Discipline and grievance

Procedural fairness in the workplace is essential if employers are to avoid falling foul of employment protection laws. Best practice requires that an employer should have a written procedure to deal with disciplinary and grievance issues, which should either be provided to each employee individually or be readily available to them, e.g. on the employer’s intranet. Written procedures will commonly be contained in the employee handbook.

The written procedure should be incorporated in such a way as not to be a part of the employment contract, so that it can more easily be changed from time to time. This can be done by making express provision for the employer to amend it.

If the procedure is incorporated in such a way that it does form part of the employment contract, the employee may sue the employer or seek to obtain an injunction or interdict for failure to follow it.

A grievance is a complaint, concern or problem that an employee raises with their employer.  In a grievance procedure, there will ordinarily be provisions for making several attempts to resolve a grievance. These will start with an informal approach and then lead to a requirement for the grievance to be put in writing and then to a right of appeal.

A failure to raise the grievance in writing does not prevent an employee bringing a subsequent Tribunal claim, based on the grievance, but they may recover less compensation if the failure to do so was unreasonable.