Roles and Responsibilities
1. Employee: The individual who has a concern and is raising the grievance. Their role is to explain the basis for their grievance. This may relate to a decision taken, or not taken, which they believe is unfair, or behaviours they are experiencing from a colleague. They should also be clear on the resolution sought, the basis for this and how it may be achieved. Where-ever possible, the Employee should initially raise the issue informally by talking to the person responsible for the decision or behaviour. Raising your concern in a timely and measured manner may often resolve the matter without the need for any formal process.
At all stages they may seek support from their manager, HR or a trade union representative. If they feel they are experiencing bullying or harassment they may also contact a Respect Adviser. They may also make use of the Employee Assistance Programme.
The Employee should actively engage in the process and do what they can to assist in resolving their grievance. They should also do what they can to depersonalise the issues. Whilst in many cases a grievance may relate to treatment by a manager or colleague, the grievance should focus on the situation or behaviours which give rise to the concerns and the resolution being sought rather than being raised as “against” a person. They should respond promptly to any request for information from the Grievance or Appeal Manager and to any request to review draft notes of meetings. In relation to the notes they may add additional clarification or information but this must clearly be marked as such.
2. Respondent (s): The person (or people) identified by the Employee (or potentially the Grievance Manager) as responsible for the issues being raised. During any informal stages they should do all they can to understand the Employee’s concerns and explore ways to mutually resolve them. They may be the Employee’s line manager in which case this should form part of their normal dialogue with them and managers should seek to create an environment where any concern can be raised freely and discussed.
During the formal resolution stage the Respondent (s) should fully engage in the process, responding to questions raised by the Grievance Manager and, where possible, making suggestions as to how the matter might be successfully resolved. They may also suggest additional witnesses who they believe would have relevant input to the matter. They should also act to implement any recommendations made by the Grievance Manager seeking support from their own line manager as appropriate.
It is important that the Respondent(s) are supported through any formal process. They may be accompanied at any formal meetings by a Trade Union Representative or Colleague and may raise questions with their college/US HR team or speak to their own line manager. They may also make use of the Employee Assistance Programme.
3. Line Manager: The Employee’s line manager may be the Respondent (see above). Alternatively, they may take the role of the Grievance Manager but only if they have not had any prior involvement in the situation.
If they are not the respondent the line manager should take appropriate actions to support the Employee through the process. They may provide guidance to the Employee; simply discussing a situation with them may assist in resolving it. Actions may include approaching others (including the Respondent) during the informal stage to support the Employee in seeking a resolution. They may seek advice and support from their college/US HR team or a more senior manager at any point whilst respecting the confidentiality of the Employee as far as possible.
The Line Manager may also have responsibility for delivering or supporting the delivery of any recommendations arising from the formal stages of a grievance. Even if the actions are assigned primarily to others (for example where there is a recommendation to review a particular policy), the Line Manager should take responsibility to monitor these and ensure the Employee is kept informed and is supported accordingly.
4. Grievance Manager: The manager assigned to consider the Grievance at Stage 1. Their role is to seek to resolve the grievance, in a transparent and impartial manner. They meet with the Employee to understand the basis for the grievance and the resolution sought. They will conduct any investigation required, including meeting with the Respondent. The Employee and Respondent may identify potential witnesses and the Grievance Manager will consider which to see recognising the need to keep this to the minimum without compromising the need for a fair and reasonable process. If a decision is taken not to interview a potential witness the rationale for this should be explained to the Employee and/or Respondent when delivering the outcome or at any 2nd investigation meeting.
Following the investigation, the Grievance Manager will reach a conclusion on the outcome and make appropriate recommendations to resolve the grievance. They will then communicate these to the Employee and confirm them in writing. They will also inform any other relevant parties of the outcome and actions required to take forward the recommendations. This may include recommending that the matter is progressed via the Disciplinary policy.
The Grievance manager, with support from HR, is responsible for ensuring that as far as possible, both the Employee and the Respondent are kept informed and feel equally supported and fairly treated throughout the process. The Grievance Manager should, as far as possible, conduct the process within the timelines outlined in the Procedure. Where this is not possible then it is important to keep all relevant parties updated. If participants (including the Employee or Respondent) seek reasonable extensions to the timelines for personal reasons, including those potentially relating to a disability or illness, the Grievance Manager should accommodate these as far as practicably possible whilst taking the welfare of all participants into consideration.
5. Witnesses: These are University employees who the Grievance or Appeal Manager needs to meet to conduct their investigation. Occasionally it may be necessary to approach third parties outside the University who are believed to have witnessed relevant events. Grievance Managers should seek advice from HR before approaching a third party on behalf of the University. The role of any witness is to respond openly and honestly to any questions posed by the Grievance/Appeal Manager in relation to the issues raised by the Employee. If they have detailed knowledge of a situation they may also suggest ways in which they believe the grievance may be resolved.
All witnesses interviewed must respect the confidentiality of those involved and will only be informed of such details of the grievance required to enable them to respond to questions.
Witnesses will not typically be informed of the outcome of the grievance though it may be appropriate for the Grievance Manager to inform them once the process is concluded that the matter is closed.
6. Appeal Manager: The manager assigned to consider an Appeal at Stage 2 of the Formal Process. Their role is to review the paperwork and process conducted at Stage 1, to consider any additional information provided by the Employee and to reach a conclusion on the grievance appeal. They are not assigned to re-hear the original grievance but to consider whether the process followed at Stage 1 was robust and fair and whether the outcome and recommendations were reasonable. They will typically carry out a full review of the papers from Stage 1 and may carry out some additional investigations if new information has been raised. In delivering their conclusions they will also make recommendations to support those involved to move forward.
7. HR Representative: The Head of HR for the College/University Services will assign HR Representatives to support Management through the process. The role of the HR Representative is to support the Grievance Manager and Appeal Manager in their considerations. They may provide advice on the process, the conduct of any investigation and the communication to the various parties involved. They may also advise on potential options for resolution, sharing information on relevant policy matters and precedence relating to the case. The HR Representative does not make the decision on the outcome but may be asked to support the actions arising from any recommendations made by the Grievance Manager or Appeal Manager.
The HR Representative will always aim to ensure that all parties are treated fairly and with respect and are both guided and supported through the grievance process.
The HR representative may also be called upon to provide support and advice to the Employee or their line manager, particularly at the informal stages. If the Employee has sought advice from HR at the informal stage the Head of College/US HR should consider whether an alternative HR Representative may need to be assigned to support the Grievance Manager. This should also be considered when a case moves to an Appeal Hearing.
The HR Representative is responsible for retaining documents relating to the Grievance and the investigation and recording the outcome on the HR System.
8. Accompanying Trade Union Representative or Colleague: To support those involved in the process and assist them in preparing for any meetings and presenting information to the Grievance Manager or Appeal Manager.
Their role is to support the Employee as they seek a resolution to their grievance. They may assist the Employee to prepare for any meetings, defining the issues and any supporting evidence and also the resolution they are seeking. The may present information at any meetings on behalf of the Employee and help them to ensure the Grievance Manager has as full an understanding as possible. They may not answer questions on behalf of the Employee.
If accompanying the Respondent (or a witness) the role is the same.
The Trade Union Representative or colleague may request an adjournment during any meetings if they feel this is required. They may also make suggestions as to how the grievance might be resolved.
9. Note Taker: The role of the note taker is to record any formal meetings and produce a summary note of the key points raised. This is not a verbatim record but it is important that all parties consider it to be a fair record. The Note Taker should retain any hand-written notes of the meeting for six months after the meeting and should then destroy them. NB. The University does not permit the recording of any meetings held under this policy and procedure.
The draft note will typically be reviewed by the Grievance or Appeal Manager prior to being issued to the Employee, Respondent or witness for their review.
Grievance Roles and Responsibilities was developed in consultation with the campus trade unions and has been agreed by the HR Committee in May 2016.