Employees experience lots of different types of issues in the workplace. Often the first thing to do when concerns arise within the workplace is to address this informally with your employer.
How to raise a grievance
If this fails, then an employee has the option of addressing issues in the workplace via a formal grievance process. This entails the employee setting out written details of their complaints and sending this to the employer in accordance with the internal grievance process. Even if an employer does not have a formal grievance process, a statutory grievance process will apply, pursuant to the ACAS code of practice governing workplace disputes.
If an employee raises a formal grievance, the employer is required to address this by setting up a meeting to discuss it, having investigated the complaint. The employer is required to write to the employee with their decision as well as offer an opportunity to appeal that decision.
Performance improvement plan process
Further issues in the workplace which may arise can be connected to a perception by the employer that the employee is not performing adequately. In this situation, an employer may decide to instigate a performance improvement plan (PIP). In this case, the employer would write to the employee setting out details of where it is perceived the employee is underperforming and requesting the employee to attend a formal meeting to address these concerns.
If a performance improvement plan is being implemented and followed by the employer, there would be an expectation that several warnings would be issued to the employee prior to the employer being in a position to fairly dismiss that employee.
Having a protected conversation
When issues in the workplace arise, it is not always the case that the employer wishes to follow a formal process to address those issues with the individual concerned. Instead, the employer may decide to offer the individual an alternative option rather than following the formal process. In this case, the employer is likely to engage in a protected conversation with the individual and offer that individual the opportunity to accept a settlement agreement to avoid concluding a formal process.
Seeking legal advice
You will be entitled to seek legal advice on your settlement agreement and the employer will be expected to pay a contribution towards the legal costs that you incur.
The adviser will need to understand all of the details in relation to the issues which have arisen in the workplace in order to properly advise you whether or not the sums of money being paid to you pursuant to the settlement agreement are sufficient or alternatively, whether you should consider negotiating those terms.
Depending on which issues in the workplace have arisen and which process has been followed by the employer, there may be an opportunity to negotiate a more favourable settlement agreement. Your advisor can explain to you if this is the case and can discuss the process for that negotiation.
Issue an employment tribunal claim
You may also be at liberty to issue a claim at the Employment Tribunal if issues of the workplace have not been addressed correctly by your employer and statutory claims have arisen accordingly. Again, the advisor providing you advice pursuant to your settlement agreement will be able to discuss with you whether any such claims have arisen. It is likely that you will be required to waive your rights to pursue those claims in the Employment Tribunal in the event that you choose to enter into the settlement agreement that has been offered to you by your employer.
With over 10 years of experience in employment law matters, David Philip Harris specialises in providing legal advice on settlement agreements to both employees and employers throughout the UK. David’s opinion and advice are frequently sought after as he contributes often to BBC Radio Berkshire and the People Management Magazine. David Is a long-standing member of The Employment Lawyers Association and The Law Society.