Grievance procedure

Procedures in the workplace refer to an official manner in which specific situation must be handled. The purpose is to inform the employer and the employee about the necessary steps when a specific incident occurs. We strongly advise employers to implement a grievance procedure. It is extremely important for the employer to establish internal communication procedures to give employees the opportunity to bring any unhappiness or unsatisfactory working conditions to the attention of the employer. An orderly and positive working environment contributes directly to productivity. We advise employers to implement a grievance procedure.

What is a grievance?

A grievance is any feeling of dissatisfaction form an employee regarding the employer, working environment, fellow employees or any other aspect of the employment relationship. Take note that dissatisfaction with regards to conditions of employment, remuneration, enforcing of discipline, or retrenchment, is not considered a grievance and therefor cannot be addressed by the grievance procedure.

Who can lodge a grievance?

Every employee, irrespective of his/her job level, has the right to lodge a grievance without fear of victimisation, regarding working conditions that has a negative impact on the employment relationship. When an employee lodges a grievance, he/she my be assisted by a fellow employee or representative. Employees are however reluctant to lodge a grievance, which contributes to unhappiness and unsatisfactory working conditions.

What is the purpose for a grievance procedure?

  • The purpose of the grievance procedure is to firstly create a harmonious working environment by identifying and resolving any dissatisfaction or feeling of injustice form an employee.
  • Secondly, the grievance procedure protects the employer in cases of constructive dismissal. In such a case, the commissioner at the CCMA will always ask if there was a grievance procedure that the employee could have followed. Constructive dismissal refers to when an employee resigns due to unbearable working conditions.

How does a grievance procedure work?

The procedure refers to how a grievance must be handled, as well as the different steps if the matter cannot be resolved during the first step. Each workplace is unique in terms of procedures and challenges, so we recommend to following steps as a guideline to ensure that a grievance is handled in a fair manner:

Step 1

The employee must refer a grievance in writing or verbally, to the supervisor within two days after the incident. If the grievance is against the supervisor, the employee must refer the grievance to the assistant manager or next level of seniority.

Step 2

If the grievance is not resolved within two days, the grievance must be officially referred to the assistant manager or the next level of seniority. The employee may ask a fellow employee to assist or represent him/her.

Step 3

If the grievance is not resolved within two days, the employee must refer the grievance to the manager or next level of seniority.

Step 4

If the grievance is not resolved within two days, the employee must refer the grievance to the employer. The employer must investigate the grievance and make a decision within five days. The employer’s decision is final and binding.

Be proactive

Be proactive by focusing on the following three aspects:

  • Ensure that a grievance procedure has been implemented in the workplace ant that all employees are aware of the procedure, as well as every employee’s right to lodge a grievance. Policies and procedures are usually implemented with the employment contract when an employee is appointed. Otherwise, the employer can discuss the policy or procedure during a meeting with employees where an attendance register is signed as proof.
  • Ensure that grievances are handled consistently, confidently, fairly and promptly.
  • It is the employer’s best interest to encourage employees to lodge grievances by following internal communication procedures to address and limit dissatisfaction in the workplace.

The grievance procedure plays a very important role in the workplace. This way grievances are handled internally in order to find a solution that is acceptable to both parties. The relationship between an employer and employee is based on mutual benefits and respect. Clear rules and guidelines ensure that friction and misunderstandings are limited. This will increase productivity and promote a positive working environment.

Employers must manage business risks daily to ensure the company’s profitability and sustainability. To comply with labor legislation is not negotiable and poses great business risk to the employer. Procedures in the workplace refers to a fixed or official way to handel a situation. Procedures are aimed at informing both the employer and employee about the necessary steps to be taken when a specific incident occurs.

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Magdelie Grobbelaar

Magdelie Grobbelaar

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