Difference Between Grievance And Disciplinary

The terms ‘grievance’ and ‘disciplinary’ are often grouped together, but in practice, they are separate issues. As an employer, its crucial to appreciate the difference between grievance and disciplinary to ensure your policies and procedures comply with the relevant laws, regulations, and guidance.

Here, our specialist HR advisors explain the difference between grievance and disciplinary and your responsibilities in respect of each as an employer.

Call us now on 01491 598 600 or email us on  cw@gaphr.co.uk and we will be delighted to help you.

What Is The Difference Between Grievance And Disciplinary?

A workplace grievance is a complaint lodged by an employee with their employer. Grievances can encompass a wide range of issues, from the minor to the very serious. Regardless of the nature of the grievance, it’s essential that you handle it appropriately and with sensitivity and tact. This maintains a productive work environment and avoids the issue escalating and becoming acrimonious.

Examples of common workplace grievances include the following:

  • Harassment.
  • Unacceptable working conditions.
  • Excessive workload.
  • Underpayments.
  • Unrealistic deadlines.

In contrast, a disciplinary is an issue raised by an employer with their employee. Disciplinary issues can stem from misconduct or poor performance.

Examples of common disciplinary issues include the following:

  • Persistent absenteeism or lateness.
  • Insubordination.
  • Inappropriate behaviour.
  • Bullying.
  • Poor performance.

Essentially, the difference between grievance and disciplinary is who raises the issue. Grievances are raised by employees, whereas disciplinaries are raised by employers.

What Is The Difference Between Grievance And Disciplinary Policies?

You must implement policies to address grievance and disciplinary issues. You must also ensure that all employees are aware of your policies by communicating them in writing. You might do this by including them in your staff handbook or annexing them to your contracts of employment.

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, also known as ACAS, has developed a Code of Practice that covers grievance and disciplinary policies. Incorporating the measures outlined in this Code into your organisation’s policies can significantly reduce the risk of a tribunal ruling that you acted unfairly in dismissing an employee.

The steps detailed in the Code apply to both grievance and disciplinary procedures. They include the employer carrying out the appropriate investigations, holding a meeting with the employee, and allowing the employee to appeal a decision they consider unfair or wrong.

The overarching purpose of the Code is to ensure employers act fairly in connection with disciplinaries and grievances. ACAS expressly accepts that not all employers will be able to comply with all provisions of the Code. For example, an organisation with a small workforce may not have sufficient people for the individuals that investigate the matter to be different from those who conduct the disciplinary meeting and the appeal. ACAS notes that the tribunal will take account of a business’s size and resources when deciding whether their actions were fair.

Our team of leading HR experts is here to provide guidance and advice on the specific provisions of the Code that an organisation likes yours might be expected to adhere to. We will thoroughly review your working practices and develop employment policies that are both realistic in the context of your business and legally sound.

Why Do You Need To Follow The ACAS Code Of Practice In Your Grievance And Disciplinary Policies?

You are not legally obliged to follow the ACAS Code of Practice when undertaking grievance or disciplinary procedures, and failing to do so does not in itself mean your actions were unfair and open you up to legal proceedings. However, there are some potentially very serious ramifications of not adhering to the provisions of the Code. If an employee brings a claim against you alleging unfair dismissal, the tribunal will assess the extent to which your disciplinary processes complied with the Code when deciding whether your conduct was fair. Moreover, if the tribunal finds that the dismissal was unfair and orders you to pay compensation to the employee, it may increase the level of compensation it awards by up to 25% to reflect your failure to adhere to the provisions of the Code.

Accordingly, by implementing grievance and disciplinary policies that align with the ACAS Code insofar as they need to, you not only minimise the risk of facing unfair dismissal proceedings, but also strengthen your position in relation to any claim that is brought and reduce your potential damages liability.

Our experienced HR advisors specialise in assisting small business with HR and employment law issues. We will identify your organisation’s potential staff issues and highlight any areas of risk. We will review and update your contractual documentation where appropriate and ensure all your employment policies are up to date with current employment law requirements. If you’re considering redundancy or disciplinary action, or have received an employee grievance, speaking to us before taking any action can ensure you act within the law and reduce your chances of facing legal proceedings.

Call us now on 01491 598 600 or email us on  cw@gaphr.co.uk and we will be delighted to help you.

Difference Between Grievance And Disciplinary

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