A grievance is a sign of the employees’ discontent with job and its nature. It is caused due to the difference between employee expectation and management practice.
Beach defines a grievance as, ‘any dissatisfaction or feeling of injustice in connection with one’s employment situation that is brought to the notice of the management.
Jucius defines a grievance as ‘any discontent or dissatisfaction, whether exposed or not, whether valid or not, arising out of anything connected with the company which an employee thinks, believes or even feels to be unfair, unjust and inequitable’.
A grievance is a problem submitted by an employee or by a few employees of different types. It may be conce4ring a situation or may likely to affect the terms and conditions of employment of one worker or a few workers.
In the Indian context, ‘grievance’ may be said to “the representation by a worker, a group of workers or the unions to the management relation to the terms and conditions of employment, breach of the freedom of association or the provisions of standing orders or non-implementation of the Government orders, conciliation agreeme4nts or adjudicators’ awards”. It may also include representation against non-compliance with provision of a collective agreement in an establishment where it has been signed.
Grievances usually result in definite and considerable loses to employee morale, efficiency and productivity. The accumulation of grievance leads to strikes, lock outs and other forms of conflicts. Therefore, proper disposal of grievances deserves special and adequate consideration in any programme of harmonizing industrial relations.
Areas of Grievances
Grievances resulting from working conditions
- Poor physical conditions of work place.
- Lack of proper tools, machines and equipments.
- Frequent changes in schedules or procedures.
- Rigid production standards
- Improper matching of the worker with the job.
- Poor relationship with the supervisor.
Grievances resulting from management policy and practices
- Poor payment
- Lack of job security
- Inadequate benefits such as medical benefits, leave travel concession etc.
- Leave facilities
- Lack of career planning and development
- Hostility towards labour union
- Defective leadership style
- Communication gap
Grievances resulting from alleged violations of
- Violation collective bargaining agreement
- Violation of Central/State laws
- Violation of common rules
Grievances resulting from personal maladjustment
- Over ambition
- Excessive self-esteem
Methods of Indentifying Grievances
The following methods can help the employer to identify the grievances:
- Directive observation: Knowledge of human behaviour is requisite quality of every good manager. From the changed behaviour of employees, he should be able to snuff the causes of grievances. This he can do without its knowledge to the employee. This method will give general pattern of grievances. In addition to normal routine, periodic interviews with the employees, group meetings and collective bargaining are the specific occasions where direct observation can help in unfolding the grievances.
- Grip boxes: The boxes (like suggestion boxes) are placed at easily accessible spots to most employees in the organisation. The employees can file anonymous complaints about their dissatisfaction in these boxes. Due to anonymity, the fear of managerial action is avoided. Moreover management’s interest is also limited to the free and fair views of employees.
- Open door policy: Most democratic by nature, the policy is preached most but practiced very rarely in Indian organizations. But this method will be more useful in absence of an effective grievance procedure, otherwise the organisation will do well to have a grievance procedure. Open door policy demands that the employees, even at the lowest rank, should have easy access to the chief executive to get his grievances redressed.
- Exit interview: Higher employee turnover is a problem of every organisation. Employees leave the organisation either due to dissatisfaction or for better prospects. Exit interviews may be conducted to know the reasons for leaving the job. Properly conducted exit interviews can provide significant information about the strengths and weaknesses of the organisation and can pave way for further improving the management policies for its labour force.
Principles or Guidelines for Grievance Handling
- In handling grievances, a considerable amount of time must be spent in talking to employees; gathering data from them and passing on various types of information. Such talks to be most effective, should conform to definite patterns and adhere to well tested rules.
- The manager must seek to develop an attitude towards employees that should be helpful in gaining their confidence. The management should also display a sincere interest in the problems of employees and their constructive willingness to be to help to them with a view to gain not only their confidence but also their utmost loyal by and genuine cooperation.
- The procedure adopt by the management in handling the grievances must be apparent.
- Grievances should be handled in terms of their total effect on the organisation and not solely their immediate or individual effect.
Steps in handling grievances
It is important that grievance must be handled in a systematic manner. The following steps should be taken in handling grievances:
- Defining, describing or expressing the nature of the grievances as clearly and fully as possible;
- Gathering all facts that serve to explain when, how, where, to whom and why the grievance occurred;
- Establishing tentative solutions or answers to the grievances;
- Gathering additional information to check the validity of the solutions and thus ascertain the best possible solution;
- Applying the solution, and
- Following up the case to see that it has been handled satisfactorily and the trouble has been eliminated.
Grievance handling procedures
Grievance procedure is the most significant channel through which dissatisfaction of employees can be communicated to management. A grievance procedure is an ordered multistep process that the employer and employee jointly use to redress grievances and resolve disputes that arise. Thus a formal procedure which attempts to resolve the differences of parties involved, in an orderly, peaceful and expeditious manner, may be defined as grievance procedure or grievance redressal machinery. The steps in this machinery vary from organisation to organisation.
For handling grievances, as a first step, the management is required to designate the persons for each of the various departments to be approached by the works and the department heads for handling grievances as the second step. A Grievance Committee may also be constituted with representatives of workers and management.
The model grievance producer give the various steps through which a grievance should be processed.
First, the grievance is taken to the departmental representative of the management who has to give an answer within 48 hours. Failing this, the aggrieved worker/ employee can beet the departmental head along with the departmental representative of the management and this step is allotted three days. Above this, the grievance is taken up by the Grievance Committee which should make its recommendations to the manager within seven days. The final decision of the management has to be communicated to the workers or employee concerned within three days of the Grievance Committee’s recommendations. If the employee is not satisfied, he can make an appeal for revision and the management has to communicate its decision within a week. In the case of non-settlement, the grievance may be referred to voluntary arbitration. The formal conciliation machinery will not be invoked till the final decision of the top management has been found unacceptable by the aggrieved employee.
In the case of any grievance arising out of discharge or dismissal, the workman or employee has the right to appeal either to the dismissing authority or to a senior authority specific by the management within a week from the date of dismissal or discharge.
Although the grievance procedure gives the employees opportunity to raise their grievances to the highest possible level of management, yet they should be resolved as close as possible to their source. The main object of grievance procedure is to resolve the grievance at earliest possible stage. The management must convince itself that justice is not only done, but seen to be done and the presence of a trade union representative with the aggrieved party helps to ensure fair play not only for the employee concerned, but also for his management.
Sandoz (India) Limited
Grievance Settlement Procedure
- Any aggrieved employee may approach his immediate supervisor for the redressal of any complaint regarding his work, conditions pertaining to his work, etc. The supervisor will look into the complaint, discuss with his departmental head if necessary, who will, in turn, consult the Personal Department if necessary and give a reply to the aggrieved employee within a period of 3 days to one week.
- If the aggrieved employee is not satisfied with the reply received from his supervisor, he may approach his departmental head, who will, in turn, investigate the matter personally and give a reply within a further period of 3 days to one week.
- If the employee concerned is still not satisfied, he may approach the Factory Manager either personally or in writing for the redressal of his complaint. The Factory Manager will look into the complaint and the reply given by him will be final in the matter. Such a reply in given generally within a week.
- If the employee still continues to be aggrieved, he may approach the Management through the Union when the matter is taken up at the Union-Management forum for settlement on tripartite basis or by adjudication/ arbitration.
- If it is necessary for the workman to leave the work place on a call from any authority under this procedure, previous permission from his immediate superior should be obtained.
- If a grievance arises out of an order given by the Management, the said order shall be complied with before the workman concerned invokes the procedure laid down for redressal of grievances.