Employee grievance is one perception regarding unfair treatment he received at his workplace. It is the outcome of improper attention given by the responsible authority to attend the complaints.
There can be many topics on which the differences may develop but are relating to the jobs and behaviour of colleagues. If we start counting the topics then there would be a big list.
1. Introduction to Employees Grievances 2. Meaning and Definitions of Employees Grievances 3. Concept 4.Essentials 5. Characteristics 6. Importance 7. Identification 8. Role 9. Causes 10. Effect
11. Forms 12. Types 13. Essential Prerequisites 14. Sources 15. Guidelines 16. Mechanism 17. Procedure 18. Steps 19. Model Grievance Procedure and Other Details.
Employee Grievances: Meaning, Definitions, Characteristics, Causes, Effects, Types, Benefits and Other Details
- Introduction to Employee Grievances
- Meaning and Definitions of Employees Grievances
- Concept of Employees Grievances
- Essentials of a Grievances in an Organisation
- Characteristics of Employees Grievances
- Importance of Employees Grievances
- Identification of Employees Grievances
- Role of Employees Grievances
- Causes of Employees Grievances
- Effects of Employees Grievances
- Forms of Employees Grievances
- Types of Employees Grievances
- Essential Prerequisites of Employees Grievances
- Sources of Employees Grievances
- Guidelines of Employees Grievances
- Mechanism of Employees Grievances
- Procedure of Employees Grievances
- Steps of Employees Grievances
- Model Grievance Procedure
- Employee Grievance Redressal Procedure
- Conditions for Effective Grievances Handling
- Grievance and Industrial Relations
- Benefits of Employees Grievances
- Grievance Management in India
Employee Grievances – Introduction
Human nature is very peculiar and it is difficult to predict about it. Regarding and individual person it is difficult to say that what he like and dislike. All these are affecting his behaviour. When human being interacts with others some ideas are exchanged. Some are liked and some are not. During interaction some sort of understanding or misunderstanding develops.
When there is good understanding then there is no problem and it is not the matter of worry at all. But when there is misunderstanding then it is matter of worry to deal with. It is applicable to us in our family, team, classroom, jobs, etc. All misunderstandings may belong to any area of activities are harmful. All these are to be treated properly. However, here we are mainly concerned with the misunderstanding relating to the employment.
When a person works in his job, he interacts with his colleagues at different levels. The differences are likely to take place definitely and these can be reduced to a very good extent but cannot be reduced. The differences in ideas, opinions, liking and disliking, working procedure, suggestions likely take place. These are creating misunderstandings and affect individual psychologically.
Here the concerned is with the differences relating to employment terms and conditions. When a person joins an organisation, he is having his certain expectations. After joining, he finds there are a lot of differences in his expectation and actual things provided. There may be mismatch between expectations of employees and actual facilities provided by the employers. This situation creates the differences in opinions, ideas, liking and disliking.
All these are relating to terms and conditions of the employment. It may include recruitment, selection, training facilities, placement, job features, salary, incentives, allowances, welfare and social security measures, promotion, transfers, discipline, etc. This situation creates confusions and affects psychology of the individuals. This situation is called conflicts of opinions and ideas.
It affects the individuals and creates the feelings of dissatisfaction and leads to frustration. In long run it affects mind, body, commitment level and performance in job. These are harmful for individual employees and organisation as well. It should be reported as early as possible. When a person reports the matter to the concerned person orally or in writing it becomes a complaint.
If the complaint is not attended timely and properly and continues further, it becomes grievance. The situation of a person under grievance is like smouldering. It is like that there is smoke without fire. This is very dangerous and must be handled immediately in the interest of all concerned.
Employee Grievances – Meaning and Definitions by Experts like M. Jucius, Pigors and Myers, Edwin Flippo, Dale Yoder, Keith Davis and Beach
Employee grievance is one perception regarding unfair treatment he received at his workplace. It is the outcome of improper attention given by the responsible authority to attend the complaints. There can be many topics on which the differences may develop but are relating to the jobs and behaviour of colleagues. If we start counting the topics then there would be a big list.
The grievances take place in every organisation more or less and there is no exception to it. It gives nothing but feeling of dissatisfaction and frustration and these affects in a big way the individual and organisation. It is to be handled properly and at top priority. The concept of grievance is derived from the word ‘Grieve’ that means to cause tension, grief or pain of mind of the individual and make him sorrowful or frustrated.
It is not easy to define the concept of grievance. Experts have attempted and identified the three stages and these are dissatisfaction, complaint and grievance. They have differentiated them also. The first stage is dissatisfaction, second is complaint and when complaint not attended it becomes grievance. The dissatisfaction feelings reported becomes complaint. It may be oral or written.
When complaints not solved repeatedly become grievances. It must be in writing only. The definitions of grievance have been modified time-to-time according to the situations. The concept of employees’ grievance has been viewed by many experts from different point of view. They have defined in their own style.
Some of the definitions given by the experts are following:
a. Chambers’ dictionary definition regarding “Grievance is the cause or source of grief, ground of complaint; condition felt to be oppressive or wrongful”.
b. According to M. Jucius, “Grievance is any discontent or dissatisfaction, whether expressed or not, whether valid or not, arising out of anything connected with the company that an employee thinks, believes, or even feels is unfair, unjust or inequitable”.
c. Pigors and Myers observed and remarked that the three terms — dissatisfaction, complaint and grievance — indicate clearly the nature of dissatisfaction.
d. Edwin Flippo defined grievance, “a complaint becomes a grievance when the employee feels that an injustice has been committed. If the supervisor ignores, the complaint and dissatisfaction grows within the employee; it usually assumes the status of grievance”.
e. The International Labour Organisation defines a grievance as – “A complaint of one or more workers in respect of wages, Allowances, conditions of work and interpretation of service stipulations, covering such areas as overtime, leave, transfer, promotion, seniority, job assignment and termination of service.”
f. Dale Yoder, for example, defines it as – “a written complaint filed by an employee and claiming unfair treatment”.
g. Keith Davis, on the other hand, defines it as – “any real or imagined feeling of personal injustice which an employee has concerning his employment relationship”.
h. Beach has defined a grievance as – “any dissatisfaction or feeling of injustice in connection with one’s employment situation that is brought to the notice of the management”.
Employee Grievances – Concept
In every organisation there are hundreds of employees working, so it might be difficult for the management to ensure the satisfaction of each and every employee. There are chances when employees feel that they are not being treated well or when they are not happy with the employment conditions.
The various types of complaints being confronted by the employees are relating to work conditions, supervisor’s behaviour, promotion policy, discharge, layoffs, wage and salary structure, distribution of fringe benefits etc. Such situations result in grievances on the part of the employees.
According to Dale Yoder (1970), “Grievance is a written complaint filed by an employee and claiming unfair treatment.”
Keith Davis (1977) has defined grievance as, “Any real or imagined feeling of personal injustice which an employee has concerning his employment relationship.”
The International Labour Organisation (1919) defines a grievance as, “Complaint of one or more workers with respect to wages and allowances, conditions of work and interpretation of service conditions covering such areas as over time, leave, transfer, promotion, seniority, job assignment and termination of service.”
Employee’s grievances reflect the state of industrial relations in any organisation. It is never in the interest of an organisation to have more and more of complaints and grievances from their employees. Even though the problem may be valid or irrational or appear to be small initially, it needs to be handled carefully otherwise it can later result into major labour disputes bringing in the labour union and other organisations.
Grievances if not handled properly in time may also lead to lower morale and productivity of the employees’. So it is always in the interest of the organisation to handle such grievances carefully so that the problem may not take a serious turn.
Employee Grievances – Essentials of a Grievance in an Organisation
The essentials of a grievance in an organisation are as under:
(i) The discontentment arises out of something connected with the organisation:
The sources of grievances lie within the company such as unfair treatment by the supervisor, violation of company rules, etc. Personal reasons such as illness in the family, conflict with a neighbour, etc., do not constitute a grievance. Such outside sources are beyond the control of the employer.
(ii) A grievance may be expressed or implied:
It is comparatively easier to identify expressed grievances. They are manifested in several ways, e.g., gossiping, active criticism, argumentation, increased labour turnover, carelessness in the use of tools, materials, poor workmanship, etc. Grievances are also implied by indifference to work, day dreaming, absenteeism, tardiness, etc.
It is not wise to recognise only expressed grievances and overlook the unexpressed ones. In fact, unexpressed or implied grievances are more dangerous than the grievances which are stated because it is not known when the implied grievance may explode. It requires a high order of skill for an executive to identify such grievances.
(iii) The discontent may be rational or irrational:
Rational grievance is a genuine one which must be removed by the management. On the other hand, there are grievances which are emotional in nature and are based on sentiments, distorted perception, lack of proper thinking, etc. These are totally irrational or psychological. It is difficult to handle such grievances.
Employee Grievances – 9 Main Characteristics of Grievances
A complaint becomes a grievance when this dissatisfaction, which is mostly related to work, is brought to the notice of the management. Dissatisfaction is anything that mentally disturbs an employee. It may or may not be discussed by employees with other colleagues. When it is brought to the notice of supervisor or union leaders in written or oral form becomes complaint.
When complaint is made in formal way and it has been repeatedly ignored or dismissed. Under this situation when employee gets no solution, he feels injustice over the issue of complaint. Now it can be said that anything which an employee thinks or feels is wrong, and that hurts the feelings of employee. The grievance is more formal in nature in comparison with complaint. It may be real or imaginary, valid or invalid.
It can be said that grievance is a formal complaint affecting one or more individuals at a time with respect to selection, training, wages, incentives and rewards, welfare facilities, working hours, condition of work environment, discipline, transfers, appraisal, promotion, etc., reported to the authorities.
On the analysis of the different definitions advocated by experts from different parts of the world, a summary has been prepared.
The following characteristics have been summarized:
(a) It is a state or feeling of dissatisfaction relating to employment conditions
(b) It is expressed clearly by the employees
(c) It is the result of ignorance of complaints by authority to which these were made.
(d) It disturbs the mind of employees and leads to dissatisfaction and frustration.
(e) It adversely affects body and mind of employees.
(f) It is harmful for all concerned parties in the company.
(g) It adversely affects health and performance of employees and organisation.
(h) Employee grievance is a feeling of unfair treatment from management
(i) If not redressed properly then may leads too many problems in die organisation.
Employee Grievances – Importance of Grievance Redressal System
Grievances are but natural in organizations. They benefit none. Hence there is a need for handling or redressing grievances.
i. Management can know the heartburns of employees through the grievance mechanism and take steps to address them.
ii. It gives assurance to employees that there is a mechanism to take care of their grievances and they can hope for remedy.
iii. This mechanism enables employees to expose their pent up feelings. This helps to improve the morale of the employees.
iv. Involvement of various levels of management make them know the kind of issues that’ concern workers and management.
v. It checks manager from taking arbitrary and biased action against workers, as they know that their actions would be challenged.
Employee Grievances – Identification: Through Exit Interview, Gripe Boxes, Opinion Surveys and Open-Door Policy
Good management redresses employee grievances as they arise, excellent management anticipates them and prevents them for arising. A manager can know about the simmerings even before they turn into actual grievances through several means such as – (a) exit interviews, (b) gripe boxes, (c) opinion surveys, and (d) open door policy.
(a) Exit Interview:
Employees usually quit organisations due to dissatisfaction or better prospects elsewhere. Exit interviews, if conducted carefully, can provide important information about employees’ grievances.
(b) Gripe Boxes:
These are boxes in which the employees can drop their anonymous complaints. They are different from the suggestion boxes in which employees drop their suggestions with an intention to receive rewards.
(c) Opinion Surveys:
Group meetings, periodical interviews with employees, collective bargaining sessions are some other means through which one can get information about employees’ dissatisfaction before it turns into a grievance.
(d) Open-Door Policy:
Some organisations extend a general invitation to their employees to informally drop in the designated manager’s room any time and talk over their grievances.
Employee Grievances – Role
Each participant in a grievance process has a defined role as well as specific obligations, responsibilities and privileges.
They are as follows:
1. The Employee:
An employee may use the grievance procedure without prejudice to his/her employment should (s)he feel there has been a violation of the specific terms of the collective agreement. However, prior to launching an individual or group grievance, the supervisor outside the bargaining unit must be provided an opportunity to be made aware of the issue and have an opportunity to resolve it. If the issue remains unresolved, the employee may bring the issue to the union to assess and to decide whether or not to pursue a grievance.
2. The Supervisor/Manager:
The Supervisor/Manager has a right to exercise his/her management rights subject to the provisions of the collective agreement. If an employee brings forward an alleged violation of the collective agreement, the supervisor/manager must meet with that employee to discuss the issue within the time frame specified in the collective agreement.
The supervisor/manager has a responsibility to fully investigate the issue and respond back to the employee on the findings and a decision. The supervisor/ manager is responsible for keeping and presenting accurate and up-to-date records of circumstances relating to the grievance and the employee’s work history and performance record.
3. The Union Representative:
The union representatives play a dual role within an organization. They are first an employee with role responsibilities that must be completed and subject to supervision and policies/procedures as any other employee. Secondly, the union representative has privileges, duties, and responsibilities as a representative of the union.
They serve as advisors to employees about the collective agreement and will support and represent them when there is a dispute related to the collective agreement. To accomplish this second role, union representatives are allowed time, with permission, to tend to problems that may arise with members, and to represent them during the grievance process.
i. Rights of the Union Representative:
A union representative has the right to observe and, if necessary, to protest the employer’s actions. The only legal avenue of protest is through the grievance procedure. If the union representative disagrees with the employer’s decision or action, the union representative must honour the decision or action and pursue the dispute through the grievance process.
ii. Representation Rights:
Union representation is at the employee’s discretion and is allowed at any meetings where disciplinary action is imposed.
Employee Grievances – 9 Major Causes: Working Conditions, Difference of Opinion, Doubts and Fears, Status of Trade Unions, Social Injustice and a Few Others
The causes of grievance may broadly be classified in the following categories:
Cause # 1. Working Conditions:
A large number of workers’ grievances are related with the unhealthy and bad working conditions such as non-availability of proper tools, equipment and machines to perform the job, bad physical conditions in the factory, frequent breakdown of machines, tight production standards, more rejection of goods, unjustified and continuous cuts in wages, disruption in the supply of material, lack of proper discipline, etc.
Cause # 2. Difference of Opinion:
The difference of opinion or thoughts on any particular point between workers and management also becomes a cause of grievance. Also, different interpretations of legal provisions lead to difference of thoughts.
Cause # 3. Doubts and Fears:
In some cases, the doubts and fears in the minds of workers regarding any injustice committed to them may also give rise to grievances.
Cause # 4. Management Policy and Practices:
Various policies of management may contribute to grievances such as harsh supervision, victimisation, discrimination, ignoring suggestions from subordinates, authoritarian management style, promotion, transfer, demotion, discharge, leave, overtime, holidays, lack of career planning and employee development plan, non- recognition of trade union, hostility towards a trade union, non-adherence to policies or procedures, etc.
Cause # 5. Status of Trade Unions:
The age and status of trade union is also a leading factor in grievance bearing. If a trade union is comparatively young and it has substantial strength, naturally it will be more militant and it will give air to the slightest grievances of the workers in a big way.
Cause # 6. Social Injustice:
Grievances may be due to social injustice. For instance, if a facility is provided in one department of the company, the employees of the other department where that facility is not provided may feel dissatisfied.
Cause # 7. Personal Maladjustment:
Personal maladjustment may also give rise to grievances, e.g., excessive self-esteem, impractical attitude towards life, over-ambition, etc.
Cause # 8. Violation:
Grievances may be caused due to the alleged violation of central and state laws, collective bargaining agreement, past practice, company rules, etc.
Cause # 9. Wages:
Grievances may arise due to wage inequalities, payment system, complicated compensation systems, problems relating to calculation of incentives and overtime, fines, increments, stagnation and recovery of dues.
Employee Grievances – 8 Adverse Effects of Grievances
Generally grievance has an adverse effect on workers, managers and the organisation.
The adverse effects include:
1. Lack of interest of work and commitment
2. Low productivity or ineffective productivity
3. Increase in wastage and cost.
4. Increase in absenteeism
5. Increase in employee turnover
6. Creating indiscipline and unrest environment
7. Increase in disciplinary cases
8. Increase in the level of supervision and control.
As soon as the grievances are noticed by the management they should be handled promptly. They need to be handled with care the way you handle glass.
Employee Grievances – Forms (With Methods of Tracing Grievances)
A grievance may be of the following forms:
1. Factual grievance – That is, when a legitimate need of the employee remains unfulfilled.
2. Disguised grievance – That is, a grievance arising out of reasons not known to even the grievant employee.
3. Imaginary grievance – That is, a grievance arising out of any misinformation, rumour, doubt and the like, for example, arising due to a false rumour that some employees have to be retrenched.
The main methods of tracing/identifying/discovering grievances are –
1. Exit interview
2. Grapevine or gossiping
4. Grapevine procedure
5. Unusual behaviour of the employees
6. Open door policy
7. Suggestion box
8. Opinion survey
9. Change in attitude of employees
In order to uncover the mystery surrounding grievances, any one or more than one of the aforementioned methods should be used, depending on the circumstances existing at a particular period of time.
Employee Grievances – 3 Types of Grievance: Individual Grievance, Group Grievance and Policy Grievance
There are different types of grievances- individual, group and policy. They differ in their intent as well as in their processes.
Type # 1. Individual Grievance:
An individual grievance is a complaint brought forward by a single employee in which a decision made affects that specific employee. For example, an employee who has applied for a vacancy within the organization may grieve the fact that she was unsuccessful at securing that position.
She may feel that she is the most qualified and therefore should be appointed, as per the collective agreement. A grievance is filed to contest the decision of the hiring department. The onus will be on the hiring department, with the assistance of Human Resources, to present the facts supporting decisions made in the hiring process.
Type # 2. Group Grievance:
A group grievance is a complaint brought forward which concerns more than one employee grieving the same alleged violation. In this case, the facts surrounding the alleged violation are the same in all cases. A group grievance involves the “effect of management action on two or more employees” under the same collective agreement. Any settlement of a group grievance would apply to all employees identified with the grievance.
Type # 3. Policy Grievance:
A policy grievance is a dispute involving a question of general application or interpretation of any article of the collective agreement rather than the direct management action involving a particular employee. For example, the process by which a position is posted may be viewed by the union as a violation of the collective agreement and therefore they wish to challenge it. These types of grievances are initiated at the final step of the grievance procedure and arise directly between the employer and the union.
Employee Grievances – Essential Prerequisites
Every organisation should have a systematic grievance procedure, in order to redress the grievances effectively. The unattended grievances many culminate, in the form of violent conflicts later on.
The grievances mechanism, should have the following essential pre-requisites:
a. Conformity with prevailing statutory provisions
b. Unambiguity in procedure, which should be known to all employees
c. Simple and short grievance handling procedure
d. Promptness in handling the grievance so that wrong doer is punished timely
e. Training to all supervisors and union representatives in all aspects of grievance handling, beforehand be given
f. Track of effectiveness and the functioning of mechanism, to be improved from time to time.
Employee Grievances – 3 Main Sources: Management Policies, Working Conditions and Personal Factors
The sources of grievances may be grouped under three heads, viz.:
(i) Management policies;
(ii) Working conditions;
(iii) Personal factors.
These are discussed as follows:
(i) Grievances resulting from Management Policies:
(a) Wage rates or scale of pay.
(d) Transfer-improper matching of the worker with the job.
(e) Seniority, promotion, and discharges.
(f) Lack of career planning and employee development plan.
(g) Lack of role clarity.
(h) Lack of regard for collective agreement.
(i) Hostility towards a labour union.
(j) Autocratic leadership style of supervisors.
(ii) Grievances Resulting from Working Conditions:
(b) Non-availability of proper tools, machines and equipment for doing the job.
(c) Tight production standards.
(d) Bad physical conditions of workplace.
(e) Poor relationship with the supervisor.
(f) Negative approach to discipline.
(iii) Grievances resulting from Personal Factors:
(a) Narrow attitude.
(c) Egoistic personality.
Employee Grievances – Guidelines
Despite the best efforts of management, there are chances when employees have grievances. So, it is very important for an organisation to handle the grievances carefully otherwise a small problem might result into major labour unrest. While handling the grievances, the management approach has to be positive and humane.
Management should give an employee an opportunity to put forward their case, look into the problem carefully, go down to the root cause of the problem and arrive at certain conclusions. In trivial issues involving two or more employees it is important for the management to look at it from everyone’s perspective and try to arrive at a balanced judgement.
It is always in the interest of the management to immediately look at the complaints and grievances of individual employees otherwise the labour union might take up the issue and give issues a different turn. All sensible organisations have a well drafted policy and procedure for handling the grievances of employees so that the management can learn about those, and try to take corrective actions.
The following guidelines should be followed by the management to deal effectively with the employees grievances:
1. Management should give the aggrieved party sufficient opportunity to put forward their point of view.
2. Attempts should be made to go down to the root of the problem.
3. Management must show their willingness and support to handle the employee’s grievances immediately.
4. Relevant facts and figures should always be collected by the management before arriving at any conclusion.
5. Once the management understands the reasons for the grievance, effort should be made by them to remove the causes.
6. If the grievances are found to be imaginary or fictitious, the employees should be counselled properly to get over them.
7. Decision taken by management to readdress the grievance must be communicated to the employee immediately.
8. Employee’s feedback must be encouraged by the management to find out their level of satisfaction with the management’s solution.
Employee Grievances – Mechanism of Grievances
Every employee has certain expectations, which he / she thinks, must be fulfilled by the organisation, where working when the organisation fails to do this. He / she develop a feeling of discontent or dissatisfaction. Whenever employee feels that something is unfair in the organisation, he / she is said to have a grievance.
Any discontent or dissatisfaction, whether expressed or not, whether valid or not, arising out of anything connected with the company which an employee thinks, believes or even feels to be unfair, in just or inequitable.
Grievances may be factual / imaginary or disguised. Factual grievances arise when legitimate needs of employers remain unfulfilled, e.g. emoluments increase has been agreed but not implemented. Imaginary- where employee’s dissatisfaction is not because of any valid reason but because of a wrong perception, wrong attitude or wrong information he / she has, while the disguised grievance is when it is known to employee.
When he / she is under pressure from family / friends / relatives / neighbours, he / she may reach the work spot with heavy heart. For example a new officer (or clerk) gets a new table and steel almirah, that may be an eye sore to other employees Grievances, if they are not identified and redressed, may adversely affect workers / supervisor / managers, and the organisation as a whole. Hence there is need, for some kind of mechanism and process for its redressal.
Thus, grievances affect not only the employees and managers but also the organisation, as a whole, hence the management has to identify and redress it. If the individual grievances are left ignored and unattended, there is danger that these grievances may result in collective disputes.
The following are some of the distinct advantages of having a grievances handling procedure:
a. Management can know employees feeling
b. Employee gets a chance to ventilate his / her feelings
c. Keeps a check on supervisor’s attitude and behaviour
d. Morale of the employees will be high.
Employee Grievances – Procedure: Open Door Policy and Step Ladder Policy
Grievance procedure is a formal communication between an employee and the management designed for the settlement of a grievance. The grievance procedures differ from organization to organization.
a. Open door policy
b. Step ladder policy
a. Open Door Policy:
Under this policy, the aggrieved employee is free to meet the top executives of the organization and get his grievances redressed. Such a policy works well only in small organizations. However, in bigger organizations, top management executives are usually busy with other concerned matters of the company. Moreover, it is believed that open door policy is suitable for executives; operational employees may feel shy to go to top management.
b. Step Ladder Policy:
Under this policy, the aggrieved employee has to follow a step by step procedure for getting his grievance redressed. In this procedure, whenever an employee is confronted with a grievance, he presents his problem to his immediate supervisor. If the employee is not satisfied with superior’s decision, then he discusses his grievance with the departmental head. The departmental head discusses the problem with joint grievance committees to find a solution.
However, if the committee also fails to redress the grievance, then it may be referred to chief executive. If the CEO also fails to redress the grievance, then such a grievance is referred to voluntary arbitration where the award of arbitrator is binding on both the parties.
Employee Grievances – 5 Steps in the Grievance Procedure
The steps involved in a grievance procedure may vary in number depending on the number of factors, but usually the following are the main steps that a grievance procedure should consist of –
1. Define the dissatisfaction correctly – Having received the grievance, the management should define the problem accurately and in correct perspective.
2. Collect relevant information and data – Having understood the grievance correctly, the management should gather facts, figures, opinions and all other relevant information regarding the grievance through all possible sources such as interviews, discussions and records kept in the organisation.
3. Analyse and resolve – Once the relevant information is available, it should be properly analysed, all possible solutions should be worked out, a comparative study should be made and the best solution should be selected.
4. Immediate redressal – Having identified the best solution, it should be promptly implemented. A delayed implementation of the decision may lose its desired impact and may not prove a deterrent.
5. Follow up – It is very essential to find out whether the desired impact of the decision taken and implemented could be obtained or not. If not, then a fresh exercise in the whole issue should be undertaken and remedial steps be taken.
Employee Grievances – Model Grievance Procedure
The Model Grievance Procedure suggested by the National Commission on Labour has provided for the successive time bound steps each leading to the next in case of lack of satisfaction.
At the outset an aggrieved worker shall approach the foreman and informs his grievance orally and seek the redressal of his grievance. If it is not redressed to his satisfaction he approaches the supervisor who has to give to the complaint of the worker within 48 hours. If the decision (answer) is not acceptable to the worker or if the superior does not give an answer, the worker can go to the next step.
At the third stage the worker can, either in person or accompanied by his departmental representative, approach the head of the department who has to give an answer before the expiry of three days. If the department head fails to do so or if the decision given by him is not acceptable to the worker then the worker can resort to the Grievance Committee which comprises of the representatives of employers and employees.
This Committee shall communicate its recommendations, the manager within seven days of the grievance reaching it. If there are unanimous decisions, these shall be implemented by the management. In case, unanimous decisions have not been arrived at, the views of the members of the Committee shall be recorded and all the relevant records shall be placed before the manager for decision.
The manager shall communicate his decision within three days. The worker has got a right to appeal against the manager’s decision. These appeals shall be decided within a week. If the aggrieved desires, he can take along with him a union official for discussion with the authority. In case a decision has not been arrived at, at this stage, the union and management may refer the grievance to voluntary arbitration within a week of receipt of the management’s decision by the worker.
In case the grievance arises on account of dismissal or discharge of the worker, he can resort to the second step. In the latter stage, he can make an appeal to the dismissing authority designated by the management within a week from the date of dismissal or discharge.
Employee Grievances – Redressal Procedure
When a worker is discontented with his employers, it is indicated that there is dissatisfaction /complaints or grievances.
According to Pigors and Myers – “Dissatisfaction may be defined as anything that disturbs an employee, whether or not he expresses his unrest in words.”
“A grievance is a complaint that has been ignored, over ridden or in the employee’s opinion otherwise dismissed without consideration.”
According to Michael Jucius – “A grievance can be any discontent/dissatisfaction arising out of anything connected with the Company that an employee thinks, believes or even feels is unfair, unjust or inequitable.”
The Industrial Disputes (Amendment) Act 1982, has provided for a reference of certain, disputes to Grievance Settlement Authority.
This act stipulates that each employer shall set up time bound grievance redressal procedure as follows:
(i) A dissatisfied worker shall first present his grievance verbally in person to the officer designated by the management.
(ii) If the worker is not satisfied, he then represents his grievance to the officer appointed by Management for handling grievances.
(iii) If still not settled, the matter goes to grievances committee. The Management shall implement unanimous decision by the Committee. If there is any difference in opinion, the entire matter will be placed before the top management for final decisions. The management communicates decision to worker.
(iv) Worker can still appeal to the Management for revisions.
(v) If no agreement is reached, union and management may refer the grievance to Voluntary Arbitration or Grievance Committee as the case may be. A grievance occurs only when the final decision of Top Management regarding the complaint is not acceptable to the aggrieved party/worker.
(vi) Worker’s representative has the right to access and pursue any document related with grievance except confidential documents.
(vii) If a worker is not satisfied even with the decision of arbitration, he has right to file an appeal to the next higher authority.
Employee Grievances – 17 Essential Conditions for Effective Grievances Handling
Grievance handling process is very important for maintaining good industrial relations, peace and industrial harmony. It contributes removing frustrations and in improvement of morale, attachment, commitment, performance, industrial relations and progress of employees and organisation.
Its impacts are multidimensional and cannot be ignored. Special care should be taken the grievances handling should take properly. If ignored then it is similar to ignorance of grievances.
To make it more effective the following essential conditions should be fulfilled:
(a) Proper interaction with the employees on regular basis.
(b) Timely collection of information relating to the grievances..
(c) Cross examination of information to ensure its accuracy for decision making.
(d) Trained managers must for grievance handling job.
(e) Rational decisions should be taken in grievance redressing.
(f) Decisions should be given within the specified time limit.
(g) Cross examine the statements of witness in process.
(h) Periodically the grievance decisions must be reviewed.
(i) Aggrieved employees should be given chance to explain his points.
(j) Proper respects of all employees must be given.
(k) The confidentiality of decision making should be maintained.
(l) The settlement should come according to the rules and policies,
(m) Timely implementation of decision for grievance handling should be there,
(n) Keep top management well informed regarding decisions,
(o) Proper decision to give relief to the aggrieved employees should be taken
(p) Take aggrieved employees into confidence by listening them carefully,
(q) Proper records are to be maintained.
Employee Grievances – Grievance and Industrial Relations
An environment of cordial and cooperation is facilitated if organisation is showing ‘Zero’ prevailing in the organisation. Individual grievances often become the subject matter of Collective Bargaining and Industrial Disputes. The establishment of works committees is a statutory requirement under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 which play a role in discussing and settling the grievance.
The main objective of the works committee was to settle day to day affairs of the unit which are of mutual interest to the management and workers such as working condition, welfare, working hours and productivity etc.
The appointment of Labour Welfare Officer in every industry where 500 or more employees are working is mandatory under the provisions of factories Act, 1948 plays a position role in grievance redressal. But the Factories Act, 1948 has a limited scope in terms of welfare, working conditions and safety etc.
The Code of Discipline, 1958, which was voluntary, suggested a grievance procedure. This was part of the strategy to promote social relations between employers and employees. The National Commission on Labour also made a similar suggestions and suggested a model grievance procedure.
In the absence of an accepted grievance procedure, the culture of the unit may be utilized as well as either the Factories Act, 1948 or Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 or both depending on situations. One of the major problem in Indian Industrial Relations in the lack of an appreciation of the distinct boundaries between die areas of grievance procedure, collective bargaining, and worker’s participation in management.
In short, grievance procedure is concerned with the individual and his peculiar problems. Where the roles of union is to aid and protect the individual worker in terms of his interest and problems workers’ rights particularly with regard to grievance are protected through the intervention of the union at each step. Due to multiplicity of unions, political affiliation of unions and involvement of outside leadership, the grievance processing and settlement became complicated.
Employee Grievances – Benefits from the Well-Defined Grievance System
The benefits from the well-defined grievance system include:
i. It helps in preventing grievances by encouraging management to probe underlying problems and to correct them. The management catches and solves a problem before it becomes a grievance.
ii. It acts as a check upon an arbitrary and capricious management action.
iii. It provides employees a formalised means of emotional release for their dissatisfactions.
iv. It helps in Establishing and maintaining a work culture or way of life.
v. It brings human problems into the open so that management can learn about them and try corrective action.
In today’s environment, it is widely accepted that the employees should be able to express their dissatisfaction, whether it be a minor irritation or a serious problem. The grievance procedure is one of the means available to them for expressing their dissatisfaction. Grievance may occur for a variety of reasons – management policy, working condition, etc.
A well-established grievance handling procedure would help the employees know where to appeal if they have a grievance and at the same time, check an arbitrary management decision. At the time of grievance, managers must acknowledge dissatisfaction and follow up a decision that they have taken up earlier.
Employee Grievances – Grievance Management in Indian Industries: 3 Legislations – Industrial Employment Act, 1946, Factories Act, 1948 and Industrial Disputes Act, 1947
At present, these are 3 legislations dealing with grievances of employees working in industries.
(i) Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946
(ii) Factories Act, 1948
(iii) Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (amended in 1965)
(i) Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act 1946:
It requires that every establishment employing 100 or more workers should frame standing orders with the provision, for redressal of grievances of workers against unfair treatment and wrongful action by the employer or his / her agents.
(ii) Factories Act 1948:
It provides for the appointment of a welfare officer in every factory ordinarily employing 500 or more workers. These welfare officers also look after complaints and grievances of workers.
(iii) Industrial Disputes Act 1947:
Individual disputes relating to discharge / dismissal or retrenchment can be taken up for relief under this Act, among employees and employers.
However, the existing labour legislation is not being implemented properly by employers. In India, Model Grievance Mechanism was adopted in 1958 by Indian Labour Conference. The grievance mechanisms are mostly voluntary in nature.
The causes of industrial disputes are many and varied. The major one relates to wages / union rivalry, political interference, unfair labour practices, multiplicity of labour laws, economic showdown and others.
The position of number of industrial disputes was as under during 2006 and 2007: