Writing a grievance - how much to include?(9 Posts)
I am helping a friend to write a grievance about bullying in the workplace. I have gone through the detail with her, and have all the details - one main incident comprising about 6 elements, and then further incidents which show a pattern of previous bullying behaviour.
My question is, how much detail should I suggest to my friend to include? I have helped her to draft a grievance, and have used headings to try to organise the information - main incident, with each element in point format; previous incidents; impact of the bullying; and conclusion.
I have suggested she formats it at 11 font & 1.5 spacing for ease of reading, but it ends up being 6 pages long!
HR professionals - can I ask, would you lose interest by this stage? Is it better to include the detail, even if it is lengthy? I have tried to help my friend to stick to the main points, but there is necessarily the need to explain background & context.
I have advised her to stick to the facts, and avoid hyperbole. She has however included comment about how she felt as a result.
Also, timing. Is it better to wait a couple of days so that exact dates etc can be verified, or is it better to submit ASAP? Main incident happened 3 days ago. I would be grateful for any advice.
I forgot to add - do you think my friend should seek legal advice before submitting the grievance?
I'm pretty good at setting things out in what appears to be a chronological order (although I say it myself), and I have a lot of experience in dealing with complaints / legal issues, but I'm not an employment law expert. I would hate to let her down.
Sounds like you're focussing on all the right priorities, building structure to organise the facts, so the statement flows and creates an impactful picture.
I don't think 6 pages is too long (esp if 1.5 line spacing), provided every sentence 'earns its place' in the statement. Maybe consider if anything could be broken out into a "backup information" section e.g. Supporting data, emails etc.to keep the body of the statement crisp and factual.
I recommend your friend (briefly) includes how the bullying is impacting their physical and mental health, and productivity, HR definitely need to know the negative effects of bullying in the workplace. It is worth citing 1-2 key phrases from the company bullying policy, In the context of the incidents being described.
IME you only get one crack of the whip to make it impactful. Once investigation starts (as it should, for the amount of bullying in your friend's statement) then more detail will be required, but the greater the impact in this initial statement the more likely it is to attract early attention and get the right people 'on the case'.
An hour with a solicitor is useful, but if money is tight it might be worth seeing how the Grievance lands, how seriously it is taken, the speed of response etc. If it gets kicked into the long grass, or minimised, it's then worth getting a solicitor's take on it, or a call to a legal helpline if your friend has legal cover via home insurance for example.
(Based on experience, I'm not HR sorry). I hope your friend gets a positive result.
Personally I would make sure the main grievance focuses on the salient points including dates and times of incidents, but the main detail of the incidents is included as an annex in the form of a time line of events. That way the points won't get lost in the detail and it makes it easier at the grievance hearing to keep on track and bringing the grievance manager back to the issue at hand.
Witnesses need to also be named in the grievance and if they are happy to provide a statement to include you can do so as an annex, but don't worry too much as the grievance manager should interview anyone named as a witness.
I'm not a HTC professional but an experienced Senior union rep.
Also worth noting that ACAS say that bullying is not about the deliberate intention to cause distress by unwanted or intrusive behaviour, but the impact on the individual receiving the behaviour. So in other words it's not enough for the bully to say "I didn't mean to make Sarah feel upset or to bully her" if Sarah is saying that she feels upset or bullied.
And yes as daisychain says, the impact on the victim's mental health cannot be understated here.
CAB are very good, and there is good online advice via ACAS.
By the way, do be prepared for the employer to deny everything and act like you have dared to criticize a perfect regime, rather than treating is as useful information to help address an issue. Employers can be really immature bastards.
If they do deny or act like it's made up, be there for your friend and make sure she isn't swayed by their desired reality.
I say this because i gave helpful evidence based accounts and pointed the employer to where they could seek additional internal objective evidence (eg recordings of customer interactions where my bully had marked me down for not asking questions that were stated clearly or for not recording data that was clearly recorded in my name and date stamped on the database. The employer acted almost like i had dared to draw a picture of mohammed in a mosque..Utter denial of what was clearly happening.
You have to treat that as part of the game rather than as a 'genuine' response, and read it as 'ok, they know this is bad and are rattled, let's see what they do'.
My employer, in their rush to deny, made up things to get them off the hook, that i have evidence of that being a lie.. which you then use to show a lack of will to investigate properly..Which indicates unfairness in itself.
I hope her employer does receive it maturely and sensibly, and takes steps to resolve the issue professionally. You"be certainly increased the chances,!
I have just gone through one and am about to submit an appeal as the conclusion they reached was an absolute whitewash. I have to go to a hospital appointment now but I will come back to you later with what I have learned from my experience although the advice from the other posters has been superb in my case and has really helped me lots. I will be back a little later..
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