Localities with 15 or more employees are required by VA Code section § 15.2-1506 to have a grievance procedure for employees that “affords an immediate and fair method for the resolution of disputes which may arise between the public employer and its employees…”
A grievance procedure is a process through which your employee can bring their workplace concerns to the attention of upper management. The process is more formal than mediation, and has steps and timeframes that must be followed.
Not following these procedures could cause the employee to forfeit their rights to the grievance process.
A grievance can have up to four phases: (1) the management resolution steps; (2) qualification for hearing; (3) hearing; and (4) review of the hearing decision. Not all grievances are qualified for hearing.
For example, under the grievance statues, grievances that relate solely to layoffs, transfers, assignments, or the content of personnel policies cannot proceed to a hearing. On the other hand, some issues are automatically qualified for hearing, such as formal discipline or dismissal for unsatisfactory performance.
Even if an employee’s concern is about an issue that cannot be qualified for hearing, many grievances result in resolution during the management steps, without a grievance hearing.
Employee complaints are inevitable, but you can reduce their frequency by having an open-door policy, encouraging employees to discuss any concerns with their supervisor and being transparent in the application of all your policies and procedures.
Training supervisors in basic employment laws is also beneficial; ensuring they will not misstep when managing staff.
VRSA offers you several sources to assist with the grievance process, including:
In addition, your Public Officials Liability policy includes an endorsement providing members the opportunity for the grievance procedure to be reviewed by an experienced employment practices attorney.
The goal is to avoid or mitigate litigation costs and actions. In the event the grievance procedure does manifest into an action, the attorney is familiar with the case from the onset. Ultimately, this helps to reduce our members’ cost of risk.
For more information on employee grievance procedures, contact VRSA Director of Human Resources Services Tina Stevens at 800-963-6800.