This policy outlines the informal and formal procedure for resolving a work related complaint.
A Word document version with all the text and appendices can be downloaded here.
Arrangements during Covid19 pandemic and beyond
As we transition out of lockdown, grievances, investigations and disciplinary cases can continue as usual.
Investigation meetings and hearings are currently being conducted on MS Teams, and may continue to do so for some time.
However, we are aware that staff continue to face challenging circumstances at the moment, perhaps juggling work and caring responsibilities; or working from home in a difficult set up; or dealing with additional physical or mental health issues.
Therefore, when handling informal and formal cases line managers are asked to continue to be thoughtful and supportive during this time and to apply the following guidelines:
1. To consider para. 4.4 of the Disciplinary Policy: “Informal action should be used wherever possible and appropriate to resolve conduct or behaviour before formal disciplinary action is considered.” Your HR Business Partner can advise on whether informal action is appropriate and how to undertake this.
2. To take into account any mitigating factors related to lockdown and/or working from home, which may have contributed to the alleged misconduct or which may impact upon the investigation or hearing.
3. To seek advice from the Employee Relations team on a range of adjustments and support available if required, to enable the employee to engage in the process remotely. For example, employees can be provided with the appropriate technology and training on it; or they can be provided with a private room on campus.
1.1. In any organisation members of staff will from time to time have concerns or complaints regarding their work, working relationships or the working environment. Most concerns are resolved informally through discussions within the department, division or faculty. If however an employee considers that their concerns have not been addressed adequately they may raise a formal grievance under the procedures outlined in this policy.
1.2. The policy aims to ensure that where problems are identified, they are dealt with promptly, fairly and consistently.
2.1. This policy applies to all current UCL employees based within the UK. Staff employed at overseas campuses should refer to the local country-specific policy.
2.2. If an employee raises a grievance prior to leaving UCL employment, an investigation, which may be a paper based review, will be conducted to the end of the stage started prior to the employee leaving UCL employment and a written response will be provided to the complainant.
2.3. 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 of this policy may be referred in writing to the Provost with a copy to the Director of Human Resources and the Statute 18 procedure will apply.
2.4. This policy also covers the investigation of formal complaints of unacceptable behaviour such as Bullying, Harassment or Victimisation as outlined in UCL's Prevention of Bullying, Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Policy.
2.5. Disclosures in the public interest commonly referred to as "whistleblowing" should be raised through UCL's Public Interest Disclosure policy.
2.6. In circumstances where a grievance applies to more than one employee and where one of UCL's recognised trade unions represents at least one of those employees, 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.
Complaints involving Students
2.7. Formal complaints by current employees involving allegations against a student should be referred in writing to the Student Mediator in accordance with the Disciplinary Code and Procedure in Respect of Students.
2.8. Students may wish to refer any concerns through UCL's Student Mediator who is charged with the responsibility for advising and assisting UCL students with the resolution of complaints, involving staff or other students or services of UCL and which the student has been unable to resolve through their academic department or faculty.
2.9. Where mediation is not successful or appropriate, students should be referred through UCL's Student Grievance Procedure. For matters relating to harassment or bullying students should be referred to the Policy on Harassment and Bullying (Students).
3.1. In this policy "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.
3.2. In this policy "employees" are people who work for UCL under a contract of employment.
3.3. Any reference to Head of Department or Director, Director of Employee Relations and Policy also includes anyone deputed by them. References to departments also relate to areas of Professional Services, etc.
4.1. Confidentiality: All procedures and documents relating to a grievance should be treated confidentially and information will only be shared with those who have a genuine need to receive it.
4.2. Mediation: UCL offers a mediation service, which is intended to be a fair and impartial method for the resolution of conflicts and disputes. Mediation assists to clarify the issues involved in the case and explore options for resolution. The process is voluntary and confidential, and neither party is under an obligation to accept 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.
4.3. Employees should, wherever possible, try and resolve complaints and concerns using an informal approach before making a formal complaint. Mediation should therefore be considered as a means of resolving differences at an early stage. Whilst there are many benefits to mediation, it is acknowledged that not all circumstances are appropriate for mediation. This may include, but may not be limited to, where a decision about right or wrong is needed, e.g. where there is possible criminal activity; an individual wants a discrimination or harassment case investigated; one party is particularly vulnerable; or the parties do not have the power to resolve an issue. If either party refuses to consider mediation this will be noted at any later formal stage and reasons given.
4.4. Time Limits: Grievances should be addressed promptly. Time limits within the procedure should be adhered to wherever possible. All references to working days are pro-rated for part-time employees.
4.5. Representation:An employee has the right to be accompanied by a companion who is a work colleague, trade union representative or an official employed by a trade union, at every formal stage of the procedure. 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 their chosen companion prior to a meeting.
4.6 Grievance and Disciplinary Action: Any concerns that an employee has regarding disciplinary action being taken against them should be raised in response to the disciplinary action (see UCL's Disciplinary Policy) and will normally be considered within that procedure.
4.7. Where a grievance has been raised prior to the date of an incident or an allegation that is to be investigated under the Disciplinary Policy the grievance will normally be held first. There may be exceptions to this if the disciplinary allegation is of a sufficiently serious nature to warrant dismissal or a risk around matters such as health and safety. 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. Two or more grievances raised which relate to each other may be dealt with together.
4.8. An employee who makes a complaint in good faith will not suffer any detriment even if the grievance is not substantiated. Where an employee raises a grievance that is frivolous or vexatious or any person involved gives deliberately misleading statements, they may be subject to disciplinary action.
Informal Resolution Stage
5.1. An employee is expected in the first instance to raise a matter of concern informally with their line manager. This should be raised within 3 months of any alleged incident. If the individual feels it would be inappropriate to raise the matter with their immediate manager as it is relates to their behaviour, they should raise the concern with the Head of Department2. Individuals who consider that they are experiencing harassment, bullying or victimisation should additionally refer to the UCL Prevention of Bullying, Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Policy. In some serious cases of harassment, bullying or victimisation it may be necessary to escalate to a formal hearing (see Appendix A) for investigation, and a change in line management and/or working location may be necessary to facilitate this.
5.2. The manager and the employee should make every effort to resolve the matter of concern at this stage. After an issue has been raised by the employee, the manager should advise the employee within five working days of the action they consider appropriate to address the matter. Any proposed informal actions will be confirmed in writing, including any deadlines for appeal by making a formal complaint (see Appendix A, 2.1).
5.3. In some circumstances it may be appropriate for the line manager to hold an individual case conference as an alternative means of early dispute resolution. The purpose of the conference will be to bring together the parties, the line manager, a representative from HR Advisory Services, and a workplace colleague or trade union representative to explore how the grievance may be resolved.
5.4. Both parties should consider mediation as a means to aid resolution if informal attempts to address the concern are unsuccessful and where it is appropriate to do so (see para 4.3). If one party is prepared to enter mediation and the other party does not, this will be noted at the Formal Grievance stage.(For more information about mediation and how to access it, please contact your HR consultant. Referrals are made to our external service provider via your HR consultant and their name and contact details can be accessed via the following link to the HR Staff Directory.)
Formal Grievance Stage
5.5. If an employee is not satisfied that their complaint has been resolved by informal resolution they may raise a formal grievance. The procedure for raising and hearing a formal grievance is outlined at Appendix A and is also shown in the flow-chart at Appendix B.
6.1. If the complainant is not satisfied with the outcome of the grievance hearing they have the right of appeal. The Appeals procedure can be found at Appendix C.
7. Monitoring and Review
7.1. UCL monitors formal grievances by the sex, ethnic origin, age and disability status of both complainants and respondents in order to generate data that will enable UCL to examine whether certain groups may be disadvantaged by any aspects of its employment policies or practices. Such data will be shared with UCL's recognised trade unions and reported to the Human Resources Policy Committee for its consideration.
7.2. This policy will be amended only following consultation with UCL's recognised trade unions.
Appendix A: Formal Grievance Procedure
Appendix B: Grievance Procedure Flowchart
Appendix C: Appeals Procedure
HR Employment Policy