Establishing a Grievance Procedure in Workplace

Every employee has certain expectations which he thinks must be fulfilled by the organization he is working for. When the organization fails to do this, he develops a feeling of discontent or dissatisfaction. When an employee feels that something is unfair in the organization, he is said to have a grievance.

In the Industrial Relations language, Grievance is defined as anything which irritates or tends to make work conditions unsatisfactory and thereby harbors a discontent or dissatisfaction arising anything connected with the company that an employee thinks, believes or even feels, unfair, unjust. In this sense many of the controversial issues in Industrial Organizations may be said to arise as a result of incept or ill-advised handling or neglect of grievances which individually may appear trivial but collectively may become explosive.

The following principles should be observed while laying down a grievance procedure in organizations:

  1. A grievance should be dealt with in the first instance at the lowest level; that is, an employee should raise his grievance with his immediate superior.
  2. It must be made clear to the employee what line of appeal is available. If he cannot get satisfaction from his immediate superior, he should know the next higher authority to which he can go.
  3. Since delay causes frustration and tempers may rise and rumors spread around the work, it is essential that grievances should be dealt with speedily.
  4. The grievance procedure should be set up with the participation of the employees and it should be applicable to all in the organisation. The policies and rules regarding grievances should be laid down after taking inputs from the employees and it should be uniformly applicable to all in the organisation. It should be agreed that there would be no recourse to the official machinery of conciliation unless the procedure has been carried out and there is still dissatisfaction, and moreover, there must be no direct action on either side, which might prejudice the case or raise tempers while the grievance is being investigated.

Open Door Policy

Under this policy, any employee can take his grievance to the chief boss and talk over the problem. As the name suggests, the management keeps its doors open for the employees to share their problems. It is said that this policy can remove the cause of grievance quickly. Though this policy appears to the attractive, it has some prerequisites.

The open door policy is workable only in small organizations. In big organizations, the top management does not have the time to attend to innumerable routine grievances daily that is the work of lower-level mangers.

Under this policy, the front-line supervisor who should be the first man to know about the grievances of his subordinates is bypassed. This provokes him in two ways. First, he thinks the man who skipped him is disrespectful. Secondly, he fears that he will incur his superior’s displeasure because of his failure to handle his subordinates will interpret this.

Step-Ladder Procedure

Establishing a Grievance Procedure

Under the step-ladder procedure, the employee with a grievance has to proceed step by step unless he is able to redress his grievance. According to the Model Grievance Procedure, an aggrieved employee shall first present his grievance verbally in person to the officer designated by the management for this purpose. An answer shall be given within 48 hours. If he is dissatisfied with the answer, the worker will present his grievance to the head of the department, who will give his answer within 3 days. If the worker is dissatisfied with the answer, he may ask that his grievance should be referred to the Grievance Committee, which shall make its recommendations within 7 days to the manger. The management must implement unanimous recommendations of this committee. A dissatisfied worker can apply to the management for a revision of its decision within on week’s time.