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Conflict, Discipline & Grievance

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Ian Smyth

on 14 April 2015

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Transcript of Conflict, Discipline & Grievance

Conflict, Discipline & Grievance
BMG 402 - Week 10

To review conflict, it's meaning and definitions
To review the core skills involved in effective disciplinary interviewing
To examine issues relating to the planning and conduct of disciplinary interviews
To examine the importance of effective grievance procedures
Learning Outcomes
Employee fails to respond to coaching/ counselling (formal/ informal)
Beardwell (2010)
The Purpose of Interviews: Disciplinary
Beardwell (2010)
Preparation – collecting the relevant facts, special circumstances, checking explanations in advance, planning structure and key points, advance notice to employee
Key Skills
Principles of Natural Justice in Employment
Features of Disciplinary Procedures (ACAS)
The Principal Incremental Stages of a Disciplinary Procedure
Widgets & Co
Case Study
Termination of Employment
“A dismissal consists of collecting relevant information, a sequence of decision points and informed judgement based on a knowledge of the legal framework, the principles of natural justice and considerable skill” (Pilbeam and Corbridge, 2010, p.527)

Evolving legal framework
EU, Government
Codes of Practice – Labour Relations Agency (2011), ACAS (2009)
Case law has a very strong influence on practice
The right to be told the facts of the case against you
The right to a hearing to tell your side of the story
The right to representation of your choice
The right to appeal to a higher level of your choice within the company/externally
Undertake an investigation
Interviewing the relevant parties
Deciding on what action is reasonable in the circumstances
Communicate the decision to the employee and inform them of the appeals procedure
Fair Procedures and Natural Justice
Employment Rights Acts (1996, 2002)

Misconduct - examples
Theft and dishonesty
Alcohol abuse
Breach of confidence
Refusal to obey instructions
Misconduct outside the workplace
Lack of capability
Statutory bar to employment
Some other substantial reason
Five Potentially Fair Reasons for Dismissal
Line managers may handle cases, especially in early stages

HR specialists:
May be trained in handling interpersonal issues
Devise procedures
Provide specialist advice
Ensure that everyone knows the procedures and acts on them
Ensure that line managers are suitably trained
Take part in monitoring effectiveness of procedures
The roles of the HR manager and the
line manager
Avoids time lost, disruption and bad publicity caused by tribunal cases
Helps ensure good employee relations and retention
Ensues compliance with ACAS code of practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures
Advantages of a fair discipline
Good disciplinary procedures should
be in writing
be non-discriminatory
avoid delays
allow for confidentiality
state the disciplinary actions which may be taken
specify levels of authority for different layers of management
provide information and evidence to persons subject to proceedings prior to a disciplinary hearing
The ACAS code of practice on
discipline and grievance procedures
Give employees opportunity to state case
Provide for employees to be accompanied
Ensure no worker is disciplined for first offence (except for gross misconduct)
Ensure adequate prior investigation by management
Ensure workers are given explanation of penalties imposed
Apply to all workers, irrespective of length of service, or state if different rules apply for different groups
The ACAS code of practice on discipline
and grievance procedures (Continued)
Consider any organisation that you know:
What disciplinary rules did the organisation have?
How were these rules made known to you?
What were considered to be offences?
Were there any that were regarded as particularly serious and constituted gross misconduct?

Now compare your lists with others. What reasons can you find for any differences?
Pause for thought
Normally the most appropriate way of dealing with alleged minor misconduct or unsatisfactory performance
May just involve the supervisor or manager having a quiet word with the individual
Can be a quick and easy way of sorting out a problem
Informal action
1. Investigation
2. Letter with supporting documents
3. Meeting:
No disciplinary action
Disciplinary actions:
A first written warning or improvement note
Final written warning
Dismissal or other penalty
4. Appeals procedure
5. Records
Formal action
Offences such as the following, which might lead to dismissal for a first offence:
Gross misconduct
The ending of a person’s employment
Special cases:
Fixed-term contracts -
Rights to claim unfair dismissal cannot be signed away
Constructive dismissal -
Resignation because of employer’s behaviour
Employee normally needs to have followed the grievance procedure before handing in their notice
What do you consider to be potentially fair grounds for dismissal?

Compare your lists with other students’.
Pause for thought
Most common reasons for dismissal
Most common causes of unfair dismissal claims
Ranges from acts of gross misconduct to repeated acts of minor misconduct
Grounds for dismissal – conduct
Lack of qualifications
Incompetence or poor performance

....but note Disability Discrimination Act (1995) – needs to make reasonable adjustments for disabled persons to keep their jobs
Grounds for dismissal – capability
A statutory requirement where employer would break the law in continuing to employ that person
e.g. employee without work permit or under age

Some other substantial reason
A genuinely fair reason for dismissal which doesn’t fit into other categories
e.g. the end of a temporary contract
Further grounds for dismissal
Margaret Foot and Caroline Hook, Introducing Human Resource Management, 6th Edition, © Pearson Education Limited 2012
Between 1 April 2008 and 31March 2009, 55 000 claims to employment tribunals were made for unfair dismissal. Of these:
31 534 went to ACAS for conciliation
16 282 were settled prior to the tribunal
8131were withdrawn
7121 went to a tribunal
(ACAS, 2009)
Did you know?
Recommended Reading
Armstrong, M. (2012) Armstrong’s Handbook of Human Resource Management Practice. 12th ed. London: Kogan Page. Ch. 60 & 61
Foot, M., Hook, C. (2008) Introducing Human Resource management, 5th ed. Prentice Hall. Ch. 13 & 14
Bratton, J., Gold, J. (2012) Human Resource Management Theory and Practice, 5th ed. Palgrave. Ch. 13
For more, see Blackboard Learn
Decision-making – notify employee of outcome asap but take time to reflect
Note-taking – recording by objective party
Dealing with emotions – remaining professional and polite in spite of interviewee reaction
Listening skills – undercover causes of poor performance, do not pre-judge outcome, silences
Questioning skills – establishing the facts, probing is critical
Rapport-building – non-confrontational tone, introductions and reasons for stakeholder involvement, explain purpose, explain proceedings
Serious infringement of health and safety rules
Racial harassment
Sexual harassment
Physical assault
Incapacity to work because of drugs or alcohol
Deliberate damage
Discipline Case Study - Next Steps
This technique for handling conflict situations has three stages :
If Conflict Escalates: The Control Trilogy
The one we go to most often, the one we prefer to use and that feels most natural
Best fit to our personality, life experience, beliefs and values
Because we practice it, we are most skilful with our dominant mode
Dominant Conflict-Handling Mode
Dissatisfaction, stress and/or tension
Performance affected
People stop cooperating
Negative Outcomes
“Some type of interaction with a negative emotional charge”

(Killen & Murphy, 2003)
Definition of Conflict 2
“The condition in which people’s concerns – the things they care about – appear to be incompatible”

(Kilmann, 2000)
Definition of Conflict 1
By the end of this section, you will have:
Defined conflict
Established the sources of conflict at work
Explored different conflict-handling modes
Reflected on managers’ role
Reviewed a conflict situation and action plan to address
Understand conflict
Reflect on reactions
Practice different styles to handle conflict
Aims of this section:
Part 1: Conflict
& Have a good week
In five teams
Each team takes a different mode
Prepare a flipchart:
When would you use it
Skills/behaviours needed
Choosing A Different Mode
Open-up discussion
Generate new ideas/better solutions
Increase involvement/personal investment
Positive Outcomes
Develop and share your understanding and experience of conflict at work
Understand your preferred mode of handling conflict and explore other modes
Build confidence to intervene in conflict situations whether personal or between members of your team
Conflict Modes
Different Assumptions
Conflicting Goals
Different Information
Lack of Co-operation
Personality Clashes
Sources of Conflict
Poor Performance
Different values, ethics or beliefs about what is fair
Competition For Limited Resources
Win-lose for both
Satisfaction you intend for other
Satisfaction you intend for yourself
Conflict Modes
Life Experience
Life Experience

Employee Initiated - With respect to:
conditions of employment where a situation appears contrary to the provisions of collective agreements
the individual contract
work rules
laws or regulations
custom and practice, often involving the concept of the psychological contract
Grievance Definition-
Anything that disturbs an employee
A spoken or written dissatisfaction
A complaint formally presented to a management representative, union official or industrial tribunal
Grievance: Definitions
(Torrington et al 2011 p495)
Terms and conditions of employment
Health and safety
Work relations
Bullying and harassment
New working practices
Working environment
Organisational change
Equal opportunities.
Types of Grievance
Grievance: Procedures
Majority of complaints can be resolved in informal way (Labour Research Department, 1995).
Only 30% of organisations used formal grievance procedures (Cully et al., 1999).
Informal element can be less damaging to relationships.
Needs to be managed sensitively by supervisors and/or HRs.
Consider Alternative Dispute Resolution
Informal Stage
Resolving Dissatisfaction
Edwards,P. (1995) ‘Discipline: Towards Trust and Self-Discipline’, in Bach,S. and K.Sisson (eds) Personnel Management (3rd edn), Blackwell.
Towers,B. (ed) (2003) The Handbook of Employment Relations, Law & Practice, Kogan Page (various chapters are relevant).
ACAS Website: www.acas.org.uk
Equality Commission: www.equalityni.org
Employment Tribunals: www.employementtribunals.gov.uk
Additional Reading
Hold the meeting in private
If the grievance concerns the line manager, consider who else could hear the complaint
Tell the employee of their right to be accompanied
Ensure an open discussion of the issue
Consider adjourning the meeting if further advice needs to be sought
Don’t make a snap decision – even if the solution at first seems obvious, there may be repercussions to consider
Give the employee the chance to appeal if they are not happy with the decision
Appeal Hearing:
Three step statutory disciplinary, dismissal and grievance procedures which must be followed in most cases
Failure to follow the statutory procedures by the employer prior to dismissal will render that dismissal automatically unfair
Employers will pay a potential increase in compensation of between 10-50% if the procedures are not followed by the employer
An employee may be prevented from presenting some types of claim in the employment tribunal if they have not followed the grievance procedure first
The procedures are non-contractual until further notification by the Department of Trade and Industry unless an organisation chooses to incorporate the statutory minimum into their own contractual procedures.
3 Step Procedure
Resolving Disputes
source: ACAS (2004)
Task Conflict

Conflicts over content and goals of the work
Low-to-moderate levels of this type are FUNCTIONAL

Relationship Conflict
Conflict based on interpersonal relationships

Process Conflict
Conflict over how work gets done
Low levels of this type are FUNCTIONAL

Types of Interactionist Conflict
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