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Grievance

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A grievance is a sign of employee’s discontent with job and its nature. The employee has got certain aspirations and expectations which he thinks must be fulfilled by the organisation where he is working. When the organisation fails to satisfy the employee needs, he develops a feeling of discontent or dissatisfaction.

According to J.M. Jucius, “A grievance is 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, unjust or inequitable”.

Learn about:-

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1. Meaning of Grievance 2. Definitions of Grievance 3. Discovery 4. Features 5. Types

6. Rates 7. Handling a Grievance 8. Essentials of a Good Grievance Redressal System 9. Identification 10. Example 11. Features of the Grievance Redressal System

12. Model 13. Grievance Redressal Procedure in India 14. Need 15. Pre-Requisites 16. Purpose 17. Benefits 18. Effects.

Grievance: Meaning, Definitions, Examples, Procedure, Features, Model, Pre-Requisites, Benefits and Grievance Redressal System


Contents:

  1. Meaning of Grievance
  2. Definitions of Grievance
  3. Discovery of Grievances
  4. Features of Grievance
  5. Types of Grievances
  6. Grievance Rates
  7. Points to be Kept in Mind while Handling a Grievance
  8. Essentials of a Good Grievance Redressal System
  9. Identification of Grievances
  10. Example of Grievances
  11. Features of the Grievance Redressal System
  12. Model of Grievance Procedure
  13. Grievance Redressal Procedure in India
  14. Need for a Grievance Procedure
  15. Pre-Requisites of a Grievance Procedure
  16. Purpose of having a Grievance Redressal Procedure
  17. Benefits of Grievance Procedure
  18. Effects of Grievances

Grievance – Meaning

A grievance is a sign of employee’s discontent with job and its nature. The employee has got certain aspirations and expectations which he thinks must be fulfilled by the organisation where he is working. When the organisation fails to satisfy the employee needs, he develops a feeling of discontent or dissatisfaction.

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For instance, the employee expects proper implementation of the Central and State Government’s laws, collective agreements, company policies and management responsibilities. Any violation of these laws, agreements and policies cause dissatisfaction on his part. Thus, grievance is caused due to the difference between the employee expectation and management practice.

The concept ‘grievance’ has been defined in several ways by different authorities.

Some of the definitions are as follows:

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Jucius defines a grievance as “… any discontent or dissatisfaction, whether exposed 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, unjust or inequitable.”

The above definitions indicate that a grievance may be factual or imaginary or disguised and it is problem whether expressed or not, valid or not. When an employee presents a problem, the grievance redressing authority, has to analyse the problem, find out the root cause of the problem rather than viewing it from legal aspects and solve it based on humanitarian approach.

This approach of grievance redressal is known as clinical approach to grievance handling. Hence, a grievance may be viewed as complex psychological phenomenon calling for human rather than any procedural or legal action in its analysis and solution.


Grievance – Definitions: By J.M. Jucius and Edward Flippo

Let us consider some important definitions of ‘grievance’ given by some behavioural scientists. Dale S. Beach has defined grievance as “any dissatisfaction or feeling of injustice in connection with one’s employment situation that is brought to the notice of the management”.

According to J.M. Jucius, “A grievance is 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, unjust or inequitable”.

In the words of Edward Flippo, “It is a type of discontent which must always be expressed. A grievance is usually more formal in character than a complaint. It can be valid or ridiculous and must grow out of something connected with company operations or policy. It must involve an interpretation or application of the provisions of the labour contract”.

Dissatisfaction, Complaint and Grievance- It is rather difficult to define a grievance. Human resource professionals however, have attempted to distinguish between dissatisfaction, complaint, and grievance. Generally speaking, dissatisfaction is any state or feeling of dissatisfaction which is orally made known by one employee to another known as a complaint. A complaint becomes a grievance when this dissatisfaction, which is mostly related to work, is brought to the notice of the management.

Sometimes, this definition is modified to include the fact that a complaint should be in writing and not expressed verbally. Some organisations understand the word grievance in a broader sense; they insist that a complaint should be processed through normal grievance procedure channels.

Grievance is word which covers dissatisfaction or a feeling of injustice and which has one or more of the following characteristics:

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i. It may be unvoiced or expressly stated by an employee;

ii. It may be written or verbal;

iii. It may be valid and legitimate, untrue or completely false, or ridiculous; and

iv. It may arise out of something that is connected with the organisation in some way or the other.

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The model grievance procedure has provided the following definition of grievance:

“Complaints affecting one or more individual workers in respect of their wage payments, overtime, leave, transfer, promotions, seniority, work assignment and discharge would constitute grievance. Where the points at dispute are of general applicability or considerable magnitude, they will fall outside the scope of this procedure”.


Grievance Discovery of Grievances

The understanding of grievances is important in handling them. The smart manager anticipates and prevents from arising the grievances.

The following are the important tools which help in discovering the grievances:

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1. Exit Interview:

Employees generally quit the organisations due to dissatisfaction or better prospectors elsewhere. Exit interview, if conducted effectively, can provide vital information about employee’s grievances.

2. Gripe Boxes:

These are boxes in which the employees can drop their anonymous complaints in the organisations about the causes of dissatisfaction. It is different from the suggestion scheme system in which employees drop their named suggestions with an intention to receive rewards.

3. Opinion Surveys:

Group meetings, periodical interviews with employees, collective bargaining sessions are some other means through which one can get information about employee’s dissatisfaction before it turns into a grievance.

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4. Open Door Policy:

In this policy no employee is prevented from going to management directly with his grievance. It is useful in the case of small organisation but in a large organisation this would not be possible because the top management may not have the time to attend to each grievance at a personal level.

5. Grievance Procedure:

It is one of the most important means for employee to express their dissatisfaction. It also helps to management to keep a check on relevant diagnostic data on the state of the organisation’s health. Thus it is important to have a grievance procedure to process grievances.


Grievance – Features

On the basis of the above definitions, features of grievance can be listed as given below:

i. Grievance reflects dissatisfaction or discontent experienced by employees.

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ii. It is a sense of injustice to one’s job meted out by the employer.

iii. It may be expressed or implied.

iv. It may be verbal or written.

v. It may be real or imaginary.

vi. It may be valid and legitimate or may not be so.

vii. Grievance may arise out of something related to employee’s service contract.

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viii. Grievance, not addressed in time, gives rise to discontent, frustration, poor morale and low productivity.


Grievance Top 8 Types: Visible Grievances or Hidden Grievances, Real or Imaginary, Expressed or Implied, Oral or Written and a Few Other Types

It is an uphill task to give clear-cut boundaries of types of grievances. However on the basis of nature of the grievances different types of grievances can be possible.

Research study on grievances shows that there are different types of grievances and its types are the following:

Type # 1. Visible Grievances or Hidden Grievances:

When the grievances are clearly visible to the others is called visible grievances. But it is not necessary that all times these are visible then these are called hidden one. It is called hidden grievances.

Type # 2. Real or Imaginary:

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The grievances may be real or imaginary also. These may be called genuine or imaginary too. When a grievance is due to a valid reason and related to the terms of employment only. The management or concerned party responsible for redressing of grievance is called real, genuine or factual grievance. Second, imaginary grievance is that when it is there not for any valid reason. The management is not at fault. It is called imaginary only.

Type # 3. Expressed or Implied:

There may be expressed or implied grievances. When an employee felt the grievance and expressed or reports to the management in written or oral forms, is called express because it has been made clear. When it is not made clear but from the situation it can be inferred or judged that there is a grievance. That type of grievance is called implied grievance.

Type # 4. Oral or Written:

According to the way of expression, the grievances can be oral or written. When orally it is reported or expressed then it is called oral grievance. An employee makes a written complaint then it becomes written grievance. Entirely according to their expression the grievances are classified.

Type # 5. Disguised Grievances:

Sometime the grievances take place but the employees do not know the reasons of grievances. The causes of grievances are unknown. These are called disguised grievances. This type of grievances take place due to mental pressure or frustration due to other factors and not related to work.

Type # 6. Individual or Group Grievances:

The grievances may be related to individual employee or a group of employees. In group we may include team, department, etc. When an individual is affected then it is called individual grievance. When a group is affected due to the grievances and reported then it becomes a group grievance. Other factors for formation of types are not considered other than party affected.

Type # 7. Union Grievances:

The union presents the grievances to the management on behalf of member employees then it becomes union grievance. It is presented in the interest of everyone in the union and not for individual employee. When the employees felt that the terms of employment are violated then union takes the initiative in reporting of the grievances. The union presents the case for collective agreements in this case.

Type # 8. Policy Grievances:

When a grievance is related to policy of the company relating to terms of employment is called policy grievance. The terms of employment may include appointment, training, compensation, promotion and transfer, rewards and incentives, bonus, allowances, etc. When these are violated by the management and reported by employees’ union then it becomes a policy grievance.


Grievance – Rates

Generally grievance rate is the number of written grievances for one hundred employees in one year. A typical grievance rate is in between five to twenty however, well managed organisations with mature industrial relations have developed lower rates. Employees of all types and at all levels develop grievances. Effective administration tends to reduce grievances. Fair, open and prompt treatment of problem that arises tends to reduce the misunderstandings. Increased participation also in an effective way tends to reduce grievances.

The following guidelines are from constitution of the Grievance Committee:

1. In the case where the union is recognized the two representatives of the management, a union representative and a union departmental representative of the department in which the concerned employee works, shall be in the Grievance Committee.

2. In the case where the union is not recognized, or there is no union but a committee works the grievance shall be composed of two representatives of the management, the secretary or the vice president of the workers committee.

It is further suggested that the management’s representatives should be the departmental head plus the official who deal with the grievance at the first stage; or the personnel officer should act as an adviser. The size of Grievance Committee should be limited to a maximum of six members.


Grievance – Points to be Kept in Mind while Handling a Grievance

The following points are relevant to be kept in mind during handling a grievance:

1. Every grievance must be given due respect and considered important.

2. A grievance should not be postponed with hope that people will “see the light” themselves.

3. A grievance should be put in writing.

4. A relevant facts about a grievance should be gathered by management and their proper records should be maintained.

5. The employee should be given free time off to pursue his grievance.

6. Management should take a list of all solutions and later evaluate them one by one in term of their total effect on the organisation.

7. Decision once reached should be communicated to the employee and acted upon by the management.

8. Follow-up must be done by the management to determine whether action taken by it has favourably changed the employee’s attitude or not.


Grievance – Essentials of a Good Grievance Redressal System: 7 Key Points

A good grievance redressal system should accommodate the following essentials:

1. Timely Action – Management should ventilate the grievances as and when they arise. They should be nipped in the bud. For this purpose, supervisors should be trained in recognizing and handling the grievances promptly.

2. Acknowledgement of Grievance – Once the grievance is filed, management should register it and grievant should be assured that it would be attended to.

3. Identifying the Problem – The supervisor has to diagnose the problem.

4. Collecting Facts – Once the problem is figured out, the supervisor should collect all relevant facts and profile relating to the grievance.

5. Analyzing the Cause – Supervisor has to get to the root of the problem. It involves studying various aspects of grievance like employee’s past history, frequencies of occurrence, management practices, union practices etc. Thus, identification of the cause helps the management to take remedial actions.

6. Taking Decision – Various alternative courses of action are worked out. These are evaluated in view of their consequences on the aggrieved employee, the union and the management. Final decision suited to a given situation is arrived at.

7. Implementing the Decision – The decision taken should be communicated to the grievant and implemented by the authority.

Step – 1 – Aggrieved employee explains the grievance to the immediate supervisor. He may meet the officer personally or he may be accompanied by union representative. The supervisor takes suitable action. If the aggrieved employee is satisfied, the matter is over. Otherwise he may go to the next step.

Step – 2 – The aggrieved may meet the section head or the head of the department or the representative from HR department. Thus, the officer concerned gives his decision considering all relevant facts within a specified timeline.

Step – 3 – It the grievance is not redressed to the full satisfaction of the grievant, then the matter is referred to grievance committee represented by the management and the union. The committee members deliberate on the issue and arrive at the decision on consensus basis.

Step – 4 – If the decision awarded by the grievance committee is not acceptable to the grievant, the matter is referred to arbitration.

Step – 5 – This is the final step in grievance procedure. An arbitrator is appointed with the mutual consent of the management and union. Both the parties must agree that they are bound by the decision of the arbitrator.


Grievance – Identification of Grievances

Grievances should be redressed by adopting proactive approach rather than waiting for the grievances to be brought to the notice of management. A proactive approach for grievance redressal helps the management to take actions for modifying those factors that are responsible for the emergence of grievances while in reactive approach, a particular grievance gets redressed but its underlying causes continue to exist.

A grievance is often just a symptom of underlying problem. Unless this problem is overcome, redressal of a grievance may be a temporary solution. It is often said that ‘a good management redresses grievances as they arise, excellent management anticipates them and prevents them from arising’. For adopting proactive approach to grievance management, it is essential to identify the nature of grievances and the underlying factors.

The management can go through four methods for identifying grievances- exit interview, gripe box system, opinion surveys, arid open-door policy. Let us see how information relevant to grievances is generated through these methods.

1. Exit Interview:

An employee may leave the organization either because of his dissatisfaction with the organization or because of greener pasture somewhere else. Exist interview, if conducted properly, elicits important information about the various aspects of the organizational functioning relevant to employees.

Such information is more valuable than the information elicited by the existing employees as they may not be frank enough to express themselves fully. They may avoid many relevant information as they see their career linked to the organization and frank expression of their views may jeopardize their career. In an exit interview, there is no such inhibition.

2. Gripe Box System:

On the pattern of suggestion box system, the management can use gripe box system to collect information about grievances from the employees. If need be, the employees may be encouraged to drop anonymous complaints as they may develop a feeling that their identity for reporting complaints may invite victimization specially when the complaints relate to management or supervision styles and other personal matters.

This method is more appropriate in those organizations where there is lack of trust and understanding between employees and their supervisors.

3. Opinion Surveys:

Opinion surveys, conducted periodically on the employee-related issues, provide relevant information about the state of grievances among them. Such surveys may be in the form of morale survey, attitude survey, job satisfaction survey, and grievance survey, or a more comprehensive survey including all the above aspects.

These surveys encourage the employees to express their views more openly as these are conducted by persons who are not the supervisors of the employees. Further, the employees’ identity is not disclosed. Alternatives to formal surveys may be group meetings, periodical interviews, collective bargaining sessions, and informal get-together through which the information about the current state of grievances may be collected.

4. Open-Door Policy:

Open-door policy implies that the employees are invited to discuss their problems freely and frankly at any time, or drop their complaints to the relevant managers’ rooms at any time. The basic objective of an open-door policy is to encourage upward communication. However, open-door policy works effectively when the managers develop positive approach and keep their doors open physically and psychologically. In large organizations, such open-door policy should be adopted at each successive management level.


Grievance – An Example of Grievance: Factual Grievance, Imaginary Grievance and Disguised Grievance

A grievance may take any one of the following forms:

Example # 1. Factual Grievance:

Generally, it arises in case when legitimate needs of employees remain unfulfilled. To illustrate though wage hike has been agreed yet not implemented citing various reasons. These grievances reflect the drawbacks in the implementation of the organisational policies.

Example # 2. Imaginary Grievance:

Sometimes an employee’s dissatisfaction has no valid reason instead it is due to wrong perception, wrong attitude or wrong information received by him. In these circumstances, it may create an imaginary grievance. Though management is not at fault in such instances, still it has to clear the ‘fog’ immediately.

Test should grow dense and may breed bitterness, as a result, grievances can have far-reaching consequences on the organisation and the reason is employees are likely to develop an altogether negative attitude towards the organisation, such an attitude decreases their effectiveness and involvement in various task.

Example # 3. Disguised Grievance:

In some cases, an employee may have dissatisfaction for unknown reasons. Even in general, organisations consider the basic requirements of their employees. Psychological needs of the employees such as need for recognition, affection, power, achievement, etc., are normally unattended and ignored.

To illustrate, an employee making complaint very strongly against the working conditions in the office may in turn be seeking some recognition and appreciation from his or her colleagues. Hence, disguised grievances, if remain, unattended or ignored, should also be considered since they do have far-reaching consequences.


Grievance – Features of the Grievance Redressal System

Just as the disciplinary procedure is used where the organizations has cause to complain about the behaviour of an employee, so also where an employee has cause to complain’ about the organization, he requires a parallel mechanism. This helps to prevent minor disagreements sparking off major conflicts, and can also improve employee retention.

A systematic grievance redressal procedure must have the following features:

1. It should be simple, fair and easy to understand.

2. It should be in writing.

3. It should specify to whom employees may take a grievance in the first instance (normally their immediate boss), and that they have the right to be accompanied by a colleague or a trade union representative.

4. It should encourage employees to put forth their grievances.

5. It should state where, in the event of the grievance remaining unresolved, an employee should then address his complaint.

6. It should specify time limits within which the aggrieved employee can expect to be notified of the outcome of his complaint.

7. It should have regular meetings of the grievance committee; and a record of proceedings properly minuted should be sent to all the parties.

8. It should gain employee confidence.

9. It should promote healthy relations between employee and the company.

As in the case of disciplinary procedure, the spirit in which the implementation of this process is approached is extremely important; and equally important is the amount of time and effort which management is prepared to devote to handle grievances systematically and effectively.

The details of grievance procedure and the numbers of steps in it may vary from organization to organization depending on its size and the number of employees. The procedure may have as few as two steps or as many as ten also. The grievance procedure may be of an open-door type or of a step-ladder type.

In the open-door approach, grievances can be taken up with senior management directly, rather than through the stages. This is useful if an employee thinks that his superior is treating him unfairly, or has made a wrong decision, or if he feels that the company is making a mistake over new policy or practice.

The grievance process has at least three purposes and consequences. First, by settling minor problems at an early stage, it may prevent major problems from occurring in the future. Second, a through grievance analysis serves as a source of data to focus attention of the two parties on ambiguities in the contract for negotiation at a future date. Lastly, the grievance process is an effective channel for upward communication.

Several times management is guilty of errors in the processing of grievances.

Some common errors are:

(i) Stopping too soon in the search of facts

(ii) Expressing a management opinion before all the pertinent facts have been discovered

(iii) Failing to maintain proper records

(iv) Resorting to executive fiat instead of discussing the facts of employee grievance and attempting to change minds

(v) Communicating the decision to the grievant in an improper manner

(vi) Taking wrong or hasty decision, which the facts of the case do not justify.

It is possible to avoid these errors through doing proper follow-up that reveals when a mistake in handling has been made.

Success or failure of the grievance procedure can be evaluated by following the test questions suggested by Pigors and Myers.

According to them, a personnel administrator should focus his attention on the questions:

(1) Was the case handled in such a way that the parties directly involved were able to identify and agree upon, what was at stake?

(2) Was the incident closed with a sense of satisfactory adjustment by everyone immediately concerned with the original complaint?

(3) Was the case handled in a way that strengthened line authority, especially at the level immediately above that at which the dissatisfaction was first expressed?

(4) Did the solution result in a better mutual understanding and a better mutual adjustment between a supervisor and his subordinates?

(5) As a result of this case, was there any spread of understanding to other people in management and in the unions and other employees who were net directly involved in the original complaint?

(6) Did the solution contribute to the operational efficiency of the organization?

Thus, grievance procedure can serve as a safety valve and help to preserve the type of relationship between management and employees required for harmony and productivity.


Grievance – Model: 5 Successive Time-Bound Steps

India’ at present has only a voluntary grievance procedure called the Model Grievance Procedure formulated in pursuance to the Code of Discipline adopted by the 16th Session of the Indian Labor Conference in 1958. Most of the grievance procedures nowadays are built after the Model Grievance Procedure with certain changes to suit individual operations, size and special requirements of an enterprise.

The Model Grievance Procedure provides for five successive time-bound steps, each leading to the next in case the aggrieved worker prefers an appeal.

Level I:

An aggrieved worker shall first present his grievance verbally in person to-the officer designated by the management for this purpose. An answer shall be given within 48 hours of the presentation of complaint.

Level II:

If the worker is not satisfied with the decision of this officer or fails to receive an answer within the stipulated period, he shall, either in person or accompanied by his departmental representative, present his grievance to the head of the department designated by the management for the purpose of handling grievances. (For this purpose, a fixed time shall be specified during which, on any working day, aggrieved worker could meet the departmental head for presentation of grievances.) The departmental head shall give his answer within 3 days of the presentation of grievance.

Level III:

If the decision of the departmental head is unsatisfactory, the aggrieved worker may request for the forwarding of his grievance to the Grievance Committee which shall make its recommendations to the manager within 7 days of the worker’s request Unanimous recommendations of the Grievance Committee shall be implemented by the management.

In the event of difference of opinion among the members of the Grievance Committee, the views of the members, along with the relevant papers, shall be placed before the manager for final decision. In either case, the decision of the management shall be communicated to the workman concerned by the personnel officer within 3 days from the receipt of the Grievance Committee’s recommendations.

Level IV:

Should the decision from the management be not forthcoming within the stipulated period or should it be unsatisfactory, the worker shall have the right to appeal to management for a revision. While making this appeal, the worker, if he so desires, shall have the right to take a union official along with him to facilitate discussion with management for solving his grievance. Management shall communicate its decision within a week of the workmen’s revision/petition.

Level V:

If no agreement is still possible the union and the management may refer the grievance to voluntary arbitration within a week of the receipt by the worker of management’s decision.

In the case of any grievance arising out of discharge or dismissal of a workman, the above- mentioned procedure shall not apply. Instead; a discharged or dismissed workman shall have the right to appeal either to the dismissing authority or to a senior authority whom the management within a week from the date of dismissal or discharge shall specify.


Grievance – Grievance Redressal Procedure in India

At present, there are three legislations dealing with grievances of employees working in industries. The Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946, requires that every establishment employing 100 or more workers should frame standing orders. These should contain, among other things, a provision for redressal of grievances of workers against unfair treatment and wrongful actions by the employer or his agents.

The Factories Act, 1948, 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. They also look after proper implementation of the existing labour legislation. Besides, individual disputes relating to discharge, dismissal or retrenchment can be taken up for relief under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, amended in 1965.

However, the existing labour legislation is not being implemented properly by employers. There is lack of fairness on their part. Welfare officers have also not been keen on protecting the interests of workers in the organised sector. In certain cases, they are playing a double role. It is unfortunate that the public sector, which should set up an example for the private sector, has not been implementing labour laws properly.

In India, a Model Grievance Procedure was adopted by the Indian Labour Conference in its 16th session held in 1958. At present, Indian industries are adopting either the Model Grievance Procedure or procedures formulated by themselves with modifications in the Model Grievance Procedure. In other words, the grievance procedures are mostly voluntary in nature.

The Model Grievance Procedure suggested by the National Commission on Labour involves six successive time-bound steps each leading to the next, in case of dissatisfaction. The aggrieved worker in the first instance will approach the foreman and tell him of his grievance orally. The foreman has to redress his grievance and if the worker is not satisfied with this redressal, he can approach the supervisor.

The supervisor has to provide an answer within 48 hours. In the event of the supervisor not giving an answer or the answer not being acceptable to the worker, the worker goes to the next step. At this stage, the worker (either alone or accompanied by his departmental representative) approaches the Head of the Department who has to give an answer within three days.

If the Departmental Head fails to give an answer or if the worker is not satisfied with his answer, the worker may appeal to the Grievance Committee, consisting of the representatives of the employer and employees.

The recommendations of this Committee should be communicated to the Manager within seven days from the date of the grievance reaching it. Unanimous decisions, if any, of the committee shall be implemented by the management. If there is no unanimity, the views of the members of the Committee shall be placed before the manager for his decision. The manager has to take a decision and inform the worker within three days.

The worker can make an appeal against the manager’s decision and such an appeal has to be decided within a week. A union official may accompany the worker to the manager for discussion and if no decision is arrived at this stage, both the union and management may refer the grievance to voluntary arbitration within a week of the receipt of the management’s decision. The worker in actual practice may not resort to all the above-mentioned steps.

For example, if the grievance is because of his dismissal or discharge, he can resort to the second step directly and he can make an appeal against dismissal or discharge.


Grievance – Need for a Grievance Procedure 

Grievance procedure is necessary for any organisation due to the following reasons:

(i) Most grievances seriously disturb the employees. This may affect their morale, productivity and their willingness to cooperate with the organisation. If an explosive situation develops, this can be promptly attended to if a grievance handling procedure is already in existence.

(ii) It is not possible that all the complaints of the employees would be settled by first-time supervisors, for these supervisors may not have had a proper training for the purpose, and they may lack authority, Moreover, there may be personality conflicts and other causes as well.

(iii) It serves as a check on the arbitrary actions of the management because supervisors know that employees are likely to see to it that their protest does reach the higher management.

(iv) It serves as an outlet for employee gripes, discontent and frustrations. It acts like a pressure valve on a steam boiler. The employees are entitled to legislative, executive and judicial protection and they get this protection from the grievance redressal procedure, which also acts as a means of upward communication.

The top management becomes increasingly aware of employee problems, expectations and frustrations. It becomes sensitive to their needs, and cares for their well-being. This is why the management, while formulating plans that might affect the employees for example, plant expansion or modification, the installation of labour-saving devices, etc., should take into consideration the impact that such plans might have on the employees.

(v) The management has complete authority to operate the business as it sees fit – subject, of course, to its legal and moral obligations and the contracts it has entered into with its workers or their representative trade union. But if the trade union or the employees do not like the way the management functions, they can submit their grievance in accordance with the procedure laid down for that purpose.

A well-designed and a proper grievance procedure provides:

(i) A channel or avenue by which any aggrieved employee may present his grievance;

(ii) A procedure which ensures that there will be a systematic handling of every grievance;

(iii) A method by which an aggrieved employee can relieve his feelings of dissatisfaction with his job, working conditions, or with the management; and

(iv) A means of ensuring that there is some measure of promptness in the handling of the grievance.


Grievance – Pre-Requisites: Conformity with Prevailing Legislation, Clarity, Simplicity, Promptness, Training and Follow-Up

The efficiency of a grievance procedure depends upon the fulfillment of certain pre-requisites.

These are as follows:

(a) Conformity with Prevailing Legislation:

While designing the grievance procedure due consideration must be given to the existing statutory provisions. In other words, the existing grievance machinery as provided by law may be made use of.

(b) Clarity:

There should be clarity regarding each and every aspect of the grievance procedure. An aggrieved employee must be informed about the person to whom a representation can be made, the form of submission (written or oral), the time limit for the redressal of grievance etc. Similarly, the redressing authority should be very clear about what is expected from him, what measures he can take, the limits within which he should resort to an action etc.

(c) Simplicity:

The grievance procedure should be simple. Every employee must understand different stages of the procedure, the forms to be filled up, the witnesses required etc. If there are too many stages in the procedure, too many forms to be filled up, too much going around etc., the very purpose of the procedure is defeated. Instead of resorting to the formal procedure, an employee may ignore it.

(d) Promptness:

The promptness with which a grievance is processed adds further to the success of the grievance procedure. Since justice delayed is justice denied the procedure should aim at rapid disposal of the grievances.

(e) Training:

The success of the procedure also depends upon imparting training to the supervisors and union representative in handling grievances.

(f) Follow-Up:

The successful working of a grievance procedure depends upon a proper follow-up by the personnel department. The department should periodically review the procedure and introduce the essential structural changes making it more effective.


Grievance – Purpose of having a Grievance Redressal Procedure

Different organisations handle grievances differently. Small organisations generally do not follow an elaborate procedure. They fol­low an open door policy where they just let all the employees speak to the management directly about their grievances and complaints and the management tries to handle the complaint immediately and appro­priately.

But in big organisations which are employing thousands of employees, it is important for them to have a set procedure to handle grievances so that all the employees are treated at par as far as impart­ing justice is concerned.

An effective grievance redressal procedure ensures that:

1. A set procedure brings grievances into the open so that manage­ment can know them and can take necessary action to settle them.

2. All the employees know about whom they have to report to when­ever they have any grievance.

3. Everyone in the management should be fully aware about the set procedure so that nobody should be able to misuse their power.

4. It provides a check over the arbitrary use of authority by superi­ors and tries to keep a check on their decision making.

5. It ensures fair and equitableness treatment for all the employees, irrespective of their position in the organisation.

6. It minimises discontent and dissatisfaction amongst employees by ensuring a speedy redressal of the grievance.

7. It provides the employees an opportunity to express their fears, anxieties and dissatisfaction to the management which finally helps in improving their motivation and morale.

To conclude, we would like to quote Mitchell A. Armstrong (2012). Ac­cording to him a well-designed and properly structured grievance redressal procedure provides:

(a) A channel of avenue by which any aggrieved employee may present his grievance;

(b) A procedure which ensures that there will be a systematic handling of every grievance;

(c) A method by which an aggrieved employee can relieve his feelings of dissatisfaction with his job, working conditions, or with the manage­ment; and

(d) A means of ensuring that there is some measures of promptness in the handling of the grievance.


Grievance – Benefits of Grievance Procedure

The following are the benefits of an adequate grievance procedure:

1. It brings grievance into the open.

2. It encourage solution of problems before they take serious turn in nature.

3. It helps in preventing future problems.

4. It gives employee’s emotional release for their dissatisfaction.

5. It helps in establishing and maintaining a working relationship in group.

6. It provides a check and balance on arbitrary management action.

7. It helps in establishing and maintaining a work culture or way of life.


Grievance – 3 Major Effects: On Production, Employees and the Managers

Grievances may assume formidable form if they are not identified and redressed and may affect adversely the workers, managers and the organisation.

The effects are following:

Effect # 1. On Production:

Production may be affected as under:

(i) Increase in the cost pf production per unit.

(ii) Low quality of productivity.

(iii) Increase in the wastage of material, spoilage/leakage of machinery.

(iv) Low quality of production.

Effect # 2. On the Employees:

The Grievance if unaddressed tend to affect the employees in the following conditions:

(i) Reduction in the level of employee morale.

(ii) Reduction the level of commitment, sincerity and punctuality.

(iii) Increased in the number of accidents.

(iv) Increased rate of absenteeism and turnover.

Effect # 3. On the Managers:

Grievances when unaddressed affect the managers as under:

(i) Stain in the superior-subordinate relations.

(ii) Rise in indiscipline cases.

(iii) Rise in unrest and thereby machinery to maintain industrial peace.

(iv) Rise in the degree of supervision, control and follow-up.


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