An employee may submit a grievance, but subsequently decide to withdraw it.
If this occurs, what should employers do?
As tempting as it may be to just consider their complaint solved and move on, it is important that employees’ workplace issues, concerns and complaints are handled appropriately in order to maintain good employment relationships, prevent small issues escalating to big problems and avoid costly claims in Employment Tribunals.
Find out the reason for withdrawing
Whether the reason for the grievance is bullying, harassment, discrimination or unfair treatment, difficult relationships with colleagues or management, remuneration, health and safety, changes in the workplace or to terms and conditions of employment, employers should talk to the employee and find out the reason why they have decided to withdraw their grievance.
After some thought and reflection, did they simply change their mind? Did they make the grievance in the ‘heat of the moment’ and now think they it is simply not worth pursuing? If the grievance relates to bullying, harassment or discrimination, have they been intimidated or threatened to drop their complaint? Are they worried that might they be subject to unfair treatment by their employer if they carry on with their grievance?
Give them reassurance
You can explain to the employee that grievances are taken seriously by the company and will be managed with care and sensitivity. This may put their mind at rest and encourage them to speak about their complaint or issue.
If the employee is very reluctant, you may think guaranteeing absolute confidentiality is the way forward. However, you should not do this. Although every attempt should be made to treat allegations in confidence, if formal disciplinary action is required, it may be necessary to disclose enough information to the accused employee to enable them to put their side of the story.
Ultimately it is their choice whether they decide to continue with their grievance.
Investigation may be necessary
It is important to note that there may be cases where the employer decides they need to step in. For example, in cases where an employee is making complaints and allegations of other employees’ misconduct, you may need to conduct an investigation to ascertain the truth behind these allegations and pursue the matter via your disciplinary procedures.
Get some help
Grievances can be remarkably tricky to deal with; therefore it is important to make sure that you seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity. Your Employment Law Adviser can help you understand what a fair grievance procedure involves and warn you of common mistakes and pitfalls.