A grievance is a complaint by an employee that something in the management’s behavior has breached his or her employment rights and that he or she is unhappy about it. It may be real or it may be the result of a misconception or a misunderstanding. Managing grievance is, however, primarily a line manager’s responsibility. In this line managers require help, advice support and expertise from the employee relations procedures and training line managers to operate these procedures in a fair, reasonable and consist manager. Employee grievances are an outward expression of worker dissatisfaction which, if not resolved can result in unsatisfactory work behavior which has adverse consequences for the organization’s competitive position.
An important aspect of grievance machinery is the reassurance given to an individual employee by the mere fact that there is a mechanism available to him which will consider his grievance in a dispassionate and detached manner, an that his point of view will be heard and given due consideration. Built into this are safeguards against victimization, for instance, the grievance concerns a superior’s action.
Putting forward grievances and discussing them, even if they are not ultimately settled in the employee’s favor, gives a worker the satisfaction of having communicated with, and been heard by, the management. The supervisor is the first level in the grievance machinery. If there is no formal procedure and the firm announces an open door policy, then it is possible that the supervisor may get bypassed by the worker who would take his grievance directly to the higher levels of management. On the other hand, exclusive reliance on the supervisor can jeopardize the interest of the employee. The supervisor may exert his hierarchical superiority and not want to be challenged, or may not be resolved to the satisfaction of the employee. For instance, the supervisor may lack the necessary human relations skills, in terms of understanding worker needs and feeling, or he may lack the authority to take action to resolve the problem.
Involving the supervisor’s middle and senior line managers in the grievance process helps on two dimensions, firstly, the social barrier that exist between the various categories are, to some extent, broken by personal contract, and mutual understanding. Secondly, the problem solving approach integrates the various levels in the organization into a team to jointly overcome the problems which concerns not only the worker but the manager also.
The Model Grievance Procedure
The Model Grievance Procedure was formulated in pursuance to the Code of discipline adopted by the 16th Session of the Indian Labour Conference in 1958. Most of the grievance procedures now a day are built around the Model Grievance Procedure with certain changes to suit the size and special requirements of an enterprise.
The model Grievance Procedure provides for five successive time-bound steps. These are as under:
- 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 to him within 48 hours of the presentation of the complaint.
- If the worker is not satisfied with the decision of this officer or fails to receive an answer within the stipulated period, he shall in person or by his departmental representative, if required, present his grievance to the head of the department designated by the management for this purpose. And he will get the answer within 3 days of the presentation of his grievance.
- If the decision of the departmental head is unsatisfactory, the aggrieved worker may request the forwarding of his grievance to the Grievance Committee, which shall make its recommendations to the management within 7 days of the worker’s request. The final decision of the management shall be communicated to the worker within the stipulated period (3 days) by the Personnel Officer.
- A revision of his grievance can be done if the decision is not satisfactory. The management shall communicate its decision within a week.
- If no agreement is possible the union and the Management may refer the grievance to voluntary arbitration within a week from the date of receipt by the worker of the management’s decision.
In the above-mentioned procedure the following points should be noted:
- Calculating the various time intervals under the above clauses, holidays shall not be included.
- The Management shall provide the necessary clerical and other assistance for the smooth functioning of the grievance machinery.
- During the working time, the concerned person may go for enquiry with the Labor/personnel Officer, provided the he has taken permission from his supervisor. Hence he may not suffer any loss of payment.