When filing a grievance against a fellow employee. What is the procedure that should be followed?

What is a grievance?

A grievance refers to a complaint or any form of workplace discontentment or dissatisfaction that an employee may have with his employer, manager or fellow employee that needs to be addressed by the management of a company.

An employee is free to raise any grievance and will not be subject to victimisation. This process does not deal with issues related to compensation, unfair labour practices, demands for other benefits or as an appeal mechanism following a disciplinary hearing.

Steps to Filing a Grievance

The first step is to bring the grievance informally to your immediate supervisor, who has a certain amount of time to resolve the issue.

If the immediate supervisor cannot resolve the matter, the employee may take the complaint informally to someone above, such as a line manager. This can also be done formally by filing a grievance form, and the issue should be addressed within the applicable period.

If the above fails, the employee may escalate the issue to the HR department. The employee can complete a formal grievance letter or a Pro-forma grievance form and submit it to the HR department.

Once the complaint is lodged, the HR and employer have an applicable period to come up with a resolution with the employee. This time can be extended if the parties agree to it mutually, in writing.

It is important to include a time limit in each of the steps above to resolve the issue within a reasonable period.  All parties must, however, stay cognizant of the nature of the grievance and that time period cannot be seen as a “one size fits all” as certain grievances might require proper investigation and even counselling.

In terms of the formal hearing, management should appoint an impartial chairperson to chair the grievance hearing.

All relevant information is to be made available to the parties at the meeting for consideration.

All relevant witnesses (if applicable) that the parties may wish to call are to be available at the time of the meeting.

The employee and the company or their representatives have an opportunity to present their case fully and to ask questions of each other’s witnesses.

The chairperson, having heard the matter, shall make his / her findings and ensure that these are set out, in writing, within a reasonable period subsequent to the conclusion of the hearing.

If the formal grievance hearing remains unresolved, the employee has the right to declare a labour dispute at the CCMA or appropriate Bargaining Council.

The benefits of a grievance procedure are to promote sound labour relations, which are needed to increase productivity at work and ensure employee satisfaction.


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