Catch22 reserves the right to amend this policy, following consultation, where appropriate.
Date of last review: April 2023
Date of next review: July 2024
Catch22 Multi Academy Trust is committed to supporting its people to foster good work relationships by promoting a culture of open communication and consultation.
From time to time there may be occasions when there are concerns raised about working relationships amongst colleagues and these matters need to be addressed. This policy provides employees with a framework in which they can raise individual grievances relating to their employment and to have them resolved fairly, promptly and at as local/low a level as possible.
Grievances are issues, problems or complaints employees raise with their employers that relate directly to their own work or workplace. Issues that may cause grievances include but are not limited to:
- Terms and conditions of employment
- Work relations
- Disputes between work colleagues
- New working practices
- Working environment
- Organisational change
- Health and safety
- Bullying and or harassment
In addressing grievance matters, Catch22 Multi Academy Trust will ensure compliance with the appropriate employment legislation; in particular, the law relating to unfair dismissal, dismissal and disciplinary action as set out in legislation and the relevant ACAS Code of Practice.
Catch22 Multi Academy Trust will not discriminate on any of the protected characteristics (age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership and pregnancy and maternity) in dealing with grievance cases.
When the grievance raised is in relation to concerns about risk, malpractice or is deemed to be in the public interest, then the Whistleblowing Policy and Procedure should be used instead of the Grievance Policy and Procedure.
What is the policy about?
This policy sets out both the informal and formal processes for addressing any grievances which employees feel they have encountered, with the aim of reaching a mutually satisfactory solution as quickly as possible.
The policy aims to ensure that:
- Lawful, non-discriminatory and effective arrangements exist for dealing with employee concerns and grievances;
- All employees are aware of their responsibilities regarding raising problems and concerns and will not suffer detriment for doing so, as long as the complaint is not malicious;
- Managers are aware of and supported in carrying out their responsibilities for resolving issues as soon as possible.
Who is the policy for?
This policy applies to all Catch22 Multi Academy Trust employees. If a sessional worker, contractor or a stakeholder of Catch22 Multi Academy Trust wishes to raise a concern, it should be done via the Catch22 Multi Academy Trust Complaints Policy and Procedure.
Managers should seek to resolve any difference of opinion in a responsible and constructive manner. Any manager who receives a grievance from an employee must investigate the facts thoroughly and every effort should be made and sufficient time given, to establish the facts. Records, documents or witnesses, which the employee lodging the grievance considers to be relevant, should not be unreasonably withheld or ignored.
Only genuine concerns should be raised by employees. Employees found to be making false complaints purely for malicious or vindictive reasons may be subject to disciplinary action. Any concern which is raised in an unreasonable manner or in bad faith could result in dismissal.
It is preferable for all concerned to seek to resolve any concern raised informally, at the lowest possible level, before formal proceedings are considered.
Formal proceedings should only be used as a last resort. It is expected that LinkUp representatives, Trade Union Representatives and managers will discuss issues and seek to resolve them without recourse to a formal procedure.
Scope of a Grievance Complaint
Grievances should be raised within three months of the incident or action giving rise to it unless exceptional circumstances apply. Any grievance raised outside of that time limit may not be considered.
Grievances can only be raised by a current employee of Catch22 Multi Academy Trust. Should the employee leave Catch22 Multi Academy Trust’s service at any time after a meeting has been arranged, the employee will remain entitled to receive a written reply from the relevant Line Manager in response to the grievance.
Comments made on an Exit Questionnaire or in an Exit Interview will not automatically be considered as a formal grievance for the purposes of this policy. Grievances submitted after the date that an employee’s employment has ended, may not be given consideration by Catch22 Multi Academy Trust.
How does the grievance policy work?
It is preferable for all parties concerned to seek to resolve matters informally as this is deemed more likely to produce solutions which are speedy, effective and to restore positive relations in the workforce. It will also help to minimise embarrassment and the risk of breaching confidentiality.
Any concerns or issues should be raised informally in the first instance with the employee’s line-manager (at grade G or above) or if the complaint is about the Line Manager, by contacting the Line Manager’s manager.
At this stage the Line Manager, or other manager if nominated to consider the grievance for any reason, will meet with the employee to discuss the issue on a one to one basis.
The employee should explain what his/her concern is about and the reasons for it. The employee must keep to sharing facts with the Line manager and in doing so, avoid at all times language which may be considered discriminatory, insulting or abusive.
The manager will be responsible for investigating the grievance and consider the merits of the concern and whether there may be any motive behind the allegations.
If the manager considers there to be no merit in the concern, the employee should be advised of the reason(s) why. If there is merit to the concern, the manager and the employee should discuss together the options available to resolve it. Line Managers should be able to resolve minor issues through normal line management, and if another manager is addressing the grievance, the Line Manager be kept informed of progress.
If possible, an informal discussion with all parties concerned should then take place. Where appropriate and if the employee agrees that this would help resolve the issues, it may be suitable to address issues being raised through other mechanisms such as mediation or one to one meetings.
Whilst this stage is informal, a note of any discussion should be taken and kept for a period of six months after which time the notes of the discussions should be discarded.
Where it has not been possible to resolve the matter informally, employees will need to state their grievance formally in writing. If the employee puts their grievance in writing prior to any informal discussions taking place, depending on the nature of the grievance, the Line Manager must refer the employee back to the informal process for the grievance to be addressed through that route.
The formal written grievance submission should clearly set out the nature of the grievance and indicate the outcome/resolution being sought by the aggrieved. If the statement is unclear, then employees may be asked to clarify the nature of the grievance and/or outcome sought before any meetings are held.
Where the grievance relates to an employee’s Line Manager, it should be raised with the next appropriate senior manager i.e. Head Teacher (who must be at a higher grade than the Line Manager)/ Executive Principal / CEO of Education.
The Line Manager must inform the Trust’s People Partner as soon as a grievance has been raised. The grievance will be acknowledged in writing by the recipient, which may be in the form of an email. Details will subsequently be provided on who will meet with the employee to discuss their grievance. The employee must take all reasonable steps to attend any meetings set.
After a date has been agreed the meeting will proceed unless there are good reasons for agreeing to a postponement, such as difficulty in obtaining representation on the given date.
If the employee fails to attend the meeting without providing prior notification, the manager considering the grievance will seek to ascertain the reasons for this and the meeting will be postponed. In the opinion of the manager considering the grievance, where the employee cannot or could not reasonably attend the meeting for a reason that was not reasonably foreseeable at the time the meeting was arranged, the meeting must be re-arranged. An acceptable reason for a re-arrangement of the meeting will be that the employee’s representative could not attend. A re-arranged meeting must be set within 7 working days of the original date unless another date is mutually agreed by the employee and the manager considering the grievance.
Once a new date is arranged for the grievance meeting, the employee must be sent the details of the new meeting date. Only one re-arrangement of the meeting is reasonably considered necessary.
In some circumstances, it may be necessary to assign an impartial manager from another hub to consider the grievance. This will usually be in circumstances where there are allegations by the employee of bullying and harassment from his/her manager/s. The purpose of the investigation is purely to establish the facts and may involve collating information/documentation or interviewing any relevant individuals. The manager (grade G or above and must be a higher grade than the accused) will be sufficiently experienced to conduct the grievance meeting and be responsible for determining the outcome.
At the start of the grievance meeting the manager considering the grievance will:
- introduce all parties and explain his/her role;
- confirm with the employee that s/he has read and understands the Grievance Policy and Procedure;
- confirm that the employee is aware of his/her rights under the Grievance Policy and Procedure;
- ask the employee to explain the nature of his/her grievance;
- ask the employee to explain the resolution s/he is seeking;
- ensure that the employee and/or their representative has the opportunity to respond to information collated during the investigation;
- if appropriate, call an adjournment to gather fresh material or to consider material which has been presented; and
- determine the appropriate outcome and inform the employee of his/her right of appeal and how to exercise that right.
The manager of the grievance meeting will decide upon one of the following outcomes of the grievance/s raised:
- Upheld – where the grievance raised has been substantiated;
- Partially Upheld – where the grievance raised has been partially substantiated;
- Not Upheld – where the grievance raised has not been substantiated.
The manager considering the grievance should consider the facts based on the burden of proof being that of “balance of probabilities”, and whether those involved have acted reasonably throughout, taking consideration of all the facts.
The employee will be advised of the outcome as soon as the manager has reached a decision and notified in writing, along with a copy of the meeting minutes without unreasonable delay, but within 7 working days of the meeting, unless by mutual agreement an extension of this period has been previously agreed.
In the event that Catch22 Multi Academy Trust proposes to take any other formal action as a result of a grievance raised, the aggrieved employee will (if appropriate) be notified.
The appeals process
If an employee is not satisfied with the outcome of his/her grievance s/he may appeal against the outcome decision by submitting his/her appeal in writing (which may be in the form of an email) setting out the grounds for the appeal. The appeal must be done within 7 working days of receiving the written decision.
The decision of the manager appointed to hear the grievance appeal is final and there is no further right of appeal.
Dealing with allegations of bullying and harassment
If an employee believes that they have been bullied or harassed, they should report this to their Line Manager immediately. Such allegations will be dealt with via the Grievance Policy and Procedure.
The Line Manager should discuss this with the Trust’s People Partner and Executive Principal so, if considered necessary, an impartial manager from another hub or service can be assigned to investigate the allegations.
Consideration should be given to the support to be offered to the employee during the process.
Should the allegations of bullying and harassment be upheld, the actions of the perpetrator will be addressed through the disciplinary process. (See Catch22 Multi Academy Trust’s Handling Bullying and Harassment Policy and Procedure for further details).
Some employment related grievances have separate policy arrangements for their resolution. These are:
Every employee has a statutory right to raise a grievance under this policy which at the same time is also a ‘protected disclosure’ under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (i.e. the employee is ‘whistleblowing’).
This is dependent on the matter being raised as a grievance properly falling within the range of Grievance Policy and Procedure, rather than that of Whistleblowing, in which case see Catch22 Multi Academy Trust’s Whistleblowing Policy and Procedure.
Sometimes, an independent third party or mediator can help resolve a grievance matter before or after a formal grievance has been raised or a meeting has been held.
Mediation is always a voluntary process. If both Catch22 Multi Academy Trust and the parties involved in the process consider that mediation may help resolve the grievance situation, the formal grievance procedure will be paused (i.e. frozen by mutual consent) while the mediation process takes place.
Overlapping grievance and disciplinary process
Where an employee raises a grievance during a disciplinary process, the disciplinary process may be temporarily suspended (paused) in order to address the grievance.
Where the grievance and disciplinary cases are related it may be appropriate to address both issues concurrently.
Access to records
The gathering, holding, processing and giving access to data relevant to the Grievance Policy and Procedure will be in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018, and Codes of Practice made thereunder.
Records of each grievance must include:
- The nature of the grievance;
- A copy of the grievance letter (including any subsequent appeals);
- Catch22 Multi Academy Trust’s response at each stage of the procedure;
- Action taken by Catch22 Multi Academy Trust;
- The reasons why action (or no action) was taken;
- Whether there was an appeal at any stage of the procedures and, if so, the outcome;
- Any subsequent developments arising out of the grievance.
The relevant manager will aim as much as possible, to keep all parties informed on the progress of the grievance, although witness statements may not be shared unless the matter relates to a disciplinary process.
Once a collective grievance approach is chosen the same issues cannot be subsequently raised under the individual grievance policy or any other complaints-based policy. Issues about which a collective grievance may be raised include:
- Interpretation and application of terms and conditions of employment;
- Working conditions;
- Changes to working practices and procedures.
Issues that cannot be covered by the collective grievance procedure include:
- Disciplinary issues, including warnings, suspensions and dismissals, which will be dealt with under Catch22 Multi Academy Trust’s Disciplinary Policy and Procedure and the appeal arrangements provided within that procedure;
- Where a separate specific procedure exists, the specific procedure should be used. For example, capability, redundancy and whistleblowing policies and procedures;
- Where the individual Grievance Policy and Procedure is already in operation or has been exhausted;
- Personal (non-work related) disputes between employees;
- Matters which have been or are currently the subject of consultation prescribed by statute or regulation or subject to internal consultation or non-statutory consultation;
- Matters over which Catch22 Multi Academy Trust has no control.
The grievance may be referred to ACAS by either party by mutual consent of both parties for conciliation if the matter(s) is/are not resolved after the formal process.
Catch22 Multi Academy Trust is committed to ensuring there are no excessive delays when dealing with grievance matters. In exceptional circumstances, such as complex cases, it may be necessary to extend the timescales. If this happens, the employee(s) will be advised of the agreed timescales that will apply.
Reasonable time and consideration will be given to all grievance matters, however, as general guidance the following timescales should be followed: In the event that these timescales cannot be adhered to, the manager should inform the employee as soon as practically possible.
- Acknowledgement of a grievance within 7 working Days
- Notice given to attend a meeting should be 7 working Days (Investigatory / Grievance / Appeal Meeting)
- Notification of the outcome of a meeting within 7 working Days (Investigatory / Grievance / Appeal Meeting)
Employees have the right to seek a deferment to a meeting of up to 7 working days in order to arrange representation for the meeting.
Right of representation
All employees have the right to be represented during the grievance process, this will be from either a LinkUp representative, a workplace colleague or a Trade Union Representative. The employee concerned shall be advised of their right of representation prior to any meetings taking place.
The representative may be a Trade Union Officer, a LinkUp representative (who may or may not act on behalf of a trade union) or a workplace colleague. All other persons who are not employees of Catch22 Multi Academy Trust will have no automatic right to represent an employee.
- Disciplinary Policy and Procedure
- Harassment and Bullying Policy and Procedure