Falkirk Council places great emphasis in having a well-motivated workforce. We encourage open and honest communication at all levels. There will be occasions, however, when employees may feel aggrieved either about a condition of employment matter or the way in which they have been treated.

The Grievance Policy aims to encourage open communication between employees and line managers to ensure that problems arising during the course of employment can be raised and, where possible, resolved quickly and to the satisfaction of all concerned. In some instances, the matter will not be resolved informally and may lead to a grievance hearing or grievance appeals. This guidance is intended to assist managers in chairing such hearings.

  1. Table of contents

Assessing competence of grievance

Following receipt of a formal grievance, you should:

  • Establish whether the issue raised falls within the remit of the Grievance Policy. If not, you should advise the employee in writing.
  • Determine whether, depending on the nature of the grievance, an investigation is required prior to any hearing.
  • Consider whether it is appropriate to explore whether there is an opportunity to resolve the issue informally. In such circumstances, you should contact the employee or their representative to agree a way forward.

If a hearing is required, you must advise the employee, in writing, of the arrangements for a formal hearing. A standard letter is available from HR.

The employee must take all reasonable steps to attend the meeting.

You should ensure that an HR representative is available to advise you at the hearing.

All parties should be made aware that they are personally responsible for contacting any witnesses they may wish to call during the hearing.

In advance of the date of the hearing, you should make sure that a room is available which is large enough to accommodate everyone in comfort and without interruption.

Separate rooms should be available for each party to use prior to the hearing and during any possible adjournments.

You must ensure that any documents submitted in connection with either the employee or management case are circulated to all parties in advance of the hearing.

Format of the hearing

It is important that the hearing should be conducted in as relaxed a manner as possible as it can be a distressing experience for all involved in the process. You should open the hearing, introduce the parties and be as welcoming and friendly as possible.

You should will explain the format of the hearing and advise that it is only points raised in connection with the grievance/appeal that will be relevant and any other issues will be excluded. An HR Adviser will assist to ensure that only the relevant issues are addressed.

The following outlines the process to be followed at the hearing:

  • You should ask the employee or their representative, to present their case outlining specifically the reasons giving rise to the grievance/appeal. At this point the opportunity is given to call witnesses to support the employee's evidence.
  • You should then invite questions from the management representative, following on from which you may seek any point(s) of clarification. Human Resources may also ask questions but are restricted to points of clarification.
  • Once you are satisfied that there are no further matters to be raised, you should invite the management representative to put forward their case. At this point the opportunity is given to call witnesses to support management's case.
  • The employee or their representative will have the right to question the management representative, after which again, you can seek any point(s) of clarification. Human Resources may also ask questions to clarify any matters.
  • The Hearing can be adjourned, where necessary, to clarify any point of detail of the grievance. If this happens, you must state the period of adjournment.
  • Following completion of the submissions, you should invite the management representative in the first instance, to summarise his/her case, followed thereafter by the employee or his/her representative.

It is important that you take notes through the hearing as, at the end of submissions, you should summarise the hearing and the main points of both presentations.

You should then ask the employee if they have been given a fair and reasonable opportunity to present their case. If the response is 'no' then you must ask for a further explanation and take the stated concern into account when giving your decision. If the procedures have been followed this is highly unlikely to happen.

Making the decision

The hearing should then be adjourned to allow you to come to the decision. Even if during the course of the hearing, you have an idea of what the decision may be, it is advisable that the adjournment is used to allow the opportunity to consider the facts and seek advice from any Adviser present. If a decision cannot be made during an adjournment, it can be put in writing within the agreed timescales.

All the facts of the case should be reviewed as they have been presented. The role of the Human Resources Representative is to provide you with advice on the case and details of any relevant case law, legislation, precedents and terms and conditions of the contract of employment, which can be taken into account. It is for you to decide upon the merits of the grievance/appeal.

If you are able to reach a decision, you should reconvene the hearing to advise the employee of your decision and the reasons why it has been reached. You should confirm this in writing within 5 working days. If you require more time to reach a decision, your decision should be confirmed in writing within 5 working days once it has been reached. The decision letter should outline the conduct of the grievance hearing, the decision taken and the reasons for this. A standard letter is available from HR.

The employee must also be made aware of their right to appeal against the decision within 10 working days of receiving the written confirmation of your decision. Where you are considering a grievance/appeal from another Service, a copy of your decision must be forwarded to the employee's Service.