Employees need an opportunity to express their dissatisfaction, and having a grievance policy can ensure that their concerns are heard. A formal grievance policy can send the message that a business respects the individual, yet has a policy for dealing with issues fairly.
With a formal grievance policy, complaints from employees follow a method for reporting that ensures the proper authority receives the concern. This includes minor concerns, such as disagreements or irritations. A grievance policy also applies to more significant problems, such as workplace harassment, sexual harassment, or employee abuse from management.
A complaint becomes a grievance when there is some level of or a feeling of injustice experienced by one or more employees. The affected employee or employees must address the concern formally, usually verbally or in writing, and it must relate, in some way to the operations or policies of the business.
The difference between a complaint and a grievance is defined by who is affected by the problem. In situations where one or more workers are facing some type of struggle with overtime, leave, pay, work assignment seniority, or discharge, the problem becomes a grievance.
In all situations, the employer should present a process of dealing with grievances at the start of the employment contract. The grievance policy should also encourage employees to share these feelings openly and without negative recourse.