Raising an issue at work

I’ve worked on the Acas helpline for six years. My role is to help employers and employees resolve actual or potential employment tribunal disputes. I spend most of my time working directly with employers providing them with the skills and knowledge training in all sorts of
management issues. They come with lots of issues. Some things are to do with employment
legislation, some aren’t, they just may be personal issues that they want to
find a way of talking to the employer about. As a conciliator we deal with anything
and everything really. Anything from unpaid wages claims all the way
up to unfair dismissal and the more serious cases such as discrimination. Oftentimes we will get a call from a customer
they might be advised to keep a diary of events, record what’s happening who said it etcetera. However when they do speak to us on the helpline, what we do is we focus on is there another way that
they could resolve it and that tends to be talking to either the individual concerned
because that could help them to understand whether there’s any foundation or not.
They could also speak to their manager because that would let their manager know that
there is a situation that could be brewing. It might help also to work together to resolve it. It’ s certainly the case that if issues are dealt with quickly and
informally there’s a greater chance of having them resolved rather than if they
do go to a formal process. There are number of benefits for employers of resolving issues informally. One it’s quicker, two it’s more flexible, three there might be a better resolution for everyone involved. It’s important however for an employee to use a formal procedure if they really feel that the gravity of the situation calls
for it for example if the person they would normally have the informal meeting
with is the subject of the grievance. For example they’ve been feel they’ve been
bullied by their line manager, they feel they can’t approach anybody else in the
business informally and they need to make it known that this is a formal
complaint. My experience working with employers tells me that they would much rather resolve their issues sooner rather than later and avoid a potentially
damaging grievance process. The downside of formalising grievances is that by its
very nature you’re starting to write down what you believe has gone wrong, in
effect building evidence and this can lead you to a mindset or a position
where you’re starting to think about what you might do with that evidence.
You’re already looking at something that’s very adversarial. Whereas with
informal discussions you’re looking immediately at trying to find a resolution. You shouldn’t forget that you have an absolute right to raise the formal grievance if you wish. However, at Acas we do suggest that before doing
that you take an informal approach, that you do speak to your employer because in some instances that may be all you need to do to actually get an outcome.

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