Avoiding Personal Grievance claims
One thing new and seasoned managers often fear is having a staff member raise a personal grievance against them. We asked Rainey Collins Law Associate Jaenine Badenhorst for some ideas to support management avoid personal grievances. The following advice was the response:
We would recommend that you do these key things to help avoid a personal grievance being raised against you/your business.
- The first key thing to do is to hire the right candidate in the first instance. (Yes, we know that isn’t always easy)! You want to make sure you have a robust interview and reference checking system in place. You could also consider your existing team meeting the candidate to make sure there is a good personality fit. There is also the possibility of a work trial or probation period, depending on the circumstances.
2. Have a written employment agreement which clearly sets out the parties expectations (for instance about work hours, flexibility, responsibilities, reporting lines, raising problems, and so on). It is helpful for these matters to be discussed beforehand, so that everyone is on the same page. This helps to avoid confusion and misunderstandings. Employee manuals can also be very helpful to cover more detailed rules and guidelines (for example internet use, health and safety, bullying and harassment, etc.).
3. Keep accurate employee records and files. This should cover hours worked, leave taken, superannuation or other agreed deductions, discussion around various work conditions and so on. The employee file should also cover any issues with performance or misconduct (detailing fair processes followed, and outcomes reached).
4. Act in good faith towards each other (by being honest and approachable; as well as open and communicative). Being a good employer, and having a relationship with employees where they feel free to raise issues early on is the best way to resolve problems before they turn into formal grievances. Regular catch-ups (like weekly or monthly meetings) is a good way of checking in with employees, and letting them know if there are any issues with their conduct or performance.
5. Knowing your obligations around the law and the contract you have with your employee is also very important. This way you are less likely to cause issues which will turn into grievances. If you are unsure of your obligations, you should seek professional advice.
Thanks Jaenine, we hope that helps managers of services who might be struggling with this issue. Following due process and keeping accurate records will also support why you have made decisions and how. Even with the best processes in place, sometimes you cannot completing avoid a grievance but follow professional advice and you can certainly minimise risk of a claim against you or your organisation.
There will be further articles published here supplied by Rainey Collins Law in relation to supporting your employment processes.