I’ve been thinking about the Grievance Process this week; the ACAS official procedure for dealing with employment complaints. Getting the Grievance Procedure to work? Now that’s a real employment challenge. The irony is, of course, it’s pretty much unemployable.
A genuine attempt to resolve a problem with one or two colleagues usually gives the complainant a larger problem with management. Putting your hand up and saying “I have a problem” is often met with management asking “You have a problem with us? How do we know the problem isn’t you?”
And so it starts. You’re the one defending yourself.
It’s a complicated matter; with an unsatisfying outcome for almost everyone who goes through it. It’s office politics at its most basic. You play the game or they vote you out. So I’ve been thinking about what positives we can take from it. For an alleged problem solving process which gives us a bigger problem than we had in the first place, is there anything we can take comfort from?
Perhaps it’s this. Although I’ve never known a case where the company does side with the employee lodging the complaint – we have to strip it back to our initial expectations for lodging a grievance. Isn’t it to set boundaries? Isn’t it to make management aware that we’re sick to the back teeth of the situation we’re in? Even if the company defends itself - behind closed doors management won’t want the situation to repeat. They’re more than likely to be monitoring things in future. And that’s what you wanted, right?
We have to let go of the expectation that they’ll agree with us. Whilst they’ll never admit their company employs a difficult member of staff who enjoys making employees’ lives miserable, that’s not to say they’re completely ignorant of it. If you’re the one who flagged it up - you should be proud of it.
However, if you need management to publicly agree; if you need them to take charge, punish the person who bullied you and apologise on behalf of their firm then it’s unlikely to happen. It’s probably not going to happen if you stay, and it’s equally not going to happen if you claim breach of contract/constructive dismissal and pursue it all the way to the Employment Tribunal.
So you have to ask yourself what you really want in this situation. Do you want to make a complaint? On the other hand, do you want to change your firm and the way it operates? Perhaps you want to change firms and the way you operate?
These are just things to think about.
I’ve always held that the Grievance Procedure is useless. I’ve no expectations that ACAS will agree with me. Whilst they’ll never admit their organisation universally recommends a course of action which is more trouble than it’s worth, that’s not to say they’re completely ignorant of it either.
I just want to register my complaint.
- Bullied By The Boss
- Welcome to my blog. My pen name is Eva James. I'm an aspiring writer paying the bills working as a legal secretary. Relentlessly bullied by my former boss, I looked for another job but the recession hit. Feeling trapped, I recorded everything in this blog, which serves as a revealing insight into workplace bullying. WEEK 1 starts the story and, as the weeks progress, you'll note what starts as banter soon spirals out of control. Sadly, it's all true. Whilst along the way I've found alternative employment, my passion for blogging about workplace bullying remains. Trevor Griffiths, legendary theatre, TV and film writer said at the outset, "I like the writing a lot: smart, cool, placed. If you were prepared/able to take your prick of a boss on, you'd marmelise him."