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Grievance procedures for academic staff

Grievance procedures for academic staff

General | Procedure for an individual grievance | Procedure for a group grievance |
Attendance at grievance hearings (group and individual) | Relation between the grievance and disciplinary procedures

Definitions

  • Unless stated otherwise "staff member" in this procedure refers to an employee on academic staff conditions of service.
  • "Day", for the purpose of determining time periods in this procedure, means any day except Saturday, Sundays, statutory public holidays and University holidays.
  • "Management" means the relevant HOD, Dean, Vice-Chancellor or nominee with whom the grievance is lodged.
  1. General
    1. A grievance is any dissatisfaction and/or feeling of injustice in connection with a staff member's work and/or employment situation (other than conditions of service and salary range, and other than arising from disciplinary action) which is brought to the attention of the relevant authorities.
    2. No staff member may be victimised as a result of his/her raising a grievance.
    3. The intention of the policy is that grievances be resolved at the earliest stage possible and as quickly as possible. The time periods specified below are maximum time periods, to be utilised to the full only where the complexity of the grievance requires the full use thereof.
    4. Where it is impracticable to address a grievance within the time limit set out in the procedure, an extension can be agreed between the staff member lodging the grievance and the chair of the hearing. Such an extension must be recorded in writing and signed by both parties.
    5. All time periods refer to full working days.
    6. If the staff member who initiates this grievance procedure fails to pursue the complaint through the channels provided for, it must be assumed either that he/she abides by the resolution reached by that stage, or that the complaint had no substance.
    7. A member of staff with a grievance may be assisted throughout the procedure by either a representative from the Academics' Union or any other UCT staff member acting as his/her representative.
    8. Where a staff member's (or group of staff members') grievance arises from allegations of racism, racial discrimination or racial harassment, he/she/they must follow the procedure outlined in the University policy on racism and racial harassment. Where a grievance arises out of allegations of sexual harassment, the staff member/s must follow the procedure outlined in the policy and procedure on sexual harassment.
    9. Any decisions made must be accompanied by relevant reasons.
    10. From stage two in this procedure the University's representative or the member of staff may request that the grievance be referred to the University's Mediation Policy. The mediation is voluntary and will take place only if both parties agree. If there is agreement to mediation, the grievance procedure will be put on hold whilst the mediation takes place. In the event that no mutually acceptable solution is reached through the mediation process, the procedure will be reconvened from where it was put on hold. For full details, see the University's Mediation Policy.
  2. Procedure for an individual grievance
    1. Stage one (Head of Department)

      If any member of staff wishes to raise a grievance, he/she must informally approach his/her immediate senior at which point an attempt must be made to resolve the grievance at this level. Should the grievance relate to the actions of the HOD, the staff member must in the normal course of events approach the HOD in an attempt to seek a resolution of the matter. If the staff member so wishes, he/she may obtain the assistance of a representative. Two days will be allowed for this stage.

    2. Stage two (Dean of faculty)

      If the grievance has not been resolved informally, the staff member may take the grievance further and formalise the process by making written representations to the Dean of the faculty. The Dean is obliged to consider mediation of the grievance in accordance with the University's Mediation Policy. The staff member must send a copy of such a representation to his/her HOD, and a copy to the Employee Relations section of the Human Resources Department, both within three days of the end of stage one. Within two days of receipt of such representations, a meeting of the following people must be convened by the Dean to whom the written representations were sent:

      1. a chairperson (Dean or his/her nominee more senior than the HOD)
      2. the staff member lodging the grievance
      3. the staff member's representative (if requested by the staff member)
      4. the staff member against whom the grievance is lodged
      5. the staff member's HOD
      6. a representative from the Human Resources Department

      From the date of this meeting, up to three days will be allowed for a resolution to be achieved before proceeding to the next stage.

      The chairperson's decision signifies the end of stage two. Within a further three days the chairperson must complete his/her report on the grievance hearing proceedings, as well as his/her proposal towards resolving the grievance. A copy of the chairperson's report must be sent to all parties concerned.

    3. Stage three (Vice-Chancellor)

      In the three days following the end of stage two, should the staff member wish to take the grievance further, he/she must make written representations to this effect to the Vice-Chancellor, sending a copy to the Employee Relations section. The Vice-Chancellor or the Vice-Chancellor's nominee must review the case. If the Vice-Chancellor appoints a nominee, the staff member with the grievance and his/her representative (if applicable) must be advised accordingly. The Vice-Chancellor or his/her representative is obliged to consider mediation of the grievance in accordance with the University's Mediation Policy. If deemed necessary by the Vice-Chancellor (or nominee) in order to establish further facts about the case, a meeting must be convened within five days of receipt of representations pertaining to the grievance. The meeting must consist of:

      1. the chairperson (the Vice-Chancellor or the Vice-Chancellor's nominee)
      2. the staff member lodging the grievance
      3. the staff member's representative (if requested by the staff member)
      4. the chairperson of the stage two hearing, and, if this chairperson requires it, the staff member's HOD
      5. a representative from the Human Resources Department
      6. any other staff member(s) the chairperson wishes to invite in order to facilitate the resolution of the grievance

      From the date of this meeting five days will be allowed for a resolution to be achieved. The chairperson's decision signifies the end of the grievance procedure. Within a further five days the chairperson must complete his/her report on the grievance hearing proceedings and his/her proposal to resolve the grievance. A copy of the chairperson's report must be sent to all parties concerned.

  3. Procedure for a group grievance
    1. Where it is evident that two or more staff members have the same grievance, the staff members may elect to have the grievance dealt with as one.
    2. Where practicalities militate against a group grievance being dealt with as a group, the group must elect a spokesperson(s) that will act on behalf of the group. It is assumed that the spokesperson(s) will carry the full mandate of the group they represent and that any decisions they take in respect of the resolution of the grievance are binding on all the individual members of such a group.
    3. One of the following procedures may be chosen:
      1. Where it is evident that two or more staff members (i.e. academic staff from the same dept/unit) have the same grievance, it may be addressed via the grievance procedure detailed in section two of this procedure. Alternatively, the procedure detailed below may be followed.
      2. Where it is evident that two or more staff members have the same grievance but the staff members concerned do not come from the same dept/unit, the grievance may be taken, as an agenda item, to the working group on academic staff matters.
      3. Notwithstanding the procedure in 3c i or 3c ii in the case of a group grievance, a meeting may be convened within three days of the Dean/HOD and the Employee Relations section being sent written representations pertaining to the grievance. This meeting must comprise the elected spokesperson(s) (as defined in 3b) and their representative (if requested by staff members) and management representatives.
  4. Attendance at grievance hearings (group and individual)

    A grievance will often involve a complaint by one person against another. Handling the relationship between complainant and the person complained against requires care. This is especially so when these two people are in a close working relationship (e.g. as members of a team) or in a line relationship. The person complained against should not be required to attend a grievance hearing with all parties present against his/her will. If necessary, the chairperson will have to hear the complainant and the person complained against separately. Where possible this should be avoided. In cases of close working relationships or line relationships, a meeting with both parties present (if necessary a second round, after individual meetings) may be insisted upon by the chairperson as part of what he/she sees as necessary for facilitating a resolution of the grievance.

  5. Relation between the grievance and disciplinary procedures
    1. Grievances are often the result of a misunderstanding between two or more parties and misconduct is not necessarily involved. Should, however, a grievance be brought to the attention of management and, after investigation, management is satisfied that there is evidence of misconduct on the part of the staff member who is the subject of the grievance, the matter must be handled in terms of the disciplinary procedure. The staff member who lodged the grievance may be asked to be a witness at a disciplinary enquiry. The decision to invoke the disciplinary procedure will normally mark the end of the grievance procedure.
    2. If on application either by the grievant or the person grieved against, the relevant Dean or the Vice-Chancellor is satisfied that the grievance procedure should continue simultaneously or be revived at the conclusion of the disciplinary proceedings, it may be so ordered.

Page last updated: 19 June 2012