Contemporary Developments in Employee Relations Paper

Description

Acting as an HR (Human Relations) Practitioner, critically assess the need for discipline at work. Critically evaluate grievances, disciplinary procedures, and the use of employment tribunals. I had attached the assignment instructions format in a pdf along with lecture notes to refer to. The answers must have1. real/authentic/true examples or case studies (UK).2. mention of laws, regulations and acts applicable to UK law.3. ‘discuss’ and ‘critically examine’ means to give both the sides of the viewContemporary Developments in Employee
Relations
Lecture 8 – Grievance and Discipline at Work
Omole Iyayi
oiyayi@bradford.ac.uk
Learning Outcomes
• Understand the meaning and causes of grievances at work
• Assess the effective management of grievance procedures
• Examine the need for discipline at work
• Assess the development of employment legislation and
organisational policies to manage discipline
• Understand the need for good and effective employment relations
• Critically evaluate grievances, disciplinary procedures and the use of
employment tribunals
Introduction
• The employment relationship is an economic, legal, social,
psychological and political relationship
• That is governed by a contract of employment containing rules,
procedures, duties and obligations
• The aim is to prescribe and control behaviour
• Grievance – problem with nature of work
• Discipline – transgression of rules
• Procedures are a mechanism for managing individual conflicts in
the workplaces
• However, inherent power inequalities and maintanance of
managerial control
What is a grievance?
• A concern, problem, or complaint that an employee has about
their work, the workplace, or someone they work with—this
includes management.
• A sense of injustice/ feeling of dissatisfaction from when
management violates the rules or when employees withhold
consent (Kelly, 1998)
– But this rarely results in a formal complaint and most are
quickly resolved (Torrington et al., 2011)
Common forms of Employee Grievances
• Pay and conditions
• Relations with supervisors/ line managers (i.e. unfair treatment)
• Work practices, work allocation or the pace of work
• Working time, annual leave or time off work
• Physical working conditions or health and safety
• Promotion, career development or internal transfer
• Bullying at work
• Job grading or classification
• Disciplinary sanctions, including dismissal
• Performance appraisal
• Sexual harassment
• Selection for redundancy
• Relations with other employees
• Sex or race discrimination
• Racial harassment
• Other grievances
(Gennard and Judge, 2010: ch. 13)
Legislation
• Industrial Relations Act 1971
• Employment Protection Act 1978
• Employment Rights Act 1996
• Employment Relations Act 1999 – workers have the right to be
accompanied at grievance hearings i.e. trade union rep or fellow
worker
• Employment Act 2002 – sets out statutory disputes resolution
procedures, to avoid litigation by resolving such issues
New Regulations in 2008
• Section 1-7 of the Employment Act, which applies to the handling
of discipline, dismissal and grievance issues, as well as other matters,
came into force in April 2009
• Employment tribunals now have discretionary powers to adjust
awards by up to 25 percent if employers or employees have failed
unreasonably to comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on
Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=1670
Aims of Grievance Procedure
• Edwards (2005) very few organisations before the 1960s had formal
procedures
• Around 91% of organisations have formal grievance procedures
(Kersley et al., 2006)
• Evident in 99% of public sector organisations – culture of pluralism
(Farnham, 2000)
• Ensure fairness, transparency, and consistency
• Representation assists the individual employee e.g. take on manager
single handedly. May be union rep or colleague
• Procedures limited to 3 stages; preliminary, hearing and appeal
• Require prompt resolution to avoid bitterness, frustration and delay
Principles
• Employers and employees should always seek to resolve disciplinary and
grievance issues in the workplace
• Where this is not possible employers and employees should consider using
an independent third party to help resolve the problem
• The third party need not come from outside the organisation, but could be
an internal mediator, so long as they are not involved in the disciplinary or
grievance issue
• In some cases, an external mediator might be appropriate
Source: Avoiding And Resolving Discipline And Grievance Issues At Work, Dept Business
Innovation and Skills 2009
Advantages of a formal grievance
procedure

Provides a mechanism for employee concerns

Explicit recognition of the right of employees to raise grievances

Clarifies the person with whom the initial grievance should be raised

Acts as a safety valve

Ensures greater consistency of practice across the organisation

Encourages the maintenance of written records

Helps to develop good employee relations practice

Joint development of the procedure leads to ownership by all parties concerned

Ensures that employers meet statutory obligations
ACAS Grieviance Guidelines
Reasons for disciplinary action
• Discipline – the breaking of workplace rules
• Disciplinary procedures to set appropriate standards of conduct
from employees and delineate areas of unsatisfactory activity
• Aim of employers and managers is to control:
– Personal behaviour
– General work conduct
– Discrimination
– Job performance
– Health and Safety
– Absence
– Timekeeping
Disciplinary rules and procedures
• Employment Act 2002 – employers to have formal procedures in
place/ right to be accompanied
• Procedures need to be seen as fair, as Labour Market Trends (2002)
report that dismissal and discipline are the 4th most common cause
of strikes
• ACAS advisory handbook assists in the devising of rules such as
– Timekeeping
– Absence
– Health and Safety
– Use of company facilities
– Discrimination, bulling and harassment
ACAS Discipline Guidelines
Drawing up rules
• Increase in formal processes to manage conflicts that arise in the
workplace
• Need to be based on a thorough knowledge of the organisation, its
activities, the characteristics associated with the production process
and the workforce
• The importance of discussion and consultation during this process
• In order to be fully effective, both disciplinary rules and
procedures need to be accepted as reasonable by those who are to
be covered by them and by those who operate them
Nature and Content
• Need to be consistency in handling disciplinary issues
• Procedures should provide positive reinforcement of good
behaviour
• Coverage should take 3 aspects into consideration
– The level at which the procedures operate
– Should not discriminate between different types of worker
– The subject matter should differentiate between procedures on
sensitive issues
Handling disciplinary matters
• Counselling and informal action – quick resolution/ cases of
sensitivity
• Conducting preliminary investigations – full investigation, clarity of
allegations
• Preparing for disciplinary hearings/interviews – aim is to improve an
employees conduct and/ or performance
• Conducting a disciplinary hearing or interview – hearing both sides
of the story
• Selecting an appropriate penalty – treat cases on their merits, with all
relevant circumstances taken into account
More critical accounts…
• Grievance and disciplinary procedures are less about resolving
disputes, than about maintaining management control (Williams,
2020: ch. 10)
• They are not impartial/ for the benefit of all parties – they are
managerial tools to sanction workers
• Provides employers with a defence in cases of litigation by current
or former employees (Klass, 2010)
• Grievance procedures are rarely seen by workers as being handled
satisfactorily (Abbott, 2007)
• Managers frequently fail to follow their own procedures and
assume guilt before hearings (Rollinson et al., 1997)
• These are often punitive, rather than corrective
Employment Tribunals I
• From the 1960s so that workers could pursue redress for
breaches of their legal employment rights
• Rising levels of conflict due to unfair dismissals, sex/ race/
disability discrimination, non-payment of wages, failure to pay
the national minimum wage
• Most common claim is unfair dismissal, but workers very rarely
are re-employed, they receive financial compensation
• Substantial rise in the number of claims from 41, 000 in 1980
to almost 240, 000 in 2009-10 (Williams, 2014: ch. 10)
Employment Tribunals
• Employment tribunals (ETs) are specialist arrangements due to
disputes between workers and employers
• Independent quasi-judicial bodies with a legally qualified chair and 2
lay representatives
• They adjudicate on claims made by workers against their current or
former employers
• Successive UK governments – Conservative, Labour and the recent
coalition – have tried to reform ETs to reduce claims
‘Reforming’ the tribunal system – I
• Employers bodies and business lobbyists claim that this is a heavy
burden on employers – costs, legal teams, management time and
resources (Shackleton, 2002)
• But ETs must have legal standards, rules and consistency in their
decisions (MacMillan, 1999)
• Pollert’s research into ‘vulnerable workers’ (2005, 2009) – those with
employment problems do not know their rights and do not take
action
• Only 1 in 20 with a genuine grievance submit an ET claim, and
many do not pursue this to an ET hearing (Renton, 2012)
• Successive governments have attempted to reform ETs
‘Reforming’ the tribunal system – II
• ‘New’ Labour tried to weed out ‘weak’ complaints, with incentives for
resolutions
• Since 2009 power to reduce compensation by up to 25% for not reasonably
following ACAS codes or practice
• Much government emphasis is on reducing costs and efficiency savings,
rather than justice (Dickens, 2012)
• In 2012 the coalition government – workers now have to be with an
employer for 2 years (rather than 1) before they can make a claim for unfair
dismissal
• In 2013 introduction of fees of up to £1, 200 to make a claim at an ET
hearing, which is refundable only if workers are successful
‘Reforming’ the tribunal system – III

All of these changes will reduce workers access to justice

Rise in tribunals due to equal pay, equality and diversity issues, and also high levels of
discontent at work (Tailby et al., 2011)

Rather than workers having too many rights, key issues of vulnerability, low pay,
insecurity. Many are unaware of rights or lack confidence to assert them (Pollert, 2009)

Also, fear consequences with future employers

Only 12-13% of claimants win cases at ETs, and 2/5ths of employers don’t pay
compensation (Morris, 2012)

TUC (2016) research – ET claims fell by 9,000 per month

Contested in court by Unison and fees were abolished
Informal vs Formal Resolution
S/N
Issue
1
Employee showing up late
2
Bullying
3
Sexual Harassment
4
Leaving office lights on
5
Mixing up customers orders
6
Not dressing properly
7
Stealing office supplies
8
Falling asleep at work
9
Spending too much time on breaks
10
Complaints about colleagues poor
hygiene
11
Not getting a promotion
Informal
Formal
Conclusion
• Assessed HRM/ management policies and practices covering
discipline and grievance
• Need to train line managers on their key role in the processes =
good and effective employee relations
• Examined the causes of grievance and discipline
• Power asymmetries inherent in the employment relationship – more
about legitimising and strengthening managerial power
• Recent changes to employment tribunals/ grievance cases and major
issues around justice
References
• Williams, S. (2020) Introducing Employment Relations.
Chapters 9 and 10.
• Blyton, P. and Turnbull, P. (2004) The Dynamics of
Employee Relations Chapter 10.
• www.acas.org.uk – A very useful website for understanding
how disputes at work can be settled.

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