Dealing with workplace disputes: 5 policies your business needs

The last two years have put tremendous pressure on the employer-employee relationship. From vaccination to workplace safety measures, the pandemic has introduced plenty of new potential sources of conflict, and in many cases, employers’ COVID response and their handling of COVID-related issues continue to be a source of resentment.

Senior Partnerships Manager (Worknest)

What’s more, employees now have an all-around greater awareness of their employer’s responsibilities, as well as their own rights. And with the Great Resignation tipping the balance of power in their favour, employees may feel emboldened to take work issues further than they would have dared to previously.

With this in mind, here are five key policies all businesses should have in order to help them prevent and manage disputes effectively.

1. Grievance policy

All organisations should have a grievance policy and procedure, as this will help employees to understand the correct steps to follow when they have a concern, problem or complaint that they wish to raise with their employer that they feel they have been unable to resolve informally.

 2. Equality and diversity policy

Disputes are commonly raised around bullying and harassment, and issues of equality and fairness, especially in relation to employees with protected characteristics such as race, sex and disability. In order to show that equality and diversity are at the core of your business, it’s essential that you have a policy around it.

3. Pay and performance

Having a pay policy will help to ensure equal pay is given for work of equal value by setting out how you apply certain pay to certain roles. This in turn will reduce the potential for complaints of unfairness and potentially even equal pay claims. A pay policy will also help you to communicate pay principles, such as when you will pay overtime and how certain bonuses are awarded, thereby preventing disputes arising out of misunderstanding.

4. Disciplinary policy

A disciplinary policy is one of an organisation’s tools for managing disputes, and employers must not be afraid to use this policy in the right circumstances – in other words, once all informal problem-solving avenues have been explored, or where the performance or conduct warrants it.

5. COVID-19 policy

A lack of clear post-COVID policies emerged amongst the top three factors that would prompt an employee to raise a complaint or bring legal action, according to our Mind the Gap report. Simply put, people want to know how the organisation will deal with issues such as homeworking, vaccination and self-isolation, and this is best done through a COVID-19 policy. This list is not exhaustive, and it’s extremely valuable to have policies around all aspects of the employment relationship. After all, the number one factor that would prompt employees to bring a complaint according to our research? A lack of communication. The more employees understand the better; if things are communicated to them through policies and other means, the less likely you will be to end up with a dispute.

For advice on creating watertight HR policies or to enquire about fixed-fee support, contact WorkNest at

Contact us today and one of our skilled staff will assess your requirements and provide recommendations on future steps.