Standard view Zoom in Zoom in more

Grievance Procedure

This Policy is only applicable for those staff employed in UCL Australia

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 and in accordance with good practice.

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.

1.4 Academic staff are also covered by the provisions laid out in Statute 18 of the Charter and Statutes. A grievance from an academic member of staff not resolved at the formal grievance stage (see section 6) may be referred in writing to the Provost with a copy to the Director of Human Resources and the Statute 18 procedure will apply.

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 Chief Executive 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. In circumstances where a grievance applies to more than one employee and where one of UCL's recognised trade unions is involved, it may be appropriate for the matter to be dealt with through a collective grievance raised by the union (with the consent of the staff) using this procedure.

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 referred to Whistleblowers Protection Act 1993 (SA): UCL Australia.

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 UCL Australia Data Protection Policy.

4.2 Representation

At every formal stage of this procedure an employee may be accompanied by a workplace representative who is a work colleague, local trade union representative1 or an official employed by a trade union.

4.2.1 The workplace representative 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 workplace representative 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 workplace representative should not be someone who may have a conflict of interest or who may prejudice the hearing. The employee should notify the Grievance Manager of his/ her chosen workplace representative prior to a meeting.

4.2.3 If the complainant is invited to a formal meeting on a date when his/her chosen workplace representative 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 Mediation

4.4.1 Mediation is a fair and impartial method for the resolution of conflicts and disputes which assists to clarify the issues involved in the case and explore options for resolution. The process is entirely voluntary and mediated disputes involve no obligation to accept decisions or proposed options. It can be especially beneficial in problems associated with working relationships. Mediation can be used at any stage of the grievance process; the grievance procedure will be suspended pending the outcome of the mediation and may be withdrawn if the mediation is successful. A local mediation service may be sourced where practical.

4.5 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 UCL Australia Disciplinary Policy and 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 policy and procedure, the grievance will normally be held first. 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 Chief Executive / Chief Financial Officer.

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 Chief Executive / Chief Financial Officer. Normally within five working days of gaining this information, the line manager or Chief Executive / Chief Financial Officer 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. The parties may consider mediation to aid resolution of the matter if informal attempts to address the situation have been unsuccessful.

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 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.

ProcessTimeframe
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 Wihtin 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 Grievance 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 Grievance Manager 5 working days before the date of the hearing
Hearing Normally within one month of being appointed
Grievance 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 grievance will be heard by a manager2 who is not directly involved in the grievance. Any objections to the selected manager should be raised immediately with the Director of Human Resources who will consider the matter and review if appropriate3.

6.4 A member of the Human Resources Division will act as secretary and will support the Grievance Manager throughout, providing professional HR advice - a note taker will be present at the meetings and will record the deliberation. 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 workplace representative 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 Grievance 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 Grievance 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 Grievance 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 Consideration may be given to the use of video conferencing, or other suitable technology, to hear the grievance at a distance.

7.2 The Grievance Manager will ensure equal treatment of the individuals concerned and that all parties have received copies of all relevant papers. The Grievance Manager will ensure that all aspects of the grievance are considered and may seek further clarification of the written submissions from whomsoever they feel appropriate and the hearing may be adjourned pending any further investigation.

7.3 The complainant and respondent shall attend throughout the hearing. The Grievance Manager shall be empowered to call any person it 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 paid overtime or given time off in lieu.

7.4 The order of the hearing will be as follows:

  • Introductions as appropriate
  • The complainant (or his/her workplace representative) 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 workplace representative) shall have the opportunity to ask questions of the complainant and any witnesses.
  • The Grievance 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 workplace representative).
  • The complainant (or her/his workplace representative) shall have the opportunity to ask questions of the respondent and any witnesses called.
  • The Grievance Manager shall have the opportunity to ask questions of the respondent and any witnesses.
  • The respondent (or his/her workplace representative) shall have the opportunity to sum up their cases followed by the complainant (or his/her workplace representative).
  • If considered necessary by the Grievance Manager, the meeting shall be adjourned to allow further investigation into the matters raised.
  • The Grievance 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 workplace representatives) shall withdraw and the Grievance Manager with professional HR 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 deliberations the Grievance Manager shall notify its decision in a report to the Director of Human Resources within five working days of the meeting. The report will include whether the grievance was upheld, the reasons for the decision and any proposals the Grievance Manager 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 Grievance Manager cannot be challenged. However the parties may raise factual inaccuracies of the Grievance Hearing notes with the Grievance 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

ProcessTimescale
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. Consideration may be given to the use of video conferencing, or other suitable technology, to hear the grievance at a distance. The complainant will be advised that s/he may be accompanied by a workplace representative (see 4.2).

9.4 The Appeal will be heard by a senior manager who has not been involved at the grievance hearing and who have not previously been involved in the case. A member of the HR Consultancy Team or designated individual will act as secretary during the grievance appeal.

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 stage is final.

9.7 Where a grievance relates to the Higher Education Industry-General Staff-Award 2010 or the National Employment Standards and has not been resolved through the grievance procedure, any party may refer the dispute to Fair Work Australia.

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.

10.2 This Procedure will only be amended following negotiations with UCL's recognised Trade Unions and will be reviewed 12 months following its implementation.

HR Policy and Planning
February 2010


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

2Staff participating as panel members will attend joint training on their roles.

3In cases involving a member of the Human Resources Division, the procedure will be overseen by the Vice Provost - Operations.