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Grievance redressal mechanism to solve an industrial dispute in India

August 22, 2021
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Image source: https://blog.ipleaders.in/mechanism-resolution-industrial-dispute-industrial-relation-code-2020/

This article has been written by Kalpesh Shailendra Amrute pursuing the Diploma in Labour, Employment and Industrial Laws (including POSH) for HR Managers from LawSikho.

Introduction

HR professionals, acting as a middle man, have to do a balancing act between the management and workers to ensure uninterrupted and smooth flow of business operations. While doing so many times we face challenges from workers related to payment issues, disciplinary issues, issues related to working conditions etc. These issues can be of individual or collective in nature. While we do our best to alleviate them, sometimes taking a legal course of action becomes imminent, either by choice or with no alternative. In that scenario before the legal team steps in, HR has to act as the first line of defence for any organization. In order to minimise damage as well as to protect the interest of the organization, it is necessary to understand the overall mechanism of grievance redressal and the legal framework surrounding it to deal with such matters more efficiently and effectively.

Accordingly, in this article, we will try to understand –

  1. Meaning of grievance and the difference between a complaint and grievance
  2. Understanding the concept of industrial dispute
  3. Possible voluntary set-up to resolve them
  4. Dispute settlement mechanism in law and authorities involved in it

What is a grievance?

Before we ponder over the mechanism to resolve issues. First, let us understand the meaning of grievance. In simple words, it is a formal complaint filed by an aggrieved employee regarding any dissatisfaction he faces in his job. A grievance can be raised either by individuals, groups or by a union of workmen (if it exists).

Causes for a grievance primarily be,

Difference between a complaint and a grievance

While both look similar in nature, there is a marginal difference between the two.

Complain

Grievance

A complaint is any dissatisfaction on part of an employee related to the job.

When a complaint remains unattended, it becomes a grievance.

A complaint is usually informal and can be expressed orally as well as in writing

A grievance is a formal way of expressing discontent, usually in written format

Complaints are mostly of individual nature

A grievance can be filed by an individual, a group of workers or by the union.

The impact could be lesser and remains within the organization as complaints are usually caused by minor issues.

The impact of an unattended grievance can be huge, as it may lead to a legal dispute and could even affect the reputation of the organization.

 

Industrial dispute and its legal perspective 

When a grievance is aggravated and heading for a legal course, it becomes an “industrial dispute”. The main reason for the arising of industrial dispute is the difference between the management and workmen related to employment. In India, we have a separate act dedicated to deal with such matters. The Industrial Dispute Act, 1947, not just defines the term but also provides a step by step mechanism to deal with such matters from a legal point of view. Provisions of this act aim towards providing benign measures seeking to pre-empt industrial tensions. Unlike many other labour laws which are intended mainly to protect the interest of employees, this act proposes a tripartite dispute settlement mechanism involving workmen, employers and the appropriate government.  

A dispute can be raised by any person working in the capacity of a workman in an industry. In case of any dispute, they may directly approach the conciliation officer in the district to register their grievances. Persons working in an administrative role or at a managerial capacity are excluded being a workman as per the provision of this act. 

Possible voluntary set-up for resolution of a dispute

Before understanding the external authorities provided in the act, let us first discuss the possible ways to manage any grievance within the organization. This can be useful even to those organizations, not covered under the Act, i.e. service sector. Let’s discuss each one in detail;

Authorities under the Act for settlement of disputes

In total there are six to eight various authorities set up as a part of dispute settlement machinery, which are mainly divided into three stages – Conciliation, Arbitration and Adjudication. Let’s discuss them one by one.

– To investigate and settle the dispute in a fair and amicable way without delay

– Prepare a memorandum of settlement with signs from both the parties and send it to the government along with his report.

Dispute Settlement Mechanism

Since any award given by the adjudicating authorities is final and cannot be appealed further as per the ID act, however, if any party feels its fundamental rights are violated, they may file a “writ petition” in the high court of their jurisdiction or in the Supreme Court of India. 

Conclusion

Both management and workers are fundamental parts of any commercial organization. While both works towards the growth of the organization, differences are inexorable during the process. Even though there is a “legal way” to deal with it, it is not advisable to take the route too often. it is not just time-consuming but also strain the relationships between the two resulted in impacting adversely to the organization, not just performance-wise but it affects the reputation of the business as well. Having a robust internal system to deal with employee grievances in a systematic manner along with empathy towards their problem is prudent and may save millions of dollars for a company in possible future legal battles. Therefore, transparency in matters and flexibility in approach from both sides is desirable for the eternal growth of the organization. 

References


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