Resolving Grievances and Disputes

ConflictGrievances and disputes which cannot be resolved in the workplace come under the jurisdiction of judicial bodies and tribunals whose function is to conciliate and arbitrate such matters.


This can be very costly, time consuming and have a negative impact on the organisation by affecting productivity and the moral of workers, which of course should be avoided at all costs.


Employees should have access to internal processes which record, resolve and follow-up on any grievances or disputes.

When an employee has an issue or grievance there should be a process in place to involve consultation and negotiation with their supervisor, OHS committees, HSR or even a HR representative. Any complaints, grievances or issues relating to safety should be recorded and each step in the resolution process should also be recorded. The elected safety representative should be involved in representing the employee and to act as the communication link between employer and employee. Where problems are identified workers can take their concerns to their immediate manager who will pass this information on to the committee or the HSR. It is then the role of the committee or HSR to investigate and consult with the workers to evaluate the seriousness of the issues and work with management to resolve the problem.

Discrimination or harassment of any kind, vilification, victimisation, bullying and excessive stress levels are all seen as health risks. An employer or PCUB may be liable for discrimination or harassment which occurs in the workplace unless it can be proven that they took all reasonable steps to avoid the unlawful conduct in question. This means that they have done as much as possible to prevent discrimination, harassment etc from occurring in the first place and have provided an effective, formal procedure that is available to all employees. If a grievance cannot be resolved within the workplace this process may ensure that the issue is clarified and discussed before any formal tribunal hearings take place. If the matter does escalate to a formal hearing the tribunal will look at what steps had been taken and may order that they be taken before it proceeds.

As is usually the case in Occupational Health and Safety it is important to record, monitor and evaluate, and grievances and disputes are no different to a manual handling hazard in that respect. Supporting the OHS resolution process will provide timely resolution of OHS issues and keep your organisation safe from costly conciliation and tribunals.

About the Author

Safety Concepts is an online resource providing up to date insights and covering issues in the field of Workplace Safety.

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