Disciplinary & grievance procedural easements

27 Mar 2020

DWP Coronavirus HR policy guidance, and related guidance, has introduced procedural easements for discipline and grievance following consultation with PCS. All content on the DWP coronavirus intranet pages is being updated on an on-going basis in response to updated NHS and Government guidance and proposals from PCS for improvements. This means that paragraph numbers may also change.

Paragraph 30 of current DWP Coronavirus HR policy guidance confirms:

34. Managers should be flexible and practicable in applying deadlines in procedures. Discretion should be applied, based on the circumstances, to allow reasonable additional time for things to get done in the current situation. This might apply to deadlines for submitting grievances, notice of meetings and time allowed for trade union reps. or note-takers to be obtained. In line with the latest guidance (link is external) (link is external), travel between sites for meetings should be avoided, with participants expected to agree telephone, VC or Skype meetings.

See DWP Intranet for Coronavirus HR Policy guidancehttps://intranet.dwp.gov.uk/section/working-dwp/news-and-communications/dwp-news/coronavirus

Questions and answers for line managers

Current paragraph 18 of DWP Coronavirus Questions and answers for line managers covers: How should I manage HR processes such as discipline and grievance, do we need to follow the normal procedures?

Normal procedures for HR processes such as attendance management, discipline and grievance and should be followed as closely as possible, however due to employees being absent from work or working at home it may be difficult to comply with the timescales set out in the policies. For example, it may not be possible to arrange a face-to-face meeting or for an employee to find a TU rep to accompany them to a formal meeting within the usual timescale.

Managers should be flexible and pragmatic in applying the policies and explore alternative, agreed ways or working such as holding meetings by phone or Skype, allowing longer timescales to arrange meetings or allowing an employee to appeal against a decision. Managers can contact the CSHR Casework team on 0345 241 5352 for advice.

Common line manager scenarios

Current paragraph 19 of DWP Coronavirus Common line manager scenarios covers:

19. My employee cannot arrange a TU rep to attend a grievance meeting on the appointed day or within 5 days of the appointed day. What should I do?  

You should be flexible and practicable in applying deadlines in any procedures, not just Grievance. Your discretion should be applied, based on the circumstances, to allow reasonable additional time for things to get done in the current situation. This might apply to deadlines for submitting grievances, notice of meetings and time allowed for trade union reps. or note-takers to be obtained. To the greatest extent possible, travel between sites for meetings should be avoided, with participants expected to agree telephone, VC or Skype meetings.

PCS advice for Branches

PCS and DWP expect managers to apply reasonable flexibilities to normal procedures during the coronavirus outbreak. All flexibilities must continue to apply basic standards for procedural fairness, including natural justice. The HR Decision Maker’s Guide and Appeal Manager’s Guide provide guidance for these basic principles:

  • Natural justice – the rules of natural justice require that a fair process is followed i.e. that the employee knows the allegations and is given a fair opportunity to state their case (HR Decision Makers guide, Glossary 8)
  • Consistency must not be confused with uniformity - decisions must be consistent with policy and comply with procedures to ensure they are lawful, reasonable and fair. However, consistency must not be confused with uniformity. Decision making which aims to produce identical outcomes can be fundamentally unfair when making a decision in an individual employee’s case. (HR Decision Makers guide, paragraph 3)

PCS advises members they should contact their local PCS representative for advice, support and representation should they have a problem resolving a work related issue in their personal case. Many cases will usually be about how DWP guidance, available to you on the Intranet, should be applied in practice in an individual member’s personal case. PCS will make every effort to support you with PCS Briefings on new developments and key issues. You should check the Intranet for up to date Coronavirus HR Policy guidance:

https://intranet.dwp.gov.uk/section/working-dwp/news-and-communications/dwp-news/coronavirus

PCS thanks you for the work you are doing to support members during this worldwide crisis.

PCS may be contacted by email when there is an urgent need to do so via: leeds@pcs.org.uk

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