Grievance and Disciplinary Policy

1. Introduction and Purpose

Sudbury Rowing Club is committed to creating an environment where all volunteers are able to perform to their best ability and achieve satisfaction. It also recognises that there will be occasions where grievances arise.

The purpose of this policy is to ensure that if such problems do arise, they are dealt with fairly and consistently. This policy sets out the action that will be taken when problems occur.

The aim of the policy is to encourage improvement in individual conduct and performance and to minimise disagreements about disciplinary matters, thereby reducing the need for terminating the services of the volunteer.

Where necessary, reference will be made to the policies of British Rowing, and in particular document WG 1.7 (Complaints and Disciplinary Procedure), which can be accessed here.

Grievance Procedure

2. Principles

A fair grievance procedure should address the following key points: Any issue should be dealt with promptly and consistently, with the club carrying out any necessary investigation in a manner which treats all volunteers involved fairly. At every stage the volunteer who is the subject of the grievance will be advised of the nature of the complaint and given the opportunity to state their case in a formal meeting before any decision is taken on whether to impose a warning or other disciplinary sanction. The volunteer will be given the opportunity to be represented or accompanied at any formal meeting. There is a right to appeal against any disciplinary action taken against a volunteer.

3. Informal Discussions

Most grievances can be resolved by informal discussions or counselling. In the first instance, any grievance should be raised with either the relevant Vice Captain, or the Club Welfare Officer, who will attempt to resolve the issue informally.

If any of these officers are involved in the grievance, or the volunteer does not wish to confide in them, they should involve the Captain or the Chair instead.

If the issue cannot be resolved informally, or if it is considered to be sufficiently serious, then the formal procedure set out below should be followed.

4. Formal Discussions

If a volunteer wishes to raise a formal grievance, they must do so in writing, addressed to the Chair, as soon as possible after, but no more than one month following the incident which gives rise to the complaint.

The volunteer must detail the specific circumstances which in their view constitute the grievance, giving dates, times and witnesses as applicable. This submission must stick to the facts, listing only matters which can be substantiated and avoid insulting or abusive language.

The volunteer will be invited to attend a meeting with the Chair to discuss the grievance, at which they will be entitled to be accompanied by a fellow member of the club of their choosing.

That member can speak on their behalf, but cannot answer any questions put directly to the volunteer, or question any other volunteer present at the meeting.

The Chair may ask another volunteer to attend the meeting to take a note of what is said.

The procedure will be as follows:

  • The Chair opens by reading the grievance, asking the volunteer to confirm it is correct, and seek clarification of anything that is unclear.
  • The volunteer will have the opportunity to put forward their case and say how they would like it to be resolved. They may refer to documents or call other volunteers referred to in their grievance as witnesses.
  • The Chair may ask questions of the volunteer or any witnesses called.
  • The volunteer will have the opportunity to summarise their case, but not raise new matters.

The Chair will adjourn the meeting to consider the grievance. The volunteer who is the subject of the grievance will be contacted, and given the same opportunity to hear the grievance, and put forward their own case.

If he considers it necessary to carry out further investigations, the Chair may call further meetings, either separately, or with all parties present.

The Chair will give his decision in writing within one week of any final investigatory meeting.

If this procedure fails to satisfy all parties, and bring about the desired improvement, then the following formal disciplinary procedure will be implemented.

Disciplinary Procedure

5. Formal Verbal Warning

If, despite informal or formal discussions, the conduct or performance still does not meet acceptable standards, the volunteer may, following an appropriate disciplinary meeting, be given a formal verbal warning by the Chair. The volunteer will be told: the reason for the warning what the volunteer needs to do to improve the situation a time frame within which the conduct or performance needs to be improved any support or training that Sudbury Rowing Club might provide to support the volunteer that the verbal warning is the first stage of the disciplinary procedure A brief note of the warning will be kept but it will lapse after 6 months, subject to satisfactory conduct and/or performance.

6. Written Warning

If there is no improvement in standards within the prescribed time, or if a further offence occurs, the volunteer will receive a letter from the Chair. The letter will contain:

  • details of what the volunteer has alleged to have done wrong
  • the reason why the current behaviour or performance is unacceptable
  • an invitation to attend a disciplinary meeting with the Chair and management representatives at which the problems can be discussed
  • information about the right to be accompanied at the disciplinary meeting
  • copies of any documents that will be referred to at the disciplinary meeting The disciplinary meeting should take place as soon as is reasonably possible but with sufficient time for the volunteer to consider their response to the information contained in the letter. The meeting will be an opportunity for both the volunteer (with their representative) and club representatives to talk about the allegations being made, review the information with a view to establishing whether to progress the disciplinary action.

Where, following the disciplinary meeting, it is decided that no further action is warranted, the volunteer will be informed in writing.

Where, following the disciplinary meeting, the volunteer is found to be performing unsatisfactorily or their behaviour is deemed unsatisfactory, they will be given a written warning which will set out:

  • the performance and/or behaviour problem
  • the improvement that is required
  • the timescale and date for achieving the improvement
  • any support that Sudbury Rowing Club will provide to assist the volunteer
  • a statement that failure to improve could lead to a final written warning and ultimately dismissal
  • a review date
  • the appeal procedure

A copy of the written warning will be kept on file but the warning will lapse after 12 months subject to satisfactory conduct and/or performance.

7. Final Written Warning

If the conduct or performance still remains unsatisfactory by the stipulated date, or if the misconduct is sufficiently serious to warrant only one written warning, a further disciplinary meeting will be called with the volunteer and their representative. The disciplinary meeting will be an opportunity for the volunteer to answer the issues raised by Sudbury Rowing Club.

Where this meeting establishes that there has been a failure to improve or change behaviour, then a final written warning will be given to the volunteer. The final warning will:

  • give details of and the grounds for the complaint
  • set out the improvement that is required and a time frame
  • make it clear that any recurrence of the offence, lack of improvement or other serious misconduct within the stipulated period of time will result in dismissal
  • refer to the volunteer’s right of appeal

A copy of the final written warning will be kept on file but the warning will lapse after 12 months subject to satisfactory conduct and/or performance.

8. Dismissal

If the volunteer’s conduct or performance still fails to improve or if further serious misconduct occurs, the final stage in the disciplinary process may be instituted and the volunteer dismissed. The decision to dismiss will be taken by the management committee following an appropriate hearing and the volunteer being given the opportunity to state their case and put forward any mitigating circumstances.

Following the hearing the volunteer will be informed as soon as possible as to the outcome and if relevant the reason for the dismissal, the date on which the engagement will terminate and the right of appeal.

9. Gross Misconduct

Where a volunteer is found guilty of gross misconduct, they will normally be subject to summary dismissal and the above procedures regarding progression of warnings will not apply.

Where there is an allegation of gross misconduct, a senior member of the management committee will carry out an immediate investigation. The volunteer will have an opportunity to participate in that investigation and put their case and answer the allegations of gross misconduct.

While the alleged gross misconduct is being investigated, the volunteer may be suspended. Such suspension is not to be regarded as a form of disciplinary action and will be for as short a period as possible.

Any decision to dismiss will be taken only after an investigation and a disciplinary hearing.

If, after investigation and disciplinary hearing, it is deemed that the volunteer has committed an offence of gross misconduct, the normal consequence will be dismissal. The volunteer will be notified of the dismissal and appeal process as soon as possible.

The following list is a non exhaustive list that indicates the type of actions that may constitute gross misconduct,

  • theft, fraud, deliberate falsification of club documents
  • violent behaviour, fighting, assault on another person
  • deliberate damage to club property
  • harassment
  • being unfit through alcohol or illegal drugs
  • gross negligence
  • gross insubordination

10. Appeals

If a volunteer wishes to appeal against any disciplinary decision, they must appeal, in writing within one week of the decision being communicated to them, to the Chair.

The Club Captain will convene an Appeals Sub Committee to hear the appeal and the volunteer will be invited to a meeting with the Appeals Sub Committee.

The volunteer will have the right to be accompanied to the appeal meeting.

The Chair will not form part of the Appeal Sub Committee and the decision of the Appeal Sub Committee will be final.