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Tuesday, May 25, 2010



The concept ‘grievance’ has been defined in several ways by different authorities. Some of the definitions are as follows:

Beach defines a grievance as “any dissatisfaction or feeling of injustice in connection with one’s employment situation that is brought to the notice of the management” , whereas Flippo indicates the grievance as “a type of discontent which must always be expressed . A grievance is usually more formal in character than a complaint. . It can be valid or ridiculous, and must grow out of something connected with company operations or policy. It must involve an interpretation or application of the provisions of the labour contract”.

Jucius defines a grievance a “…..any discontent or dissatisfaction , whether exposed or not, whether valid or not, arising out of anything connected with the company which an employee thinks, believes or even feels to be unfair , unjust or inequitable”.

Need for a Grievance Procedure

Grievance procedure is necessary for any organization due to following reasons:

(1) Most grievances seriously disturb the employees. This may affect their morale,

productivity and their willingness to cooperate with the organization. If an explosive situation develops, this can be promptly attended to if a grievance handling procedure is already in existence.

(2) It is not possible that all the complaints of the employees would be settled by first time supervisors, for these supervisors may not have had a proper training for the purpose, and they may lack authority. Moreover, there may be personality conflicts and other causes as well.

(3) It serves as a check on the arbitrary actions of the management because supervisors know that employees are likely to see to it that their protest does reach the higher management.

(4) It serves as an outlet for employee’s gripes, discontent and frustrations. It acts like a pressure valve on steam boiler. The employees are entitled to legislative,

Executive and judicial protection and they get this protection from the grievance

Redressal procedure, which also acts as a means of upward communication.

The causes of Grievances

The causes of employee grievances include:

· Demands for individual wage adjustment

· Complaints about the incentive system

· Complaints about the job classification

· Complaints against a particular foreman

· Complaints concerning disciplinary measures and procedures

· Objections to the general methods of supervision

· Loose calculation and interpretation of seniority rules and unsatisfactory interpretation of agreement Promotion

· Disciplinary discharge or lay-off

· Transfer for another department or another shift

· Inadequacy of safety and health service/devices

· Non-availability of material in time

· Violation of contracts relating to collective bargaining

· Improper job assignment

· Undesirable or unsatisfactory conditions of work

· Victimization and

· Fines.

Pre-requisites of a Grievance Procedure

The efficiency of a grievance procedure depends upon the fulfillment of certain pre-requisites. These are as follows:

Conformity with Prevailing Legislation

While designing the grievance procedure, due consideration must be given to the existing statutory provisions. In other words , the existing grievance machinery as provided by law may be made use of.


There should be clarity regarding each and every aspect of the grievance procedure. An aggrieved employee must be informed about the person to whom a representation can be made, the form of submission , the time limit for the redressal of grievance etc. Similarly, the redressing authority should be very clear about what is expected from him, what measures he can take, the limits within which he should resort to an action etc.


The grievance procedure should be simple. Every employee must understand different stages of the procedure, the forms to be filled up, the witness required etc If there are too many stages in the procedure, too many forms to be filled up, too much going around etc., the very purpose of the procedure is defected. Instead of resorting to the formal procedure, an employee may ignore it.


The promptness with which a grievance is processed adds further to the success of the grievance procedure. Since just delayed is justice denied, the procedure should aim at rapid disposal of the grievances.


The success of procedure also depends upon imparting training to the supervisors and union representatives in handling grievances.


The successful working of a grievance procedure depends upon a proper follow-up by the personnel department. The department should periodically review the procedure and introduce the essential structural changes making it more effective.

Steps in the Grievance Procedure

Identify grievances: employee dissatisfaction or grievances should be identified by the management if they are not expressed. If they are ventilated, management has to promptly aacknowledge them.

Define correctly: the management has to define the problem properly and accurately after it is identified/acknowledged.

Collect data: complete information should be collected from all parties relating to the grievance. Information should be classified as facts, data, opinions etc.

Analyse and solve: the information should be analyse , alternative solutions to the problem should be developed and the best solution should be selected.

Prompt redressal: the grievances should be redressed by implementing the solution.

Implement and follow up: implementation of the solution must be followed up at every stage in order to ensure effective and speedy implementation.

Model Grievance Procedure

The Model Grievance Procedure suggested by the National Commission on Labour involves six successive time-bound steps each leading to the next, in case of dissatisfaction. The aggrieved worker in the first instance will approach the foreman and tell him of his grievance orally. The foreman has to redress his grievance and if the worker is not satisfied with this redressal , he can approach the supervisor .the supervisor has to provide an answer within 48hours. At this stage the worker approaches the Head of the Department who has to give an answer within 3days. If the Departmental Head fails to give an answer or if the worker is not satisfied with his answer, the worker may appeal to the Grievances Committee, consisting of the representatives of the employer and employees. The recommendations of this committee should be communicated to the Manager within seven days from the date of the grievance reaching it. Unanimous decisions, if any , of the committee shall be implemented by the management . If there is no unanimity, the views of the members of the committee shall be placed before the manager for his decision. The manger has to take a decision and inform the worker within 3 days.

A union official may accompany the worker to the manager for discussion and if no decision is arrived at this stage, both the union and management may refer the grievance to voluntary arbitration within a week of the receipt of the managements decision. The worker in actual practice, may not resort to all the above mentioned steps.

Model Grievance Procedure


Time frame

Appeal against within a week


Grievance committee





3 days

7 days unanimous



Guidelines for handling Grievance

The following guidelines may help a supervisor while dealing with grievances. He need not follow all these steps in every case. It is sufficient to keep these views in mind while handling grievances

· Treat each case as important and get the grievance in writing.

· Talk to the employee directly. Encourage him to speak the truth. Give him a patient hearing.

· Discuss in a private place. Ensure confidentiality, if necessary.

· Handle each case within a time frame.

· Examine company provisions in each case. Identify violations, if any. Do not hold back the remedy if the company is wrong. Inform your superior about all grievances.

· Get all relevant facts about the grievance. Examine the personal record of the aggrieved worker. See whether any witnesses are available. Visit the work area. The idea is to find where things have gone wrong and who is at fault.

· Gather information from the union representative, what he has to say, what he wants, etc. give short replies, uncovering the truth as well as provisions. Treat him properly.

· Control your emotions, your remarks and behavior.

· Maintain proper records and follow up the action taken in each case.

· Be proactive, if possible. Companies like VSP, NALCO actually invite workers to ventilate the grievances freely, listen to the other side patiently, explain the reasons why the problems arose and redress the grievances promptly.

Disciplinary Procedure

Meaning and Definition

Discipline refers to a condition or attitude, prevailing among the employees, with respect to rules and regulation of an organization. Discipline in the broadest sense means “orderliness, the opposite confusion. It does mean a strict and technical observance of rigid rules and regulation. It simply means working, cooperating and behaving in a normal and orderly way, as any responsible person build expect an employee to do.

Discipline is defined as” a force that prompts individuals or group to observe the rules, regulation and procedures which are deemed to be necessary for the effective functioning of an organization”.

According to Ordway Tead , discipline is ”the orderly conduct of affairs by the member of an organization, who adhere to do necessary regulations because they desire to cooperate harmoniously forwarding the end which group has in view, and willingly recognize that. To do this, their wishes must be brought into a reasonable union with the requirements of groups in action”.

Aspects of Discipline:

The two aspects of discipline are dealt in details below:

1) Positive Aspect:

Employees believe in and support discipline and adhere to the rules, regulation and desired standards of behavior. Discipline takes the forms of positive support and enforcement for approved actions and its aim is to help the individual in moulding his behavior and developing him in a corrective and supportive manner. This type of approach is called positive approach or constructive discipline or self-discipline.

2) Negative Aspect:

Employees sometimes do not believe in and support discipline. As such they do not adhere to rules , regulations and desired standard of behavior . as such a disciplinary programme forces and constraints the employees to obey orders and functions in accordance with the rules and regulations through warnings penalties and other forms of punishment. This approach is called negative approach , corrective approach or punitive approach.

Objectives of discipline:

The objectives of discipline are:

· To obtain a willing acceptance of the rules, regulations and procedures of an organization so that organization goals may be attained ;

· To impart and element of certainty despite several difference in informal behavior pattern and other relater changes in an organization;

· To develop amount the employees a spirit of tolerance and desire to make adjustments.

· To give and seek direction and responsibility

· To create and atmosphere of respect for the human personality and human relation and

· To increase the working efficiency and morale of the employees so that their productivity stepped up and the cost of production improved.

The Red Hot Stove Rule:

Without the continual support and regard of the subordinates, no manger can get the things done. But disciplinary action against a delinquvnt employee is painful and generates resentment on its part. Hence, a question arises as to how to impose discipline without generating resentment? This is possible through what Douglas McGregor called the “ Red Hot Stove Rules” ,which draws analogy between touching the hot stove undergoing discipline and –

· The burn is immediate.

· He had a warning. When the stove was red hot, he knew what would happen if he touched it.

· The effect is consistent. Everyone who touches red hot stove gets burnt.

· The effect is impersonal. A person is burnt not because of who he is but because he touched the hot stove.

The same thing is true with discipline. The disciplinary procedure should start immediately after an omission is noticed. It should give a clear cut warning regarding the extent of punishment for an offence. The same punishment should be consistently given for the same type of offence


Indiscipline means disorderliness, insubordination and not following the rules and regulations of an organisation. The symptoms of indiscipline are change in the normal behaviour ,absenteeism ,apathy ,go slow at work ,increase in number and severity of grievances ,persistent and continuous demand for overtime allowance ,lack of concern for performance etc.

Causes of Indiscipline:

The common causes of indiscipline are:

(1)Absence of effective leadership: Absence of effective leadership results in poor management in the areas of direction, guidance, instructions etc., this, in turn, leads to indiscipline.

(2)Unfair management practices: Management sometimes indulges in unfair practices like wage discrimination, defective handling of grievances, payment of low wages, delay in payment of wages, creating low quality work life, etc., these unfair management practices gradually result in indiscipline.

(3) Communication Barriers: Communication barriers along with the absence of upward communication, absence of humane and understanding approach on the part of superiors result in frustration and leads to indiscipline.

(4) Non- uniform Disciplinary Action: Management has to treat all cases of indiscipline in a fair and equitable way. But management may undertake disciplinary actions in a discriminating way, leading to violent protests from various quarters.

(5) Divide and rule policy: Managers may often divide the employees into groups, get the information from different groups about others and encourage the spying activity.

(6) Inadequate attention to personnel problems and delay in solving personal problems create frustration among individual workers.

(7) Victimization and excessive pressure on the work of the subordinate may also lead to indiscipline.

Domestic Enquiry

When the management of the company finds that an act of misconduct committed by an employee, warrants disciplinary procedure should be conducted in order conclude whether the act committed by the employees is a misconduct or not. Management can arrange to conduct the disciplinary procedure from within the company or by the officers from outside the company. Enquiry conducted from within the company by the internal officers is called domestic enquiry.

Management appoints the company officers as domestic enquiry officers. Sometimes, the personnel manager in charge of discipline may act as enquiry officer.

The domestic enquiry officer enquiries into the issue by:

· Calling the employee for explanation.

· Considering the explanation of the employee.

· Issuing a show- cause notice.

· Holding a full- fledged enquiry.

· Considering the witness reports, documents, events etc.,

· Considering the enquiring reports.

After the enquiry is over, the domestic enquiry officer submits his final report to the management. Management implements the report if it is satisfied with the enquiry. Otherwise, management may order for an external enquiry.

Disciplinary Procedure

Disciplinary procedure in Indian industries comprise of following stages

Issuing a letter of charge to the employee calling upon him for explanation: When the management of the establishment comes to the conclusion that an act of misconduct committed by an employee warrants disciplinary action, the concerned employee should be issued a charge sheet. The charge sheet should indicate the charges of indiscipline or misconduct clearly and precisely. Explanation should also be called from the delinquent employee and for that sufficient time should be given to the employee. Sending of the charge sheet either by personally or by post.

Consideration of explanation: When the delinquent employee admits in an unqualified manner, about his misconduct, there is no need for conducting any enquiry further. Besides when the employer is satisfied with the explanation given by the delinquent action. On the contrary management is not satisfied with the employee’s explanation, there is a need for serving show-cause notice.

Show-cause notice: In the show cause notice, the employer provides another chance to the employee to explain his conduct and rebut the charges made against him. This notice is issued by the manager, who decides to punish the employee. Besides, a notice of enquiry sent to the employee and this should indicate clearly the name of the enquiring officer, time, date and place of enquiry into the misconduct of the employee.

Holding of a Full-fledged enquiry:

The enquiry should be conformity with the principles of natural justice, that is, delinquent employee must be given a reasonable opportunity of being heard. The enquiry officer should record the findings in the process of an enquiry. He may also suggest the nature of disciplinary action to be taken.

Considering the Enquiry Proceedings and Findings and Making Final Order of Punishment: When the misconduct of an employee is proved , the manager may take disciplinary action against him. While doing so he may give consideration to the employee’s previous record, precedents effects of this action on other employees etc. have to be considered. No inherent right to appeal has been provided unless the law provides it. In case the employee- the enquiry not proper and action unjustified. He must be given a chance to make an appeal.

Follow-up: After taking disciplinary action, there should be proper follow-up. The disciplinary action should not make the employee repeat his mistake. And the consequences of the implementation of disciplinary action should be noted and taken care of.

Types of punishment

Different types of punishments resulting from various types of omissions or misconduct are as follows:

1. Oral warnings: Whenever an employee commits minor omissions, he may be given oral warning by the superior concerned. In such cases superior should enlighten the employee as to prevent their recurrence.

2. Written warnings: whenever oral warnings fails to achieve the desired behavior on the part of the employee, written warnings, which are the first formal state of progressive discipline, may be resorted to. Written warnings are also referred to as ‘pink slips’ which indicate that certain rights would be withdrawn incase the employee continues his misconduct or omission.

3. Loss of privileges and fines: if an employee leaves the work without taking permission of the superior, he may not be allowed to select the good tools and machines for himself to move freely in the company. If the contract of employment provides for imposition by the employee on the delinquent employee, the employer may resort to them.

4. Punitive suspension: under punitive suspension, the employer prohibits the employee from performing the tasks assigned to him and the wages are withheld or withdrawn during the period of such prohibition.

5. Withholding of increment: There is a major punishment under this method the employer withholds the annual increment of the delinquent employee in a graded scale.

6. Demotion: under this type, the employee is reduced to a lower grade enjoyed by him earlier. Normally this method is resorted to when an employee is promoted mistake and he is not able to perform the job.

7. Termination: The employees service is terminated in the following forms a) discharge implicate b) discharge c) dismissal.


Management and trade unions try to provide benefits to the workers but , still workers feel dissatisfaction. Workers ‘dissatisfaction are dealt through grievance procedure. Workers may not discharge the duties as per their company requirements. Disciplinary procedure deals this issue. Disciplinary rules regulate the behavior of employees in an organization as the law regulates the behavior of people in the society.





- V. S. P RAO


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