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B. Key Considerations

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Code of Practice on Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures

The Code of Practice on Grievance and Disciplinary procedures sets out principles which should be adhered to in any grievance management procedure.  It sets out the rights of an Employee which must be upheld throughout the procedure.  Although a breach of the Code does not automatically leave an Organisation open to litigation or fines in itself, a failure to adhere to the principles in the Code may increase the risk of a claim of constructive dismissal by an Employee.

The general principles which should be applied in every grievance procedure as set out in the Code are as follows:

  • The procedure must be rational and fair.
  • The basis for any grievance must be clear.
  • There must be an internal appeals mechanism.
  • The procedure should be reviewed in line with current practices.
  • Grievance procedures should generally commence with an informal stage where the Employee addresses the issue directly with their Manager before the formal process is commenced.
  • The principles of natural justice must be adhered to:
    • Details of the complaint must be put to the Organisation.
    • The Organisation must be afforded an opportunity to respond.
    • The Employee should be afforded the opportunity to avail of representation, defined in the Code of Practice as a colleague, or member of a registered Trade Union, but not any other person or body unconnected with the enterprise.
    • The Employee has a right to a fair and impartial determination of the issues concerned taking account of relevant factors and evidence.
  • Steps in the procedure should generally be progressive, however it is acknowledged that in certain situations the Employee may choose to raise an issue at the later stages of the procedure without recourse to the informal stages or other stages of the procedure.
  • The procedure should set out levels of responsibility for each stage of the procedure.
  • Adequate records must be kept in relation to grievance situations.