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Grievance Procedure

This Policy is only applicable to UCL staff seconded to Nazarbayev University, Astana, Kazakhstan

1. Scope and Purpose

1.1 In any organisation members of staff will from time to time have concerns regarding their work, working relationships or the working environment. Mostly such concerns are resolved informally through discussions within the department, division or faculty. If however an employee considers that his or her concerns have not been addressed adequately s/he may raise a formal grievance under the following procedure.

1.2 The procedure aims to ensure that where problems are identified, they are dealt with promptly and consistently.

1.3 This procedure only applies to current employees. If an employee raises a grievance prior to leaving UCL employment, an investigation will be conducted to the end of the stage started as per the procedure and a written response will be provided to the complainant.

2. Definitions

2.1 In this procedure "complainant" refers to the employee with a grievance and "respondent" refers to the employee against whom the grievance has been raised. The term "parties" refers to the complainant and the respondent.

2.2 In this procedure "employees" are people who work for UCL under a contract of employment.

2.3 Any reference to the Head of the Centre or Director of the Language Centre or Director of Human Resources also includes anyone deputed by them.

3. Application and general principles

3.1 The following procedure applies to grievances by employees concerning their employment.

3.2 This policy will be applied without any distinction as to sex or gender, age, sexual orientation, marital or parental status or other family circumstance, race, ethnic or national origin, colour, creed, disability, political belief, membership of or activities as part of a trade union, or social or economic status.

3.3 Complaints regarding harassment or bullying should be raised under UCL's Policy on Harassment and Bullying at Work.

3.4 Disclosures in the public interest should be raised through UCL's Public Interest Disclosure policy.

3.5 If you have any queries about the operation of any UCL procedure or about which procedure applies in particular circumstances, please contact your departmental HR Consultancy Team contact.

4. General Principle

4.1 Confidentiality

This procedure will be followed in the strictest confidence throughout. Grievance records will be treated as confidential and kept in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Labour Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan (2007).

4.2 Representation

At every formal stage of this procedure an employee may be accompanied by a companion who is a work colleague, trade union representative 1 or an official employed by a trade union.

4.2.1 The companion is able to address the hearing, to put and sum up the employee's case, respond on behalf of the employee to any views expressed at the meeting and confer with the employee during the hearing. The companion does not however, have the right to answer questions on the employee's behalf, address the hearing if the employee does not wish it, or prevent the employer from explaining their case.

4.2.2 A request to be accompanied at a meeting must be reasonable, i.e. the companion should not be someone who may have a conflict of interest or who may prejudice the hearing. The employee should notify the Hearing Manager of his/ her chosen companion prior to a meeting.

4.2.3 If the complainant is invited to a formal meeting on a date when his/her chosen companion is not available, the complainant may request a postponement but must propose a suitable alternative date which is reasonable and which is within 5 working days of the original date.

4.3 Time Limits

4.3.1 The time limits within the procedure are designed to ensure that grievances are addressed promptly but may be amended in exceptional circumstances by agreement of both parties.

4.4 Grievance and Disciplinary Action

4.5.1 Any concerns that an employee has regarding disciplinary action being taken against him/her should be raised in response to the disciplinary action (see Disciplinary Procedure) and will normally be considered within that procedure.

4.5.2 Where a grievance has been raised prior to the date of an incident or allegation that is to be investigated under the Disciplinary Procedure, the grievance will normally be held first unless this will prejudice the completion of the disciplinary process within the statutory time limit. Other exceptions may be where the disciplinary allegation is of a sufficiently serious nature to warrant dismissal or a risk around matters such as health and safety.

4.5.3 Any grievance raised by an employee who is already subject to a disciplinary process (and which does not relate to it) will normally be heard on completion of the disciplinary procedure. Where two or more grievances are raised which relate to each other, they may be dealt with together.

4.5.4 An employee who raises a grievance in good faith will not suffer any detriment even if the grievance is not substantiated.

4.5.5 Where an employee raises a grievance that is frivolous or vexatious or any person involved gives deliberately misleading statements, s/he may be subject to disciplinary action.

5 Informal Grievance Stage

5.1 In the first instance, an employee should raise a matter of concern informally with his/her line manager. If the individual feels it would be inappropriate to raise the matter with his/her immediate manager as it is related to the behaviour of the immediate line manager, s/he must raise this with the Head of the Centre (or the next management level if the line manager is the   Head of the Centre).

5.2 Both parties should make every effort to resolve the problem at this stage because this will allow it to be settled promptly, informally and locally. The employee should explain the nature of concern to his/her line manager or the Head of the Centre. Normally within five working days of gaining this information, the line manager/ the Head of the Centre will consider appropriate action which may be required to address the matter. The employee will be orally notified of the outcome, with confirmation of any agreed actions in writing.

6 Formal Grievance Stage

6.1. If the matter cannot be resolved informally, the employee should raise the grievance formally in writing addressed to the Director of Human Resources. The grievance should explain the outstanding matter of concern focusing on the facts of the case. This should include why attempts to resolve it have proved unsuccessful, providing evidence where appropriate and outlining the desired outcome for the grievance. Dependent on the circumstances, it may be necessary for an investigation to be undertaken prior the Grievance Hearing being held. The Director of Human Resources will appoint a manager (Hearing Manager) to hear the grievance.

6.2. The grievance procedure should normally be conducted within the following timescales. In exceptional circumstances, it may be necessary to extend these time limits with agreement of both parties.

 

Process

Timeframe

Employee raises formal grievance in writing to Director of HR

As soon as possible and normally within 5 working days of informal grievance outcome, if unresolved

Written acknowledgement of grievance by HR Consultancy and a copy of this procedure provided to the complainant

Within 5 working days of receipt of formal grievance

Respondent notified in writing by HR of grievance and provided with a copy of the grievance and any supporting papers. Date set for response to any allegations (usually within five working days or within a period specified by the Director of Human Resources, depending on the nature of the complaint).

Within 5 working days of receipt of formal grievance

Arrangements made for grievance hearing. Complainant and respondent notified of hearing date

Within 10 working days of receipt of formal grievance

Complainant and respondent write to HR to request witnesses to be called at hearing (see 6.6)

No less than 10 working days before the date of the hearing

HR invite witnesses to hearing, providing a copy of this procedure and request written statements to be submitted to HR.

10 working days before the hearing

All written submission to Hearing Manager

No less than 5 working days before the hearing

All parties involved in the hearing to be provided copies of all written submissions received by the Hearing Manager

5 working days before the date of the hearing

Hearing

Normally within one month of being appointed

Hearing Manager decision to HR Director

Within 5 working days of the hearing

HR Director notifies complainant of outcome of grievance hearing in writing and informs him/her of right to appeal.

Within 5 working days of the hearing

6.3. The Hearing Manager conducting the hearing will have been trained 2. Both parties will be notified of the identity of the Hearing Manager in advance of the hearing. Any objections to him/her should be raised immediately with the Director of Human Resources who will consider the matter and review the appointment if appropriate 4.

6.4 The Head of the Centre will provide a secretary to the hearing. HR Consultancy will provide professional HR advice to the Grievance Hearing Manager. The notes will be typed as soon as possible after the hearing. The typed notes will always be made available to all parties in advance of an appeal hearing.

6.5 The parties will be reminded of the confidential nature of the proceedings and will be asked not to discuss the issue other than with their companion or witnesses (as specified in section 6.2).

6.6 The parties should submit names of witnesses they would like to call with brief reasons for each request, in writing to HR Consultancy within the appropriate timescales (see 6.2). The witnesses will be asked by HR Consultancy to provide written statements in advance of the hearing. Following consultation with the parties, the Hearing Manager will decide which witnesses will be called at the Hearing. HR Consultancy will invite any required witnesses, providing a copy of this grievance policy and procedure. If there are difficulties with the release of staff to attend the hearing as witnesses, HR Consultancy should be informed so they can assist with these arrangements.

6.7 All information submitted to the Hearing Manager prior to the hearing must be in writing, signed and dated and shall be provided to all parties involved in the hearing. Written information not provided to the Hearing Manager in advance of the hearing within the timescales specified (see 6.2) will not usually be admitted.

6.8 The Notice of the hearing shall include a copy of these rules.

7 Hearing

7.1 The Hearing Manager will ensure equal treatment of the individuals concerned and that all parties have received copies of all relevant papers. The Hearing Manager will consider all aspects of the grievance. S/he may seek further clarification of the written submissions from whomsoever they feel appropriate and the hearing may be adjourned pending any further investigation.

7.2 The complainant and respondent shall attend throughout the hearing. The Hearing Manager l shall be empowered to call any person s/he considers appropriate to clarify evidence. Witnesses who are required to attend meetings under this procedure at times other than their normal working hours will be given time off in lieu.

7.3 The order of the hearing will be as follows:

  • Introductions as appropriate
  • The complainant (or his/her companion) shall be invited to state the grievance and how s/he would like it resolved in the presence of the other party.
  • The respondent (or his/her companion) shall have the opportunity to ask questions of the complainant and any witnesses.
  • The Hearing Manager shall have the opportunity to ask questions of the complainant and any witnesses.
  • The respondent shall respond to the grievance in the presence of the complainant (and her/his companion).
  • The complainant (or her/his companion) shall have the opportunity to ask questions of the respondent and any witnesses called.
  • The Hearing Manager shall have the opportunity to ask questions of the respondent and any witnesses.
  •  The respondent (or his/her companion) shall have the opportunity to sum up their cases followed by the complainant (or his/her companion).
  • If considered necessary by the Hearing Manager, the meeting shall be adjourned to allow further investigation into the matters raised.
  • The Hearing Manager should advise the employee when s/he might reasonably expect a response within the timescales of this procedure.

8 Decision

8.1 The complainant and respondent (and their companions) shall withdraw and the Hearing Manager l, with the professional HR Consultancy advice, shall deliberate in private. A decision will be made on what proposed action, if any, needs to be taken. The secretary shall record the decision.

8.2 Upon completion of its deliberations the Hearing Manager l shall report his/her decision to the Director of Human Resources within five working days of the hearing meeting. The report will include whether the grievance was upheld, the reasons for the decision and any proposals the Hearing Manager l may deem appropriate for the redress of the grievance. The Director of Human Resources will then inform the parties and where appropriate forward the report to the relevant senior manager for action. The complainant will be informed of his/her right to appeal against the decision.

8.3 The deliberation of the Hearing Manager cannot be challenged. However the parties may raise factual inaccuracies of the Grievance Hearing notes with the Hearing Manager.

9 Appeal

9.1 Where an employee feels that his/her grievance has not been satisfactorily resolved through the grievance hearing, s/he may submit notice of appeal to the Director of Human Resources in writing within the appropriate timescale (see 9.2) stating the grounds of appeal.

9.2 The grievance appeal procedure should normally be conducted within the following timescales. In exceptional circumstances, it may be necessary to extend these time limits with agreement of both parties.

Appeal Procedure

Process

Timescale

Complainant raises appeal to Director of HR

Within 5 working days of receipt of grievance hearing outcome

Written acknowledgement of grievance appeal by HR

Within 5 working days of receipt of appeal letter

Grievance appeal hearing arrangements confirmed and notified to the complainant

Within 10 working days of receipt of appeal letter or as soon as reasonably practicable

HR Director notifies complainant of outcome of appeal hearing in writing

Within 5 working days of the appeal hearing

    

9.3 The complainant must be specific about the grounds of the appeal; these will effectively form the agenda for the Appeal Hearing and determine who shall be present at the appeal hearing. Appeals may be raised on any number of grounds including:

  • the procedure - a failure to follow procedure
  • the decision - the evidence did not support the conclusion reached
  • any proposed action - was inappropriate given the circumstances of the case
  • new evidence - which has genuinely come to light since the first hearing.

Arrangements will be made for appeals against grievance outcomes to be heard as soon as reasonably practicable The complainant will be notified as soon as possible of the time, date and place of the appeal hearing. The complainant will be advised that s/he may be accompanied by a companion (see 4.2).

9.4 The Appeal will be heard by a senior manager who has not previously been involved in the case. The Head of the Centre will provide a secretary to the hearing.

9.5 The result of the appeal will normally be notified to the complainant in writing by the Director of Human Resources.

9.6 The decision of the Appeal Manager is final.

10 Monitoring and Review

10.1 Formal grievances will be monitored by the sex, ethnic origin, age and disability status of both complainants and respondents in order to generate data (amongst others) that will enable UCL to examine whether certain groups may be disadvantaged by any aspects of its employment policies or practices. The results of monitoring will be shared with UCL's recognised Trade Unions and reported to the Human Resources Policy Committee for its consideration.

Footnotes:

1 A trade union representative, who is not an employed official, must have been certified by the union as being competent to accompany a worker.

2 Staff participating as Hearing Managers will attend joint training on their roles.

4 In cases involving a member of the Human Resources Division, the procedure will be overseen by the Vice Provost - Operations.


HR Policy and Planning
June 2011