Ordinance XXXVII

Staff Grievance Policy and Procedure

(Version effective from 2 July 2020)

This ordinance shall apply to all staff to whom paragraph 3 of Statute XXI refers[1]. Provisions for all other staff shall be found in the relevant Conditions of Service.     

1. Procedure

1.1 Loughborough University (the University) aims to provide a positive and supportive working environment for all of its employees and is therefore committed to seeking to resolve workplace issues raised by individual employees, quickly and efficiently, which may include mediation. This approach is consistent with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures and the associated ACAS guide.

1.2 The University will use its best endeavours to deal objectively and constructively with all grievances and employees using this procedure will be dealt with fairly and as quickly as possible. Employees should actively seek to resolve any issues in an informal manner in the first instance, for example by speaking to their line manager or by seeking advice from their HR Partner.

1.3 An employee may raise a grievance about action which the University has taken, or is contemplating taking, or has failed to take, in relation to them, or about the actions of work colleagues.

1.4 Human Resources (HR) should be advised, by the manager considering the grievance, of the complaint and will be available to provide advice and support throughout the process.

1.5 Throughout this document, reference to “days” means calendar days, but bank holidays and University closure days will not be counted.

1.6 Employees may use this procedure to seek resolution to matters of concern affecting their employment, typically in relation to one or more of the following:

1.6.1     Terms & conditions of employment

1.6.2     Health & safety

1.6.3     Work relations

1.6.4     Bullying & harassment

1.6.5     Working practices

1.6.6     Working environment

1.6.7     Organisational change

1.6.8     Discrimination

1.7 Where an employee raises a grievance during a disciplinary process the disciplinary process may be temporarily suspended in order to deal with the grievance. Where the grievance and disciplinary cases are related it may be appropriate to deal with both issues concurrently. Advice must always be sought from HR in such situations.

1.8 This procedure is not intended to cover:

1.8.1. Grievances involving several members of the staff which may be progressed through the Joint Negotiation & Consultation Committee or under the Collective Disputes Procedure

1.8.2. Other matters outside the authority of the University, e.g.:

  • Income Tax and National Insurance matters.
  • Rules of Pension Schemes.
  • Statutory Requirements.

1.9     Matters dealt with using the Grievance Procedure must be kept confidential by all parties involved within the context of that process.

1.10  At all stages of this procedure, due consideration will be given to making adjustments to enable members of staff to participate fully in meetings and hearings, particularly if they have a disability. This may include ensuring rooms are accessible or arranging for an interpreter to be present, for example.

2. Representation

2.1 Although an employee only has a right to be accompanied at the formal stages of the grievance procedure, it is recognised that the assistance of a trade union representative or colleague can be helpful in achieving a solution to an employee’s grievance. Consequently, representation should be allowed at all stages, including the informal stages.

2.2 Representation may comprise: a workplace trade union representative; an official employed by a trade union (e.g. regional officer) or a fellow University employee.

2.3 Legal representation is not permitted at any stage of the Grievance Procedure.

2.4 Employees who are interviewed in the course of an investigation into a formal grievance may be accompanied at the meeting and will receive a copy of the notes of their meeting.

3. Informal stage

3.1 In the first instance, an aggrieved employee should discuss the matter informally with their immediate supervisor or line manager, with the aim of achieving a mutually acceptable resolution.

3.2 Where the immediate supervisor, or line manager, is the subject of the grievance, then the employee should discuss the matter informally with the next level manager.

4. Formal stage

4.1 If the matter is not resolved and the employee wishes to raise a formal grievance, they must set out the details, including the remedy sought, in a written statement that should be sent to their Dean/Director who may nominate a senior manager within the School or Professional Service to hear the grievance.  [If the grievance refers to the actions of their Dean/Director, the statement should be sent to the Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development. In the case that a grievance refers to the Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development, the statement should be sent to the Chief Operating Officer.]

5. Mediation

5.1 On receipt of a formal grievance, the relevant HR Partner will explore with the complainant whether mediation is appropriate. Mediation will be facilitated by an independent person who has received formal mediation training and who has had no prior involvement with the issues covered by the grievance.

5.2 If both parties agree that mediation can go ahead, the grievance procedure will be halted whilst mediation takes place. If no mutually acceptable solution is reached through the mediation process, the procedure will be reconvened from the stage at which it was put on hold.

6. Grievance

6.1 If mediation is not appropriate or is not successful, an appropriate person will be appointed to hear the grievance. They will meet the employee to discuss the matter within 14 days of receipt of the written statement or conclusion of the mediation. The employee may be accompanied at this meeting by a work colleague, or a union representative and the manager will be accompanied by an HR representative. In some cases, it may be necessary to adjourn the meeting to allow for an investigation of the issues to take place, which may include hearing from witnesses. The person hearing the grievance is responsible for agreeing appropriate timescales with the employee and with keeping them informed of progress.

6.2 If the grievance is based on the actions or omissions of an individual employee of the University, that employee shall be provided with a copy of the grievance, suitably redacted if necessary and given the opportunity to respond as part of the investigation process.

6.3 Within 14 days of the meeting, or the conclusion of any resumed meeting, the person considering the grievance will send the employee a written statement of their decision and the reasons for it. The employee will be notified of their right to appeal, if they are not satisfied with the outcome.

6.4 In the instance that the aggrieved employee accepts  the outcome of the grievance, accused parties should be informed accordingly, and this should occur as promptly as possible.  

6.5 An employee who is not satisfied with the decision reached at the first formal stage will have 21 days, from the receipt of the written decision, to lodge an appeal, by submitting a written statement, including remedy sought and a list of witnesses (if any) to be called in support of the case, to the Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development, stating the grounds for the appeal. If an appeal is not received within this period, no further action will be taken on the grievance and all interested parties will be informed that the grievance procedure has been concluded.

7. Appeal stage

7.1 Upon receipt of the written request for an appeal hearing, the Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development will convene an appeal hearing to be heard by the next tier of manager, normally the Dean of School, or the Director of Professional Service. Where the Dean or Director of Professional Service has already been involved in the grievance, the appeal will normally be heard by the Deputy Vice Chancellor or the Chief Operating Officer, or their nominee. The person hearing the appeal will be accompanied by a HR representative, who has not previously been directly involved in the grievance.

7.2 The person hearing the appeal will convene an appeal hearing to take place as soon as possible. Colleagues from Human Resources will endeavour to update individuals of any time delays where necessary.

7.3 Where an appeal relates to an employee who is not covered by Statute XXI, the hearing will be chaired by next tier of management. An HR representative should be present to provide professional advice to the chair of the appeal and assist the proceedings, but the outcome of the hearing will be decided by the chair.

7.4 Where an appeal relates to an employee who is covered by Statute XXI the Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development will convene an appeal hearing to be heard by a panel comprising two senior managers within the University and a lay person who will normally be a lay member of a University Committee. Senior managers are defined as staff in a senior leadership position within a School or Professional Service and have had no prior involvement with the case.

7.5 The Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development or a delegated colleague from Human Resources will write to the employee and the responsible manager, requiring them to prepare and submit no later than 14 days before the appeal hearing, their respective Statements of Case, including copies of any relevant documents, details of any new evidence relevant to the case and a list of any witnesses they will to call in support of their respective cases.

7.6 When both statements have been received, the Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development or a delegated colleague from Human Resources shall send a copy of each Statement, to the employee and the management representative respectively and copies of both Statements, to the members of the Appeal Panel, no later than 10 days before the Appeal hearing. Any late submissions will be tabled at the hearing and it will be at the discretion of the chair of the Appeal Panel whether these should be considered at the hearing. The employee may be accompanied by a work colleague or a union representative at this meeting. The employee’s companion will be allowed to address the appeal hearing in order to:

  • Put the employee’s case
  • Sum up the employee’s case
  • Respond on the employee’s behalf where appropriate
  • Confer with the employee during the hearing

7.7 Question any witnesses appearing at the hearing. At the discretion of the Appeal Panel, the employee and the management representative may call witnesses. It is the responsibility of both the employee and management representative to arrange for their witnesses to attend the Appeal hearing and provide them with any necessary documentation in preparation for the Appeal hearing.

7.8 If the Appeal Panel feels that a witness has been called unnecessarily, it shall ask the relevant person to explain the significance of the witness. If the Appeal Panel, on receipt of this additional information feels that the witness is not required, the witness will not be permitted to attend.

7.9 The normal procedure to be followed at the grievance appeal hearing is as follows:

  • With mutual consent, the Appeal Hearing will be recorded via an electronic recorder, and copies of the hearing will be provided to the complainant via a secure USB stick.
  • The employee (or representative) presents their case and may call their witnesses, who may be questioned by the employee (or representative), the management representative and the person hearing the appeal.
  • The management representative shall reply and may call witnesses, who may be questioned, as above.
  • The employee (or representative) shall sum up their case
  • The management representative shall sum up management’s case
  • The parties shall withdraw while the person(s) hearing the appeal, reaches a decision. Where the hearing is heard by an Appeal Panel; an attempt to reach a unanimous decision will be made, where this is not possible, a majority opinion shall be conclusive. The Panel may adjourn its proceedings, if necessary, but it shall make every effort to conclude its proceedings on the same day.
  • The decision may be given orally to both parties, if practicable, but in any case will be conveyed in writing within 10 days of the conclusion appeal hearing. The written statement of the decision will include details of the reasons upon which it is based. This decision will be final.

8. Time limits

8.1 In exceptional circumstances, it may be necessary to extend the time limits set out in the above procedure. Wherever possible any extension to the time limits will be mutually agreed.

9. Vexatious or malicious grievances

9.1 An employee, who raises a grievance that is not upheld and is found to be vexatious or malicious, may face disciplinary action.

10. Former employees

10.1 Grievances may be raised by former employees after their employment has ended, provided that the written grievance is received by the Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development within 28 days of the date of termination of employment.

10.2 A modified procedure will apply in these circumstances which will involve an appropriate investigation to the grievance, following which a written response will be sent to the employee, normally within 28 days of receipt of the grievance letter. Any decision contained within the written response will be final.

11. Status quo

11.1 Where a grievance arises out of any proposal to change existing practices or conditions of service, the ‘status quo’ shall prevail until these procedures have been exhausted, unless it is necessary for legal, safety or urgent operational reasons for management to take action immediately. In such cases, the senior manager responsible, in consultation with the Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development, will advise the parties concerned and confirm in writing the overriding considerations involved. This is without prejudice to either party’s position.

12. Monitoring and Review

12.1 This procedure will be monitored and reviewed every two years by the Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development and any necessary changes will be negotiated with the Joint Negotiation & Consultation Committee.

[1] Staff where a substantial proportion of their duties involve the provision of teaching, learning or research.