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UCL Staff Grievance Policy and Procedure

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. This follows the ACAS Code of Practice Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures and good practice as laid down in the ACAS guide on discipline and grievances at work.

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 Head of Department or Director of Human Resources also includes anyone deputed by them. References to departments also relate to areas of support services, administrative divisions etc.

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 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.

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 representative1 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 panel 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 Mediation

4.4.1 UCL offers a mediation service, a fair and impartial method for the resolution of conflicts and disputes.

4.4.2 Mediation 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.

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 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 Head of Department (or the next management level if the line manager is the Head of Department).

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 Head of Department. Normally within five working days of gaining this information, the line manager/Head of Department 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 panel 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 in discussion with both parties.

Grievance Procedure

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
Panel established and 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) Complainant and respondent organise their own witnesses' statements. No less than 10 working days before the date of the hearing
HR invite witnesses to hearing, providing a copy of this procedure. 10 working days before the hearing
All written submission to panel 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 panel 5 working days before the date of the hearing
Hearing Normally within one month of being appointed
Panel 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 panel will comprise three members of trained2 staff, who are not known to the complainant or the respondent and who are not aware of the case in question. The panel will comprise one manager, one trade union representative3 and a senior member of staff who will Chair the proceedings. Where it is not possible to convene a panel with this composition a panel of three trained staff will be convened by the Director of HR. The membership of the panel will, wherever possible, reflect a sex, disability and ethnicity balance. The members of the panel will not be from the faculty/division of either party. Both parties will be notified of the proposed membership of the panel in advance of the hearing. Any objections to the panel make up should be raised immediately with the Director of Human Resources who will consider the matter and review panel membership if appropriate4.

6.4 A member of the Human Resources Division will act as secretary to the panel and will support the panel throughout, providing professional HR advice and making a note of the meetings and 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 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). HR Consultancy will notify any requested witnesses of the date/venue of the Hearing and provide a copy of this grievance policy and procedure. Each party is responsible for the provision of written statements by their witnesses in advance of the hearing, where not already done as part of an investigation. The Chair is entitled to query the purpose of any witness being called and the potential for new, relevant information that the witness can offer. In such circumstances, and following consultation with the relevant parties, the Chair will decide which witnesses will be called at the Hearing.

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 panel 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 panel 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 Chair will ensure equal treatment of the individuals concerned and that all parties have received copies of all relevant papers. The Chair will ensure that the panel considers all aspects of the grievance. The panel members 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 panel 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.

7.3 The order of the hearing will be as follows:

Decision

8.1 The complainant and respondent (and their companions) shall withdraw and the panel, with the professional HR advice of its secretary, 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 panel shall notify its decision in a report to the Director of Human Resources within five working days of the panel meeting. The report will include whether the grievance was upheld, the reasons for the decision and any proposals the panel 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 panel cannot be challenged. However the parties may raise factual inaccuracies of the Grievance Hearing notes with the chair of the panel.

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 in discussion with 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:

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 panel comprising five members of staff other than those involved at the grievance hearing and who have not previously been involved in the case. The panel will comprise two trade union representatives and three senior managers, one of whom will chair the proceedings. Where it is not possible to convene a panel with this composition a panel of five trained staff will be convened by the Director of HR in consultation with the relevant Dean or the Vice-Provost Operations. A member of the HR Consultancy Team will act as secretary to the panel.

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 Panel 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.

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


Footnotes :

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.

3The Trade Union representative(s) should not be from a Trade Union representing either party. The selection of the Trade Union representative(s) will be discussed between HR and the relevant Branch Secretary to consider who is available.

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

Approved by HRPC November 2009