60. Grievance Resolution

  1. Professional staff collective agreement
    1. Operation of clause
      1. This clause applies to complaints and grievances about issues relating to employment.
      2. This clause should be read in conjunction with the University’s policies that refer to harassment, bullying, unlawful discrimination or vilification. This clause does not cover the resolution of disputes relating to the correct application, implementation or interpretation of the terms of this Agreement, as these disputes are industrial disputes settled in accordance with clause 61. This clause does not apply to grievances between students and employees. Decisions relating to appointment of staff, or decisions about which there is a designated alternative appeal/review procedure, will not be covered by this clause.
      3. A grievance may relate to:
        • an employee’s workplace;
        • a decision affecting an employee’s employment;
        • unfair treatment;
        • the workplace or workplace related behaviour of another employee, including:
          • bullying;
          • harassment;
          • unlawful discrimination or vilification.
      4. A grievance does not relate to:
        • any issue which may be dealt with through other provisions of this Agreement, by Fair Work Commission, by a Court or by a statutory authority;
        • any interpersonal dispute which does not relate to employment issues.
      5. A grievance may not be notified later than three (3) months after the date on which the action (last action or pattern of actions) is alleged to have taken place.
    2. Definitions
      1. Complaint means an informal concern expressed by an employee about an issue relating to their employment.
      2. Complainant means the employee(s) who has/have lodged a complaint or grievance.
      3. Grievance means a formal complaint by an employee(s) about a problem or concern in relation to something affecting their employment with the University, which the employee/s is seeking to resolve.
      4. Investigating Officer means a relevant senior employee of UNE not associated with the grievance who investigates a grievance. An Investigating Officer may utilise any additional resources as deemed appropriate to complete the investigation.
      5. Principles of Natural Justice means procedural fairness, which means adherence to all processes set out in this clause; the keeping of appropriate records in confidence; and the provision in a timely manner to all relevant parties of allegations, evidence, documentation, and reasons for decisions.

        This means that a respondent to a complaint or grievance must be provided with:

        • the relevant details of the complaint to enable the respondent to formulate a response;
        • the processes as set out in this clause by which the matter is to be resolved;
        • every opportunity to put their case and respond to the complaint during the investigation.
        • the process also includes the following principles of natural justice:
          • the University Member, the Investigating Officer, and the Senior Executive must act impartially and without bias;
          • all parties have the opportunity to provide evidence;
          • only matters of relevance to the complaint or grievance shall be considered; and
          • the complaint or grievance must be dealt with in a timely manner.
      6. Respondent means one or more persons who are the subject of the complainant’s grievance.
      7. Support person means a UNE employee, who is not a practicing solicitor or barrister, and whose role is to support either the complainant or the respondent.
      8. Union representative means a union nominee, who is not a practicing solicitor or barrister, and whose role is to advise and support either the complainant or respondent, and to contribute to the proper handling of a grievance.
      9. University Member means a relevant University Officer who does not have a direct interest in the matter.
  2. Principles
    1. The University is committed to maintaining and developing a harmonious, fair and productive working environment.
    2. In accordance with the principles outlined in this clause, this clause provides the processes to be used for:
      • complaint resolution through informal processes; and
      • formal grievance resolution.
    3. The processes set out in this clause aim to:
      • prevent personal conflicts from becoming entrenched;
      • resolve complaints without unreasonable delay and wherever possible in a conciliatory and effective manner; and
      • conciliate grievances, but where proven not to be possible, then determine the matters formally by following the procedures set out in this clause.
    4. Timelines are outlined throughout this clause; where it is not possible to meet these timelines, an explanation for the delay should be provided within the original timeframe.
    5. Complaint and grievance resolution is an integral part of a supervisor’s duties. It is the primary responsibility of supervisors to identify, respond to and address problems in the workplace and to take all reasonable steps to ensure that victimisation of either a complainant or a respondent does not occur.
    6. The principles of natural justice will apply to all parties.
    7. Confidentiality must be respected in terms of record keeping and disclosure and must be maintained at all times by all parties within the constraints of the need to investigate a grievance fully, and be consistent with the principles of natural justice.
    8. Early resolution of complaints and grievances is encouraged.
    9. Facilitation of a resolution will be done as close to the source as possible.
    10. Complainants and respondents may be accompanied by a support person of their choice at any meeting with the University Member or Investigating Officer or other University Officer where a complaint or grievance is to be discussed.
    11. Parties to a complaint or grievance should engage in the procedures for complaint or grievance resolution in good faith and focus on achieving resolution of the concerns raised.
    12. Victimisation of a complainant, respondent or any other person with a legitimate involvement in a grievance resolution process will not be tolerated by the University.
    13. The University will not tolerate frivolous or vexatious grievances.
    14. If a University Officer forms the opinion that the grievance is of a potentially criminal nature, then the grievance will be referred to the Director, Human Resource Services, who will determine whether the police should be notified.
  3. Procedures
    1. At all stages of these procedures employees will continue to work in accordance with the directions of the University Member.
    2. Where relevant, in the first instance any party to a complaint may choose to meet with a senior officer in Human Resource Services to obtain information about the relevant University policies and procedures and support services available.
  4. Complaint: Informal resolution (Stage 1)
    1. An employee who has a complaint should, where possible, seek resolution of the problem at the earliest time with the respondent(s) directly.
    2. If the complaint cannot be settled in this way by the complainant, then the matter should be referred to their supervisor who will attempt to resolve the matter informally. Where the complaint is against the complainant’s supervisor, the matter should be referred to supervisor of the supervisor.
    3. Only where informal resolution of a complaint is not possible or appropriate should the process be formalised and be dealt with under Formal Grievance: Conciliation.
  5. Formal Grievance: Conciliation (Stage 2)
    1. To seek formal resolution of a grievance, the complainant must submit a completed Staff Grievance Form, along with any associated supporting documentation and evidence, to the University Member, including the following the:
      • nature of the complaint(s);
      • attempts made to resolve the complaint; and
      • complainant’s preferred remedy to resolve the complaint.
    2. In submitting the Staff Grievance Form and supporting material, the complainant accepts that insufficient information provided in the documentation may restrict the ability of the University Member to investigate the complaint fully.
    3. The University Member is not required to provide the respondent with a copy of the Staff Grievance Form, though is required to provide the following:
      • the relevant details of the complaint to enable the respondent to formulate a response in the case of an investigation;
      • all associated documentation and evidence provided by the complainant;
      • a copy of the processes set out in this clause by which the matter is to be resolved;
      • opportunities to put their case and respond to the grievance during the investigation.
    4. The University Member, prior to proceeding to the investigation stage, must hold discussions with both the complainant and respondent (independently or together).
    5. The University Member will aim to hold these discussions with the complainant and the respondent within five (5) working days of receipt of the grievance.
    6. During these discussions, the University Member will:
      • keep a record of proceedings;
      • identify the key concerns of each party; and
      • convey to the complainant and respondent an appropriate course of action to resolve the grievance; and
      • confirm with the complainant if the course of action has resolved the grievance.
    7. Where the steps taken in 60.6.6 result in an agreed resolution between the complainant and the respondent, the University Member shall record on the Staff Grievance Form the outcome and course of action for resolving the grievance, and provide a copy of the form to the complainant and respondent, and record in accordance with UNE records management protocols.
    8. Where the steps taken in 60.6.6 do not result in an agreed resolution, the University Member shall record this on the Staff Grievance Form, including any matters that have been resolved through that process. Then the University Member shall:
      • ask the complainant if they wish to have the grievance investigated using the process set out in Formal Grievance: Investigation. If the complainant agrees in writing, then the University Member will immediately notify the Director, Human Resource Services.
      • provide copies of the Staff Grievance Form to the complainant and the respondent.
      • provide a copy of the Staff Grievance Form and any supporting documentation to the Director, Human Resource Services, for referral to the Staff Grievance Resolution Panel.
  6. Formal Grievance: Investigation (Stage 3)
    1. At the request of the Director, Human Resource Services, the Staff Grievance Resolution Panel will be formed within ten (10) working days and comprise:
      • the Director, Human Resource Services, or nominee; and
      • an employee nominated by the relevant union.
    2. Within five (5) working days, the Staff Grievance Resolution Panel will determine:
      • whether the grievance not be investigated because the Panel has formed the opinion that the grievance is resolved, or frivolous, or trivial, or vexatious, or materially and demonstrably a matter previously dealt with, or not made in good faith, or made directly in reprisal, or would place unreasonable imposition on University resources; or
      • whether the grievance shall be investigated; and
      • the name of the Investigating Officer investigating the grievance; and
      • whether the alleged action/s or behaviours may amount to misconduct or serious misconduct, in which case, the matter will be addressed in accordance with the relevant Collective Agreement’s Misconduct/Serious Misconduct procedures.
    3. In the case of 60.7.2.a, the Staff Grievance Resolution Panel will provide the complainant with the grounds supporting the decision.
    4. The complainant and respondent will be notified of the decision of the Staff Grievance Resolution Panel.
    5. The Investigating Officer will provide the complainant and the respondent with a copy of the processes set out in this clause by which the matter is to be investigated and advise them in writing of:
      • the nature of the grievance;
      • the name of the Investigating Officer investigating the grievance;
      • their opportunity to clarify immediately any matter regarding the grievance.
    6. The Investigating Officer will provide the respondent with the:
    7. full and precise details of the grievance to enable the respondent to formulate a response;
    8. time, date and place for the interview or for participating in a telephone conference instead of attending an interview;
    9. right to be accompanied by a support person;
    10. right to provide a written submission (written submissions must arrive at least one working day prior to the date of the interview as advised in the notice).
    11. The respondent will be granted at least ten (10) working days to prepare for the interview and/or provide a response in writing to the complaint.
    12. Where the respondent fails to attend the interview or participate in a telephone interview and does not provide a written submission, without reasonable explanation, then the Investigating Officer may proceed to determine the matter in the absence of the respondent.
    13. Within ten (10) working days of the interview, the Investigating Officer will provide a report, including recommendations for resolution of the grievance, to the relevant Senior Executive.
  7. Outcome of the Investigation
    1. Within ten (10) working days of receipt of the Investigating Officer’s report, a Senior Executive will respond to the report’s recommendations.
    2. The Senior Executive may recommend that the:
      • Investigating Officer’s recommendations be implemented in full;
      • Investigating Officer’s recommendations be implemented in part;
      • Investigating Officer’s recommendations be set aside;
      • grievance be dismissed.
    3. Where the Senior Executive determines that the alleged action/s or behaviour/s may amount to misconduct or serious misconduct, the matter will be addressed in accordance with the relevant Collective Agreement’s Misconduct/Serious Misconduct procedures.
    4. The decision of the Senior Executive will be recorded on the Staff Grievance Form, a copy provided to the complainant and respondent and recorded in accordance with UNE record management protocols.
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