We place great emphasis in having a well-motivated workforce. We encourage open and honest communication at all levels. There will be occasions, however, when you may feel aggrieved either about a condition of employment matter or the way in which you have been treated.
The Grievance Policy aims to encourage open communication between you and your line manager to ensure that problems arising during the course of your employment can be raised and, where possible, resolved quickly and to the satisfaction of all concerned.
This Policy applies to all Falkirk Council employees. It is designed to address individual grievances and aims to:
- achieve a fair and equitable method of resolving any grievance
- provide consistency in the treatment of employees
- assist in the efficient and effective operation of the Council
- comply with employment legislation and ACAS guidelines
What is a grievance?
The ACAS Code of Practice relating to Grievance at Work refers to Grievances as 'concerns, problems or complaints that employees raise with their employers'. Issues which grievances may relate to include:
- Terms & conditions of employment
- Health & safety
- Work relations
- New working practices
- Working environment
- Organisational change
- Discriminatory Practices
Issues likely to fall outside the scope of the grievance policy include:
- grievances raised by an ex-employee
- grading issues covered by the Council’s Job Evaluation Policy
- grievances that are the subject of, or may be considered under, a collective dispute which will be dealt with in line with the Council’s Disputes Policy
- where an employee raises a concern as a ‘protected disclosure’ under the Council’s Whistleblowing Policy
- allegations of bullying, harassment or victimisation which should be considered under the Council’s Dignity at Work Policy
- counter complaints during/ following a disciplinary process which should be considered as part of the Disciplinary process
- matters for which there is a separate right of appeal e.g. appeal against disciplinary action or actions taken under the Council’s Capability Policy
- complaints relating to the right to request access to information requests
If you are unclear whether the issue you wish to raise or have addressed would fall under the scope of the policy, advice can be sought from Human Resources or your Trade Union in the first instance.
Is the grievance competent?
Aside from the examples cited above, there may be other occasions where management do not consider that the grievance submitted is competent. This may include:
- Where the grievance relates to the introduction of an agreed Council Policy
This does not prevent you raising a grievance where you consider that the agreed policy is being unfairly implemented/ applied.
- Where the grievance relates to matters over which the Council has no control
- Where you have previously raised the same grievance
In such circumstances, where management do not consider that the grievance is competent:
- If you are a trade union member –all relevant trade union convenors will be contacted for their view on the competency of your grievance. If all trade unions agree that it is not competent, you will be notified that your grievance will not proceed. If there is no agreement, your grievance will progress.
- If you are not a trade union member, the Head of Human Resources & Business Transformation and the Chair of the JTUC will jointly assess the competency of your grievance.
In many instances, a grievance can best be resolved in an informal manner in open discussion with your Line Manager, or in writing. This requires both you and your manager to seek to resolve the grievance as speedily and effectively as possible. It encourages effective management and good communication between employees and line managers.
In some cases, an independent line manager from the same Service may be involved to seek an informal resolution without progressing to a formal hearing. This option would be facilitated by Human Resources, with a view to agreeing a resolution.
Another option where you have been unable to resolve the issue with your manager in the workplace, is to consider the use of an independent third party to help resolve the issue. This may involve an independent mediator. Should the parties concerned wish to make use of third party intervention, this should be notified to Human Resources who will be responsible for making appropriate arrangements. This is not appropriate for grievances relating to contractual terms and conditions.
If your grievance is not resolved on an informal basis, you may be able to progress to the formal grievance procedure.
To ensure fair treatment, where you have raised a grievance informally with your line manager and remain dissatisfied, you can raise the grievance to the next level of line management as outlined below.
Where you have raised a formal grievance, in the interests of good employee relations, no alteration will be made to the existing Conditions of Employment which gave rise to your grievance, or to the established working practices, until the grievance has been suitably resolved and the procedure itself exhausted. In circumstances however, where the issue involves service users/clients or a matter affecting the Health and Safety of an individual, the appropriateness of this arrangement will be discussed.
If despite any informal attempt to resolve the grievance, you remain dissatisfied, you have the right to submit the grievance to an appropriate more senior manager within 5 working days of receipt of the outcome. This must be in writing and must:
- Specify your reasons for raising the grievance
- Confirm whether informal approaches have been unsuccessful or were not practicable
- Indicate the resolution sought
The manager shall formally acknowledge receipt of your grievance and will either:
- determine that, depending on the nature of the grievance, an investigation is required prior to any hearing. In such circumstances, you should be advised in writing if this is the case
- consider it appropriate to explore whether there is an opportunity to resolve the grievance by informal means. In such circumstances, they should contact you and/ or your representative to agree a way forward
- arrange for a hearing normally within 5 working days of receipt of your letter
You would be formally notified of the outcome of the hearing within 5 working days.
If the matter is not resolved to your satisfaction then you have the right of appeal to your Chief Officer/Director within 10 working days of the receipt of the written outcome of Stage 1. This must be in writing and specify the grounds of your appeal. Any appeal received after this time scale will not be considered, unless good cause is shown for the appeal being made late. The Service Director/ Chief Officer will make arrangements for the appeal to be heard. Where this cannot be done within the Division concerned, the chairperson will be determined by Human Resources.
Where the grievance appeal relates to the application of a non-discretionary national condition of Service, the appeal chair will be at Service Manager/ Headteacher level or other more senior officer.
Prior to the appeal being heard, if it is expressly agreed between the parties, Human Resources will arrange a meeting to mediate the matter. This process should occur within 10 days, unless there are exceptional circumstances. If this process is unsuccessful, then the appeal will proceed.
Following from the appeal hearing/mediation you will be formally notified in writing of the outcome within 5 working days.
This is the end of the grievance process unless the matter is related to the application of a non-discretionary National Condition of Service. This relates to nationally determined Conditions of Service which do not allow for any discretion or local determination on the part of the Council.
Where your grievance relates to a non-discretionary National Condition of Service, you may be able to progress an appeal to the Appeals Committee of the Council.
Appeals only progress to this stage if you have pursued either or both the mediation and the hearing outlined in Stage 2.
Any such appeal must be submitted to the Chief Governance Officer within 10 working days of written notification of the outcome at Stage 2 and must clearly specify;
- the reasons for the appeal
- the appropriate Clause of the National Conditions of Employment giving rise to the appeal
The Appeals Committee of the Council will normally hear your grievance within 20 working days following receipt of the appeal or as soon as the Committee can be convened.
The decision of the Appeals Committee will be notified to the appellant either at the conclusion of the Hearing or alternatively within 10 working days and in any event will be confirmed in writing. With the exception of teachers (see below), this is the end of the Grievance process. The matter will not be reconsidered by the Council should you raise this issue again.
Teacher’s appeals procedure
When a teacher or other associated professional has exhausted the Council’s grievance/appeals procedure and remains dissatisfied, they may refer their case to the Joint Secretaries of the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT) which has put in place a conciliation and appeals mechanism for grievances relating to National Conditions of Service Matters. Any such appeal will only be considered where it relates to the interpretation or implementation of a SNCT national agreement. Teachers cannot appeal matters devolved to the Local Negotiating Committee for Teachers (LNCT). A full detailed copy of the Appeals procedure can be found in SNCT 09/12.
Notice of an appeal to the SNCT must be lodged by the appellant or their representative with the Joint Secretary (Employers’ side) and the Joint Secretary (Teachers’ side) within 20 working days of the outcome of the local appeal. The Joint Secretaries will consider whether the appeal is competent. Where the appeal is held to be competent the Joint Secretaries can issue advice to both parties to assist resolution. Such advice cannot be binding.
Where advice is issued but does not resolve matters or there is failure by the Joint Secretaries to agree on advice to resolve matters, the case will be referred to an Appeals Panel of the SNCT.
The decision of the Appeals Panel will be final and binding.
LNCT failure to agree
Where Conditions of Service matters are devolved to the LNCT and where there is a failure to agree at school level on any relevant matter, the Council and the unions will seek to resolve matters without delay through discussion in the LNCT.
Where agreement between the two sides of the LNCT is not possible, either side may refer the failure to agree to the Joint Chairs of the SNCT for conciliation, where there is no conflict of interest. If the conciliation is unsuccessful the Joint Chairs of the SNCT may recommend further procedures for resolution of the difference, including external conciliation, mediation or arbitration. Before a failure to agree is reached a joint approach can be made to the Joint Secretary (Teacher’s side) and the Joint Secretary (Employer’s side) for advice. Such advice is not binding.
Grievance relating to a disciplinary matter
Where an employee raises a grievance during a disciplinary process, the disciplinary process may be temporarily suspended in order to deal with the grievance. Where the grievance and disciplinary cases are related it may be appropriate to deal with both issues concurrently.
Grievance procedure – Chief Officer
If a grievance is raised by a Chief Officer or a Director the matter should be referred, in the first instance, to the Head of Human Resources & Business Transformation who will make the appropriate arrangements. If this course of action is not appropriate, the matter should be referred to the Chief Governance Officer.
If a grievance is submitted by a Chief Officer against a decision or actions of the Chief Executive, written notification should be submitted to the Head of Human Resources & Business Transformation who, in conjunction with the Chief Governance Officer, will make appropriate arrangements to deal with the complaint.
Thereafter, if the Chief Officer is still dissatisfied, Stage 3 of the grievance procedures will apply (as detailed above).
Grievance procedure – Chief Executive
Should the Chief Executive wish to raise a grievance, written notification will be submitted to the Chief Governance Officer who will consult with the Leader of the Council. Thereafter arrangements will be made for the grievance to be appropriately addressed by mutually agreed arrangements with the Leader of the Council. Any appeal, which requires to be considered at a hearing, will be considered by the Appeals Committee of the Council.
Where the employment has already terminated, an individual has the right to raise a complaint in writing in accordance with Falkirk Council’s Complaints Procedure.