Case Study Grievance

Steve is the general manager of a UK company. He has responsibility for HR and appointed us as his advisers to support him in staying legally compliant.

One of his telesales staff Jenny had been underperforming and we devised a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) to provide support and targets to help her improve. The PIP was overseen by her line manager Sally.

Jenny announced that she was getting married in the summer. Sally had just been through a very acrimonious split from her partner and had some choice words to say about marriage in general. A week later Jenny went to see Steve and say that Sally had been making very personal and inappropriate remarks in their PIP supervisory sessions and in the office generally. She felt that Sally was being unfairly harsh in judging her performance on the PIP. The next day she raised a written grievance about this.

When Sally was notified of the grievance she called in sick with stress and submitted counter grievance by saying that Jenny has made inappropriate comments about her relationship breakdown.

With feelings running high on both sides Steve was worried about the effect on the rest of the team’s performance and was anxious to try and resolve the situation quickly. He asks his assistant to take on the management of the PIP.

Steve is worried that Sally might be on long term sick leave if she was too stressed to face Jenny. We briefed him on how to properly manage the grievance process and the importance of not requiring Sally to deal with work issues while she was off sick if she did not want to. Sally subsequently said she wanted to deal with the matter as soon as possible as it was contributing to her stress.

To investigate the grievance Steve spoke to other staff who had overheard the remarks that Sally and Jenny had made in the office. He established that some inappropriate things had been said on both sides. The PIP supervisory sessions were private so he could not verify what was said there.

He explained to Sally and Jenny that he did not uphold either grievance but he was willing to bring in a mediator (provided by LIMEhr) to help resolve their differences to facilitate on on-going working relationship. Sally then disclosed that she was considering moving away to make a clean break. We advised Steve to make a without prejudice offer that Sally could leave and not be required to work for the 3 months’ notice and be paid in lieu. Sally agreed.

Steve thanked us for managing the grievance process for us and for coming up with a pragmatic approach and solution. He was grateful for the time we saved him by dealing with this matter on his behalf.