave and for asking for time to attend an ante-natal appointment (the time off wasn't actually refused, but it was remarked upon later that taking the time off was unprofessional and showed lack of commitment). This was all verbal criticism, but this time it was said in the presence of our head of HR with absolutely no reaction from him and so I feel it was endorsed as the company line. This was the final straw for me so I requested written clarification of whether the 2 examples were indeed in line with the company's policy.

 

So I have a grievance meeting to go through next week. And the investigating officer is a lawyer and a close colleague of my manager. I have never even met him before. gulp! nice and intimidating.

 

I don't believe it's in my employer's interest to find any substance to my grievance so I am pretty convinced the witnesses will not be honest about what was said. But I felt enough was enough so I am prepared for that.

 

What I am most concerned about though is that the manager that is the subject of the grievance, the grievance officer and the witness concerned are all employed by our Dutch head office. But I am employed on UK terms by the UK subsidiary of the company. So although I complained to the Dutch part of the organisation, the grievance is being processed under the grievance policy of the UK subsidiary I am contracted to. The dutch grievance process is much more robust and uses an external company as an investigator and all parties are entitled to legal representation at meetings.

 

So if this grievance process is run by the UK organisation on UK terms I am just struggling to see how in the unlikely event the grievance officer found in my favour, any disciplinary action or reprimand could be imposed by the UK entity on my manager in Holland. Surely my manager will just argue that he has not been through a valid grievance procedure according to his contractual terms. So it seems a bit unfair and pointless.

 

What do you think? Is this a valid concern I should raise before the grievance meeting or during the meeting or should I just forget about it as there is no way they will ever acknowledge I have any right to be upset by what happened?

 

 

Hello there,

 

From the looks of what you mention the company does not seem to care about employees' emotions as much as it cares about employees' productivity. If the HR head personally witnessed the bullying and did not comment, its goes without saying that the company is not going to appreciate the grievance and the endpoint of the grievance might just be that the alleged harassment did not happen or that it was not meant to be harassment.

 

I believe a grievance should be a last resort option before exiting from a company - since 95% of the times, I have heard people passing grievances being put on fast track exits from their companies - unless ofcourse the company is that sincere to employees.

 

Just my suggestion/thoughts.

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By the sounds of it, this is a large company? Is that right?

 

If so, you can ask for someone else to chair the grievance if you feel there will be a bias towards the person you are accusing. You can tell them that you are not comfortable and feel you will not receive a fair assessment as you know they are close friends away from work.

 

They will then have to justify why that person can't be changed and if this is a large company, then there will surely be someone else available that is trained sufficiently to handle this instead.

 

Phone ACAS (08457 47 47 47) - fire any question off and you'll get your answers - no advice as they can't do that but they are a great portal of employment law knowledge.

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Hi, I'd be grateful for some advice on the appropriateness of a grievance process I am going through.

 

It's a long story but basically after 18 months of pretty unbearable harrassment and bullying I complained about the way my manager was behaving recently with respect to 2 specific examples. My employer is going to treat this as a grievance. The 2 points I raised relate to being criticised for not working while on sick leave and for asking for time to attend an ante-natal appointment (the time off wasn't actually refused, but it was remarked upon later that taking the time off was unprofessional and showed lack of commitment). This was all verbal criticism, but this time it was said in the presence of our head of HR with absolutely no reaction from him and so I feel it was endorsed as the company line. This was the final straw for me so I requested written clarification of whether the 2 examples were indeed in line with the company's policy.

 

So I have a grievance meeting to go through next week. And the investigating officer is a lawyer and a close colleague of my manager. I have never even met him before. gulp! nice and intimidating.

 

I don't believe it's in my employer's interest to find any substance to my grievance so I am pretty convinced the witnesses will not be honest about what was said. But I felt enough was enough so I am prepared for that.

 

What I am most concerned about though is that the manager that is the subject of the grievance, the grievance officer and the witness concerned are all employed by our Dutch head office. But I am employed on UK terms by the UK subsidiary of the company. So although I complained to the Dutch part of the organisation, the grievance is being processed under the grievance policy of the UK subsidiary I am contracted to. The dutch grievance process is much more robust and uses an external company as an investigator and all parties are entitled to legal representation at meetings.

 

So if this grievance process is run by the UK organisation on UK terms I am just struggling to see how in the unlikely event the grievance officer found in my favour, any disciplinary action or reprimand could be imposed by the UK entity on my manager in Holland. Surely my manager will just argue that he has not been through a valid grievance procedure according to his contractual terms. So it seems a bit unfair and pointless.

 

What do you think? Is this a valid concern I should raise before the grievance meeting or during the meeting or should I just forget about it as there is no way they will ever acknowledge I have any right to be upset by what happened?

 

Do you have a copy of the company grievance procedure? if not ask for one before the meeting is held.

Important thing is that you receive a fair hearing that follows the guidelines, there will be an appeal process and it should be requested if you are not satisfied with the outcome.

If they fail to follow their own procedures then they tread on rocky ground if issues go further.

Before you attend the meeting consider what you want from it and write it down. also write down dates and names of witnesses and the events that happened.

Just because the person is a lawyer is no reason to be intimidated. You are atteding a grievance in which you wish to raise concerns and ask the company to deal with it, if they take it seriously it is unlikely you will get answers the same day as they will want to carry out an investigation.

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Theoretically it should be investigated by an independant person not connected with either parties. However this is difficult in a small organisation but it sounds like a large one. There is another avenue to explore in that most large european companies have a policy where you can blow the whistle on fraud, unfair practices, corruption, etc, etc. They are employed but outside of the company and it is confidential ( supposedly). VW have one which covers Seat, Skoda, VW, Bentley, lamborghini and Bugatti.

 

If you have to object, make sure you have good grounds to do so. Just because the investigator is friends with the person you have made the complaint against does not mean the investigation will not be full and thorough.

 

I do though find it unusual as generally the Dutch are light years ahead of us in terms of fairness and employer rights.

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If the HR head personally witnessed the bullying and did not comment, its goes without saying that the company is not going to appreciate the grievance and the endpoint of the grievance might just be that the alleged harassment did not happen or that it was not meant to be harassment.

 

Quite a sweeping assumption there I feel.

 

There is no evidence that the Head of HR did nothing. It would certainly not be appropriate for him/her to take the manager to task there and then - in front of a subordinate employee.

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Hello

 

Thanks for the input. I would really appreciate your thoughts on the issue that concerns me most.

 

How can a grievance be investigated under UK terms/provisions, when the person who is the subject of the grievance and the person investigating is not bound by UK terms/provisions?

 

Say the outcome of the investigation resulted in a recommendation for disciplinary action against my manager (and pigs fly, I know...). How could the UK organisation impose or progress this?

 

Any thoughts?

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Hello ,

 

Sorry I forgot to respond to that query. I think there is a confusion which you seem to have between the laws applicable in the UK and the different locations your company operates from. The fact is that once the greivance is raised and the company agrees that the cause of grievance is valid, it needs to effect changes so that the cause of grievance is addressed (changing managers or moving you to a different team etc) - this is irrespective of the fact that the manager you refer to works from the dutch premises or UK premises of the company.

 

If the case goes to court, the case is filed against the company not the manager and the company is ultimately held responsible .

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