What is involved in a grievance procedure?

Friday, April 21st, 2017

Lucindi Pretorius


Grievance procedures are instituted by employees who are aggrieved by any aspect of their service relationship, who are experiencing problems and are directly affected by them. Grievance procedures are subject to time frames. All employers must obey and comply with these time frames.


Definition of a grievance

A grievance must be taken as any measure of dissatisfaction experienced by a staff member in respect of his or her employer, work environment, colleagues or any aspect of his or her service relationship with the employer.

Basic principles

Every staff member, regardless of his or her job level, has the right and opportunity to state his or her grievances in the workplace without fear of victimisation.

Grievances can be addressed and resolved by:

  1. providing facilities for an employee to appeal to higher authority should the staff member feel that his or her grievance was not considered with the necessary insight or empathy;
  2. giving staff members free access to staff associations for advice and assistance in settling grievances;
  3. making this procedure available to all staff members;
  4. the consistent, fair and quick handling of grievances;
  5. handling it at the lowest possible level;
  6. handling grievances confidentially.

 Purpose of procedure

The purpose of the procedure is to enable every staff member to have his or her grievance:

  1. brought to the attention of immediate heads and, if necessary, higher authority by means of a formal channel;
  2. handled and resolved at the earliest possible opportunity; and
  3. resolved as fairly as possible in the circumstances.

Procedural steps to be followed

There are various steps that an employee should follow to institute a grievance procedure:

  1. First of all a grievance should be submitted in writing to his or her head or be taken up with the person appointed by the head to handle grievances in his or her absence.
  2. Should it not be possible to have the grievance resolved by the immediate head or his or her delegated person in his or her absence, or should the relevant grievance concern the staff member’s immediate head or his or her delegated person or somebody with the same seniority as the staff member’s immediate head or his or her delegated person, the staff member may refer the matter to the next higher management level with notice to his or her immediate head or his or her delegated person.
  3. Should the parties not have come to an agreement or should the grievance concern a person at the next higher level of seniority above the staff member’s immediate head or his or her delegated person, the grievance is referred to the third management level.
  4. Should the third management level not resolve the grievance to the satisfaction of the staff member concerned, or should the grievance concern a member at the third management level, management or the staff member will refer it in writing to the level that is higher than the third management level.


Each staff member may be assisted by a staff member of his or her choice.


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