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Accelerating the grievance process?

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by daisy2019, Jun 17, 2019.

  1. daisy2019

    daisy2019 New commenter

    I have been working at my current place as a teacher for a year and am in my late twenties. It is my NQT year, although I have been working as a teacher for 4 years (did QTS on the job last year at my last place). Things are generally great and I am very happy here. A few months ago, a new member of staff joined our department as a subject leader. Recently he was chosen to take over as Head of Faculty from September. None of us really know him or have had much interaction with him, he mostly keeps himselfto himself. Last week, I had quite an unpleasant encounter with him.

    Asking him if I could borrow a piece of stationary from his room (second time I have ever asked but other teachers/ students ask him multiple times apparantly) led to him being quite rude. When I came to see him about this a little while later, he was very unpleasant towards me and unleashed a torrent of abuse on me, making false accusations about how I 'always use his stationary' when it is only the second time in 6 months, saying that as an NQT I don't have a right to answer back to him, and that I have to 'be careful or I might not pass my NQT year'. This person has also been making things quite difficult for the other young person in our team for the last few months, trying to get him sacked for incompetency, who is now lodging a full grievance against him.

    I told my mentor about this incident, he was shocked and we escalated it straight up to management. Management met with me and explained that the next step will now be a mediation meeting, after which if I am still not satisfied I can lodge a full grievance. My dilemma is this: we only have less than 2 weeks left of this term before the long summer break. I am already feeling sure that a mediation meeting alone will not change this person's attitude: he might try and impress management by saying all the right things at the meeting but I predict he will give me quite a difficult time as my line manager, if not 'outwardly' then passively/condescendingly. I spoke to my college and asked if I could initiate a grievance without waiting for mediation first, they said yes that's fine. I am wondering though, what I should do?

    Many thanks

  2. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    I don't think it's fine. Not at all.

    Follow the process. Mediation is the logical next step and it's a fair step too. It's enshrined in policy for a good reason. It has to be given a chance to work before going all-out ballistic. You are making a lot of assumptions without giving this person a chance to have his say and/or apologise.

    If you insist on bypassing the usual process it makes you look unreasonable and unwilling to compromise.
    agathamorse, Curae, Lalad and 7 others like this.
  3. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Have you talked to your union?

    What does your school's grievance policy about timescales?

    The thing is though, grievance policy timescales are there to protect both sides. To ensure the grievance bringer is able to move the process forward expeditiously whilst allowing the person the grievance is against to have reasonable time to prepare and present their own case. So school is unlikely to accelerate the grievance unless all parties involved agree.
    agathamorse and Piranha like this.
  4. daisy2019

    daisy2019 New commenter

    Thank you for this. I have been trying to get through to my union and will not make a decision until I have spoken with them. I understand that grievance procedures and timescales are there for a reason, however this is a case where there are less than 2 weeks left of the term before the long summer break. If I were to follow the whole process through it would take atleast a month. I want to come back to the new school year feeling confident that my new line manager knows that he cannot mistreat me. We have passed each other in the corridor a few times since the incident and he has not once apologised or even acknowledged me.
  5. ridleyrumpus

    ridleyrumpus Lead commenter

    In my opinion do not try to shortcut the process.

    Mediation is the correct and logical next step.
  6. DYNAMO67

    DYNAMO67 Lead commenter

    Cross this bridge when you come to it.... management seem to have been good.

    He’s bang out of order, but deserves the right to sort this out in mediation... go in with an open mind. It is unfair on your part to accelerate on the basis of ‘i Don’t think it’ll work’

    I will say this.... everyone is fighting battles you’ll never see. Do you know for sure

    1) this person hasn’t got really stressful things going on behind the scenes that explains what happened? Illness, relationship breakdown? It’s easy to see things only through your eyes

    2) this person who they tried to move out isn’t incompetent??

    The simple fact you suggest it makes me lose a bit of sympathy for you.
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2019
  7. averagedan

    averagedan Occasional commenter

    You have to go through the proper process. Keep a log of everything that happens and ask "if this behaviour continues next year, do we go back to square one with mediation or will the process be accelerated having taken previous incidents into account?"

    Also inform your staff governor and your union. Ensure that your staff governor is aware so that they can make sure it comes up at governor's and isn't brushed over. They have a duty of care to you and they can only action that duty of care if they know about it.
    daisy2019 and agathamorse like this.
  8. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    Good advice above.
    I can see why you're cross.
    Your highest priority is getting the NQT year signed off, This needs to be your main direction, until it's done. It's possible that he's the sort of guy who if upset will overturn the applecart - and you do not wish to be on or under it if he does this. Being right is not better than being flattened.
    You don't give any information as to why this guy responded the way he did. He may have been thoroughly wound up by bottom set year 9, He may have got the necessary stationery for his days teaching and had it all "borrowed" by other folk so his lessons were going to be disrupted. Things may have happened in his personal life... we don't know.
    Some people find it hard to apologise.
    What outcome do you actually want from this grievance? For losing his temper (admittedly big time) a reprimand from management ought to be enough. Do you really want him to lose his hard won job, or be publicly humiliated?
    It sounds as if the unfair behaviour to your colleague is being dealt with - and is between him, your colleague and the school management.
    I would focus on getting to the end of the term, and having a good break. There is a danger that if you try to force the school management to act against him, they may support the senior colleague in the dispute.
    It's not his -it's the schools. Maybe there needs to be a better method of distributing it.
    School management will deal with that without a grievance,
    agathamorse, daisy2019 and DYNAMO67 like this.
  9. DYNAMO67

    DYNAMO67 Lead commenter

    Absolutely spot on
    agathamorse likes this.
  10. DYNAMO67

    DYNAMO67 Lead commenter

    The more I read this, the more I question your motives.......
    grumpydogwoman likes this.
  11. ridleyrumpus

    ridleyrumpus Lead commenter

    In the mean time make a record of every conversation etc, as close to the time it was said/done, and email it home.
    daisy2019 likes this.
  12. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Neither staff governors nor any other governor should bring up individual grievances at a governing body meetings. It would not be allowed. The governors' grievance policy must be followed.
  13. Toomuchtooyoung

    Toomuchtooyoung Occasional commenter

    I agree with what’s been said so far, you have to follow the process.
    As others have said there are 2 sides, and he could well be going through a stressful time, however if you’re big enough to be a manager you should be big enough to acknowledge mistakes and apologise where necessary. Perhaps he’s learning too, mediation may help.
    BTW stationery with an e for envelope
  14. averagedan

    averagedan Occasional commenter

    Are you sure? I have heard differently from governors in regard to an issue I have had and how else would they carry out their due diligence in terms of their duty of care to the staff, etc.? How would they carry out their legal duty to ensure the school was meeting its HR requirement without examining how complaints are dealt with?
  15. daisy2019

    daisy2019 New commenter

    Thank you all, I really appreciate your inputs, especially phlogiston your post alone has helped dissuade me significantly to accelerate the grievance process. I’ll hopefully get through to my union soon. I just have very little faith that a mediation meeting will work since this person will just put his “good guy face” on for SLT and I’m left worrying secretly about next year, this guy made it clear he does not respect me and is happy to put me down as a junior person to him. But yes, to cover myself I should go through the correct steps in the grievance sequence.
    phlogiston likes this.
  16. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    This may be the case. You can't know this until he does it. If it comes to a battle, victory may not be assured. Sometimes it's best to develop your career somewhere else. Once you've got your NQT year sorted, you can think about career development. Sometimes hinting that you might need references soon focuses management minds.
    Good luck.
    daisy2019 likes this.
  17. Lalad

    Lalad Star commenter

    If you go into the mediation meeting convinced that it won't work, it won't.
    grumpydogwoman and DYNAMO67 like this.
  18. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    You've gone into huge detail, almost shouty indignation, about how you feel about the options you can take, and how pessimistic you feel about effecting some change in this person, about how you've escalated things with other people, about how awful they are to others too,but...d'you know what? If somebody said precisely these words to me because I'd popped in to borrow something I didn't happen to have myself, I'd think one thing and one thing only
    "Well fine then, that's the last time I ask you for any favours"
    And get on with my job.
    DYNAMO67 likes this.
  19. daisy2019

    daisy2019 New commenter

    I just don’t see a point in it. If this was a fallout where both parties were at fault and needed to ‘make up’, I see its purpose. But this was an episode of unprovoked verbal abuse, where extreme things were said by the future head of department to an NQT teacher and a very clear abuse of power if he was just having a bad day. This mediation meeting is simply a chance for the person to show SLT that it “cannot be that”. The person was also making false accusations to my face during that 1:1 conversation, some done very clearly to upset me, so I do hope he won’t make up more fibs to tell SLT to justify himself and his actions.
  20. SantasElf

    SantasElf New commenter

    OK, massive devil's advocate here - but why didn't you have the stationery you needed? I know sometimes things catch us out, but maybe your HOD was fed up with getting everything sorted out only to find other people taking advantage of his organisational skills when they hadn't thought ahead enough. And possibly 9F had just been in and trashed his room....

    I don't think shouting is an appropriate response, BTW, but as a poster above has said, without the context it's impossible to know what set this off.

    OP, your attitude seems very defeatist - the point about mediation is that it offers both sides a chance to air their views in a safe space. If your HOD puts on a good face and says the right things, then you have the chance to hold him to what has been agreed; it's not a one way street!

    Deciding in advance that nothing will work and you need to go straight to a formal grievance does start to sound a little vindictive to be honest. I am sure you don't mean it like that, but I think you should focus on completing your NQT year first and foremost, and if the mediation meeting does not work then and only then use the grievance process.

    These processes have been worked out over time to ensure fairness to all parties - and we've only heard one side of the story.

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