Resolving issues at work policy

1. Introduction

  1. All staff are strongly encouraged to resolve potential disagreements in the workplace through informal approaches and this policy exists for that purpose. Many workplace problems can be resolved informally, for example through a quiet chat. This is more likely to be effective if it is initiated as soon as possible after any alleged incident/issue.
  2. Managers and staff at all levels of the University are encouraged to view the informal raising of disagreements constructively. Wellbeing and good performance/productivity can be dependent on effective working relationships, and the fair and reasonable handling of disagreements is an important element in creating and maintaining those relationships. A ‘no fault’ approach is strongly recommended by all parties when responding to disagreements raised under this policy, with resolution being a shared and inclusive responsibility.
  3. This policy covers the following groups of staff: Senior Staff, Academic, Professional Services, Research, Apprentices and all hourly-paid employees. A different provision exists for the Vice Chancellor as well as the Registrar and Chief Operating Officer (see 8 below).
  4. This in no way affects an employee’s statutory right to raise a formal grievance.

2. Purpose

  1. To have a policy that encourages both staff and managers to resolve disputes at work informally, in an open and discursive manner so that matters do not necessarily have to be raised as formal grievances. It is hoped that most disagreements can be resolved in this informal manner.
  2. It is not intended that this informal approach should entail a wide scale investigation of issues but rather a safe, informal and constructive dialogue.
  3. If an issue is raised, this provides an opportunity for the manager to resolve a workplace problem and improve working conditions and/or morale. Knowing about a problem is always much better than remaining ignorant of the fact that an employee is unhappy or disgruntled about some aspect of their employment.
  4. Adopting a constructive attitude may also facilitate a speedy and satisfactory resolution. A less constructive attitude towards disputes can potentially alienate the member of staff and aggravate the situation. The matter will remain unresolved and the employee may feel that raising a formal grievance is their only recourse.
  5. This policy does not cover conduct, capability, ill-health or grading matters; these have their own procedures for resolving disputes. It can reasonably be used for all other areas of dispute.

3. Legislation

  1. Whilst not a statutory legal framework, the University will be mindful of the Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures

4. Date policy last reviewed

  1. This policy was reviewed: December 2021.

5. Mediation

  1. At any stage in this policy the dispute can be paused and mediation can be employed to resolve the issues. Mediation is voluntary and all parties would need to agree to enter into it. The University would encourage all parties to consider mediation at the earliest opportunity as a way of resolving a dispute if all parties feel it might be a very helpful intervention
  2. Workplace mediation would be facilitated by independent persons whose role would not be to judge any of the parties concerned nor seek to be accusatory. The process would seek to facilitate agreed ways forward, in a supported and confidential manner. Further information on mediation can be secured from Human Resources.

6. Process

  1. A member of staff wishing to raise a matter of dispute with their line manager does not have to do so in writing. Speaking about the matter may be entirely sufficient, depending upon the circumstances.
  2. A meeting will be arranged as soon as reasonably possible in a way that can be confidential, safe and discrete. At this meeting the member of staff can be encouraged to talk the issues through.
  3. Managers should always take the matter seriously. It is possible sometimes that the issues raised appear to the manager to be trivial however, they should bear in mind that the matter may not be trivial to the employee. If the meeting is over something minor, the chances are that the manager will be able to resolve it relatively quickly and without it being burdensome. Managers should be mindful that it is easy for conflicts to become deep-seated when a misunderstanding remains unsolved for a prolonged period of time. Concurrently members of staff are encouraged not to ‘store-up’ issues over a prolonged period of time before raising them as this sometimes makes the task of resolving them all the more problematic.
  4. The line manager will draft a confidential record of any meeting, to be agreed by both sides. This record need not be too extensive but could include what the issue is about, what you did (such as meet and discuss it), what was discussed in any informal chat or meeting, any next steps agreed and maybe the reasons for any next steps.
  5. The record of the meeting will only be shared by the member of staff and their line manager if the matter escalates to a formal grievance or if all involved agree it would be beneficial to share the record more widely.
  6. Follow up after any chat/meeting to ascertain if the member of staff feels that the matter is now resolved, in reasonable time, and within a period agreed by both sides. If they feel that it is not, then to move things forward the manager could check that any agreed steps have been followed, ascertain if anything further could be done and possibly set up another meeting. The member of staff raising the concern should be told that they have the right to use the Grievance procedure if they are unhappy with the outcome of the process, or if they feel the resolution is taking too long.
  7. Please note that even if the employee is unable to quite achieve the outcome that they desire, their reaction is still likely to be more receptive and possibly accepting if they feel that their line manager has considered matters thoroughly, fairly and sensitively. However, as stated in para. 1.4, the employee’s right to raise a grievance remains unaffected.

7. Being accompanied and the role of Human Resources

  1. Staff may wish to involve someone else such as a colleague or a trade union representative and that is entirely appropriate. If line managers feel a ‘case conference’ approach would be helpful then others could be included such as someone from HR and/or a Head of Department. However, all parties are asked to remember at all times that informal interventions, however well facilitated, can be intimidating for some staff. The spirit of such meetings is one of not apportioning blame but rather one of openness, constructive dialogue, compromise and seeking an agreed outcome/solution.

8. Vice-Chancellor and the Registrar and Chief Operating Officer

  1. Informal issues raised by these employees largely follow this policy except that any matter of dispute would be submitted to the Director of Human Resources who would inform the Chair of the Board of Governors. It would be for the Chair or their nominated alternate to meet informally with the member of staff in the manner prescribed within this policy.