Grievance Handling

How to set up a grievance handling procedure to manage internal complaints effectively.

What Is Grievance Handling

Grievance handling is the management of employee dissatisfaction or complaints (e.g. favouritism, workplace harassment, or wage cuts). By establishing formal grievance handling procedures, you provide a safe environment for your employees to raise their concerns. You also create a channel to explain your policies and rationale for actions or decisions.

Why It Matters

As an employer, it is best to handle grievances in an amicable and supportive way to avoid unnecessary escalation and negative feelings. Grievance handling procedures also allow you to identify and address unacceptable or unlawful practices quickly.

What You Must Do to Be Fair

The following Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices (grievance handling) state what you must do as an employer:

  • Handle all complaints of discrimination seriously.
  • Conduct proper investigations into complaints.
  • Respond to the affected person promptly and proactively.
  • Record and file grievances confidentially.
  • Treat both complainant and respondent fairly.
  • Involve unions in the process for unionised companies.
  • Conduct training for all managers and supervisors involved in handling grievances.
 

Tripartite Guidelines

Refer to the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices to ensure that you abide by the guidelines on all the relevant practices.

How to Be Progressive

Here are some progressive employment practices you can consider. These are based on the Tripartite Standard on Grievance Handling, which you can adopt to distinguish your organisation.

Set Up and Document Your Grievance Handling Procedure

Your procedure should outline:

  • How to raise grievances
  • Who to approach for guidance
  • How to conduct an investigation
  • When to respond by
  • How to escalate unresolved grievances (e.g. how to approach CEO)

Train Appointed Staff to Handle Grievances

Appointed staff should attend on-the-job training, workshops, courses, or briefing sessions on proper grievance handling. These can be held in-house or taught by an external vendor.

Your training should cover:

  • Common types and causes of grievances
  • Appropriate principles and procedures
  • Relevant skills and techniques
  • How to engage unions (if your organisation is unionised).

You may approach TAFEP or the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) for upcoming grievance handling workshops.

Communicate Your Grievance Handling Procedure

Clearly communicate the grievance handling procedure to all employees (e.g. through employee handbooks, orientation programmes, company circulars or memos).

If your organisation is unionised, you should state this procedure in your Collective Agreement (CA).

For more information on these practices: