Our policy for handling staff complaints used to be ‘use common sense’. We did find younger staff would come and moan about how they are doing all the work and other staff said this and that to them. Handling staff was very much like handling our children/teenagers. Much along the lines of “don’t sweat the small stuff”.
This is a mistake and leaves the business vulnerable to employee claims anytime in the future.
What is a proper process for handling staff complaints?
A great place to find information about handing staff complaints is the Australian Human Rights Commission website. This has good practice guidelines for internal complaint processes. It is worthwhile looking at those resources and I used them as the basis for the Grievance and Complaints policy that you will find on in the policy templates in SmartDentist.
Basically we have the same policy for EVERY employee complaint.
If an employee makes a complaint to any 3rd party (e.g. not the person that they have a grievance with) then the complaint will be documented and dealt with per our policy.
The grievance and Complaints policy is stuck on the wall of the staff room and it is not negotiable.
In a recent case before Fairwork an employee complained about a fellow worker making a comment that she found offensive. In isolation the comment can be read as “flippant” but later comments by the same person were found to be sexual harassment (both by the firm and by Fairwork). However because the original complaint was never presented to the offending employee to explain or defend, Fairwork determined that this was unfair and this was one of the reasons Fairwork awarded the sacked employee money (~$8000) even though Fairwork found that sacked employees behavior was grounds for dismissal!
Isn’t being an employer fun?
Add the grievance and internal complaints policy to your subscription today and let staff know about it. Stick it up in the lunch room and make sure everyone is clear about what will happen.
My husband tells me I should stop reading Fairwork cases as I am just depressing him.