Grievance and Discipline processes

The core assumptions behind our Grievance and Discipline processes

  • CORE ROLE: Our core role, as Aptivate employees, is to serve as General Members of Staff (GMS).
  • DUTIES OF THE CORE ROLE: As GMS, we are each expected to contribute significant value to Aptivate and our clients, and reduce or eliminate risk, waste, and unproductive conflict, to the best of our abilities and as agreed with our colleagues in Working Groups and Project Teams.
  • GRIEVANCE: If any member of staff feels that their ability to do this effectively is impaired in any way by the policies of Aptivate, Working Group, or Project Team, or by the actions of another member of staff, that is a reason to begin the Grievance process.
  • DISCIPLINE: If any member of staff feels that another member of staff, contractor, or volunteer is not fulfilling their duties — either their core duties as a GMS or other duties that are specific to another role that person has agreed to execute — this is a reason to begin the Discipline process.

 

Is this grounds for DISCIPLINE, GRIEVANCE, or FEEDBACK?

If the issue is not significantly affecting anyone, or if it affects people (including you) but it is neither chronic nor intense / urgent, then it should be used as an opportunity to give feedback.

If the issue is significantly affecting you (it is chronic, intense, or urgent), then you should start a grievance process.

If the issue significantly affects the organization — that is, it severely affects you, or provides a source of risk, waste, or unresolved conflict that is substantial, then you should start a discipline process.

For example:

If someone says something that offends you, tell them – this is feedback.

If they say the same sort of thing repeatedly, launch a grievance process.

If they say the same sort of thing repeatedly, and you think it’s losing us clients or that it is otherwise a risk to the company, launch a discipline process. Or if someone does something that you believe to be a clear breach of someone’s duties — such as sexually assaulting someone, embezzling, etc. — launch a discipline process.

 

Feedback Process

Get some guidelines on how to do feedback here.

 

Grievance Process (aka Conflict Resolution)

  1. THERE IS AN ISSUE. Somebody [the Aggrieved] has an issue with a person or group or other working condition.
  2. ACCOMPANIMENT: The Aggrieved may choose an Advocate to accompany her during every meeting or conversation of the Appeal process. That Advocate may be a trade union representative, trade union official, or a member of Aptivate.
  3. COMMUNICATE USING ‘I’ STATEMENTS; MAKE A CLEAR REQUEST FOR CHANGE. The Aggrieved communicates the issue directly to the person or people with whom they have an issue, or the person or group who has decision-making authority about the relevant working condition, unless the Aggrieved feels unable to communicate directly to that person or group for any reason.
    1. If the Aggrieved feels able to raise the issue directly, use nonviolent communication skills or the standard Feedback Script to discuss the issue. This should include a description of what happened, how that affected the Aggrieved, what specific observable changes the Aggrieved would like their colleague(s) to make, and by when they feel that they need to experience change.
  4. TEAM MEDIATION. If the issue is unresolved in the requested time frame, the Aggrieved communicates the issue to a team-mate they believe will be able to facilitate a feedback session or otherwise help the two parties amicably resolve the issue.
    1. The team-mate seeks the agreement of the other party(ies) to participate in a feedback session or otherwise conduct an amicable conflict resolution process.
    2. The team-mates work through the issue and make changes as best they can using the amicable conflict resolution process.
  5. PROFESSIONAL MEDIATION. If the issue is unresolved, (or if the Aggrieved feels unable to raise the issue with any people on the relevant team – Working Group or Project Team) the Aggrieved brings the issue to the working group which currently manages the Grievance and Discipline processes (currently the People working group).
    1. The person in the group who receives the request for support adds the issue to the tracking log for such issues, and either identifies herself as the person managing support for this issue, or explicitly agrees with another People member that that person will become the lead support person for this issue.
    2. If the complaint is serious enough to have legal implications for Aptivate, the People working group will report the issue to the Directors.
    3. The lead support person for this issue makes a plan with the Aggrieved for resolving the conflict. That plan should start with a conflict resolution process that includes the other party.
    4. The lead support person facilitates, or arranges facilitation for the conflict resolution process.
    5. The lead support person continues to provide facilitation and mediation until the conflict resolution process is completed to the satisfaction of all parties, or until one or more participants escalates the issue to either an Appeal or a Discipline process.

 

  1. If the issue has still not been resolved to the satisfaction of the Aggrieved…
    1. If the issue cannot be resolved to the satisfaction the Aggrieved, and it relates to one or more specific individuals, it becomes a Discipline process.

 

  1. If the issue cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of the Aggrieved, and the issue relates to working conditions or Aptivate policy generally, the Aggrieved may appeal to the Monthly Management Meeting (MMM).
    1. The Aggrieved may choose an Advocate to accompany her during every meeting or conversation of the Appeal process. That Advocate may be a trade union representative, trade union official, or a member of Aptivate.
    2. The Aggrieved informs the Secretary of the MMM and participants in the Grievance process that she wants to Appeal to the MMM.
  • The Secretary of the MMM adds the Grievance to the next MMM agenda as a high-priority issue.
  1. The Facilitator of the MMM discusses the Grievance with all participants. If the Facilitator has been part of the Grievance process up to this point, the Facilitator should choose another person to facilitate during the relevant agenda item.
  2. The MMM considers the Grievance and the Appeal, and makes a decision about how to resolve the issue.

 

 

Discipline Process

  1. THE ISSUE. An Aptivate member of staff (employee, contractor, or volunteer) has reason to believe that another member of staff is not fulfilling their duties, and that this has significant deleterious effect on the organization (e.g. absence in violation of holiday and sick-leave policies, workplace harassment, inadequate performance to agreed standards, offending clients, drunken burglary, bigotry, inability to resolve grievances effectively).
  2. LAUNCHING A DISCIPLINE PROCESS.
    1. WRITING IT UP. The member of staff that becomes aware of the Issue should write down an account of the issue as best they understand it, and describe how the issue impacts various members of Aptivate and our clients — making it clear why this issue is significant and needs to be resolved. Substantial impact on the person writing up the issue is acceptable grounds.
    2. SHARING IT WITH PEOPLE. The member of staff that becomes aware of the issue and writes it up should share the written account with a member of the People working group.
    3. The member of the People working group who receives the Discipline notice adds the issue to the tracking log for such issues, and either identifies herself as the person managing support for this issue, or explicitly agrees with another People member that that person will become the lead support person for this issue, and identifies this person to the reporting member of staff.
    4. If the complaint is serious enough to have legal implications for Aptivate, the People working group will report the issue to the Directors.
    5. CHOOSING THE DISCIPLINARY PANEL. The person managing support for this issue arranges a Disciplinary Panel, ordinarily consisting of one member of the People working group and one member of the Coordination working group, through discussion with those groups, and one other member of Aptivate.
      1. Where the People or Coordination working group or its members are named in the Issue, two members may be chosen from the other Working Group.
      2. If either the person(/s) named or the person raising the issue objects to the selected panel, they may request a change of panel members. If the various parties can not reach an agreement within a week after the issue is first logged, then the choice of panel members becomes an agenda item at the Monthly Management Meeting.
  • If no panel is chosen at the MMM, then the panel shall consist of all current company directors not named in the Issue.
  1. INVESTIGATING THE ISSUE The Disciplinary Panel will do what is necessary to investigate the issue as quickly as it reasonably can. This should include (at least) individually interviewing the person who wrote up the Issue, and all people named in the issue. Any person interviewed may choose an Advocate to accompany her during every meeting or conversation of the process. That Advocate may be a trade union representative, trade union official, or a member of Aptivate.
  2. WRITING UP THE INVESTIGATION The Panel should write up the investigation.
  3. DECIDING ON REMEDIES OR RECOMMENDING TERMINATION After writing up the investigation, the panel should use a long-form consent process to decide on remedies. If the remedy proposed is exclusion of one or more members, then the members proposed for exclusion cannot use the argument that the remedy “would prevent them being an effective member of the group” in order to raise a paramount objection. The person raising the issue and all people named in the issue may otherwise participate fully in this process. Each party to the issue may invite one advocate (a member of Aptivate staff or not) to participate in the process. None of the parties to the issue nor their advocates may serve as facilitator.
    1. When an issue first arises, the Panel may choose to make a written warning coupled with an agreement about changes to behavior — the Panel should not feel that distrust or punishment are required.
    2. Remedies should be a clear and realistic plan of action that will resolve the issue
    3. Remedies may include separating the parties
    4. Remedies may include changes in pay, changes in WG membership or roles played by parties to the issue, compulsory training, or any other legal resolution.
    5. Remedies should include a timeline for expected progress and a review date.
    6. In severe and urgent cases, remedies may include termination of one or more parties to the issue, including potentially the person who wrote up the issue.
    7. (APPEAL) If either the person raising the issue or any person named in the issue feels that the remedies chosen by the Panel are unjust, unacceptable, illegal, or unlikely to actually resolve the issue, they may appeal the decision of the Panel to the MMM. If the MMM actively makes an alternate resolution, that resolution shall be binding. If the MMM does not make an alternate resolution, then the decision of the Panel shall be binding.
  4. IMPLEMENTING REMEDIES The Panel shall be responsible for monitoring the implementation of its plan, in addition to any other agreed implementation or monitoring framework.
  5. REVIEW At the time set for review of the resolution process, the Panel shall meet again and assess the degree of resolution. If the issue is not resolved, the Panel may conduct further investigation as Panel members feel appropriate.
  6. DECIDING ON REMEDIES OR RECOMMENDING TERMINATION After writing up the investigation, the panel should use a long-form consent process to decide on remedies. If the remedy proposed is exclusion of one or more members, then the members proposed for exclusion cannot use the argument that the remedy “would prevent them being an effective member of the group” in order to raise a paramount objection. The person raising the issue and all people named in the issue may otherwise participate fully in this process. Each party to the issue may invite one advocate (a member of Aptivate staff or not) to participate in the process. None of the parties to the issue nor their advocates may serve as facilitator.
    1. If initial clear written agreements about behavior change did not resolve the issue, subsequent remedies should involve more robust changes that do not assume the parties will be able to resolve the issue in their current working environment.
    2. Remedies should be a clear and realistic plan of action that will resolve the issue
    3. Remedies may include separating the parties
    4. Remedies may include changes in pay, changes in WG membership or roles played by parties to the issue, compulsory training, or any other legal resolution.
    5. Remedies should include a timeline for expected progress and a review date.
    6. In severe or urgent cases, remedies may include termination of one or more parties to the issue, including potentially the person who wrote up the issue.
    7. (APPEAL) If either the person raising the issue or any person named in the issue feels that the remedies chosen by the Panel are unjust, unacceptable, illegal, or unlikely to actually resolve the issue, they may appeal the decision of the Panel to the MMM. If the MMM actively makes an alternate resolution, that resolution shall be binding. If the MMM does not make an alternate resolution, then the decision of the Panel shall be binding.
  7. IMPLEMENTING REMEDIES OR TERMINATION The Panel shall repeat the Implementing, Review, Deciding, and if necessary Appeal steps until the issue is resolved. This may involve the termination of one or more parties to the issue.

 

Tom Says.

 

Formal Disciplinary process

 

– At the moment this process talks about a conflict resolution process which is not necessarily the same as a disciplinary process. Unless these are the same thing, and the initial facilitated “conflict resolution” meeting is also the investigation process, this doesn’t clearly define how a formal disciplinary process starts.

 

E.g. according to ACAS, http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=1439 – seems to start with a hearing meeting involving a “manager”. E.g. in our case, we could say that we have an initial investigation process, which formally starts when someone is not satisfied with our less-formal conflict resolution process(es), and informs the people working group that this is the case and they have an outstanding complaint about someone’s behaviour or performance. This may also be a result of someone raising a “flag” in a feedback process.

 

We need to spell out who will do the investigating and decide if there is a disciplinary issue that needs addressing formally, and what happens after that point. This needs to be in accordance with the ACAS guidelines. E.g. :

 

– We have a group of people “the disciplinary working group” – DWG.

– The DWG holds investigative meetings with those involved, hears all points of view and determines amongst themselves whether there is a disciplinary case to be heard against any people involved.

– People need to be informed of their right to be accompanied by a colleague or trade union rep to any disciplinary meeting.

– For anyone where the DWG decides there is a case to answer, the DWG calls them to a formal disciplinary meeting, discusses the situation with them, and at that point decides whether to resolve things informally for now; to give a first written warning; to give a final warning; or to move for immediate dismissal.

– The DWG also decide whether to undertake a review of the situation at some point in the future, with the parties involved getting appropriate support from the organisation during that time.

 

Appeals

 

– An employee can always appeal against the decision made about them.

 

– Further on appeals, we may want to say that someone bringing a complaint can appeal against a panel decision, e.g. a decision to not follow a disciplinary process in that case (?)

 

Reviews

 

– at a point of review, the panel in effect carry out another investigation. If the person’s behaviour or performance is not sufficiently improved, then the DWG decide whether to issue a first or final written warning, or to move for dismissal.

 

Absence

 

Absence is another legitimate reason for disciplinary processes. We could combine this with our absence policy. Maybe stuff in contract is ok as it is, would be good to check, maybe combine it here and reference from contract.

 

Other processes that could help

 

In our documentation of the conflict resolution process, we could also mention stuff that might help move disciplinary processes along. Maybe these are:

 

– bringing forward appraisal process to get wider feedback from the organisation

– use planning to help move things along, e.g. plan for time to have people to pair-work with one or more of the people involved to be able to give reasonable evaluation and / or third party assistance if required. Plan for more relaxed iterations to allow time to deal with issues.