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6 surprising types of employees that raise grievances!

6 surprising types of employees that raise grievances!

6 surprising types of employees that raise grievances

Most employers will at some stage need to deal with a formal grievance lodged by an employee. A grievance is simply a complaint about any aspect of their work or colleagues. Grievances can be extremely time consuming and troublesome and are often the bane of the HR manager’s working day. The law requires that if a formal grievance is lodged by an employee then the employer must set up a formal meeting and allow the employee to be accompanied at that meeting by a trade union representative or colleague. The employer then produces a written finding and if the employee is not happy with the outcome, they have a right of appeal.

This means that the person dealing with the initial grievance should not be the most senior person in the organisation as by definition, any appeal should be to a higher authority. This can cause problems in smaller companies where there simply are not enough managers to deal with any investigation necessary, the grievance hearing itself and the appeal should the employee be dissatisfied with the initial findings.

We advise employers of all sizes and industry types on dealing with grievances and it is sensible to ensure that a note taker is present at the meeting who is not conducting the meeting itself so that a full record is available should the matter ever reach an employment tribunal.

In our experience, most grievances are dealt with without the matter being elevated to a formal claim in the employment tribunal. However, there are on occasions cases where employees lodge grievances which are extremely time consuming and involve matters which the employer may feel are completely irrelevant. In addition, employees will often lodge a grievance if they are being subjected to disciplinary proceedings in order to avoid those proceedings continuing. In other words, the employee may put a spoke in the wheel of the employer by lodging a grievance simply because the employer has had the audacity in the employee’s eyes to level allegations which lead to a formal investigation and the disciplinary process.

Most grievances contain at least an element of truth. The “wrong” may be very small and may be blown up out of all proportion but an individual will generally base a grievance around something that happened that they genuinely weren’t happy with.

There are perhaps 6 types of people who bring a grievance and at some stage, the employer will experience one or more of these but hopefully not all.

Who are the 6 surprising types of employees that raise grievances?

The Exaggerator

This employee enjoys moaning to their colleagues. They will exaggerate to their colleagues and gossip becomes gospel. The exaggerated incidents become folklore and the complainant does not want to back down when pursuing the grievance.

The Misconstrued Incident

This may simply be about perception. For example, an employee complains of harassment alleging that a colleague would simply scream at her when he was not happy with her performance. The manager says that he just spoke firmly but never raised his voice and certainly did not scream.  He may be ex-military so it is not difficult to see that his “firm” speaking could be intimidating but that is not the same as screaming.  This was just misconstrued by the complainant.

The Inarticulate Complainer

This employee knows that something is wrong as after all, their job is not as fulfilling as they hoped and there must be a reason for that. They cannot quite put their finger on what that is so they just include everything that has happened whether relevant or not and hope that the employer will be able to resolve their issues for them.

The Obsessive Grievance

This person may be someone who might once have had a legitimate grievance, but now they see everything through the prism of their own sense of injustice. For example if their manager does not say “good morning” in a friendly enough tone, that is another ground for the grievance.

The Vexatious Grievance

This occurs when the employee just will not let things go. The company may have dealt with their complaint in a reasonable way but the employee is never satisfied and keeps raising the same or related matters in a consecutive series of complaints.

The Conspiracy Theorist

Some employees, particularly those who have been in the organisation a little while, will blame their woes on a conspiracy if they do not get their way. They do not obtain the performance rating they think they deserve and they miss out on a bonus. They may perceive that their office is less spacious than that of a colleague or that they do not have a window to look out of. They begin to believe that there is a conspiracy against them and start to act in a way that gets in the way of their own performance. They become an irritant to managers such that managers decide that they cannot put up with the behaviour any longer and may start to target the individual.

We have dealt with all of these types of cases and have advised employers for many years. If you require advice on dealing with a grievance then please get in touch.

Speak to Paul Grindley on 0113 320 5000 or email, in confidence, to