National Consultancy: Drafting of Guidelines for Workplace Grievance Handling Procedures
Publication date: 23 November 2022
Application deadline (midnight Moscow time): 14 December 2022
Job ID: 10251
Department: RO-Europe and Central Asia
Organization Unit: DWT/CO-Moscow
Location: Yerevan (presence may or may not be required at the duty station)
The ILO is issuing a call for expressions of interest for experts who wish to be included in a consultancy database currently being compiled by the Decent Work Technical Support Team and Country Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
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The International Labour Organization (ILO) seeks a consultant to:
• Develop guidelines for internal grievance handling in the Republic of Armenia based on ILO relevant Recommendations and Guidelines, in consultation with employer and worker representatives in the mining and service sectors of Armenia
• Validate the Guidelines with employers’ representatives and trade unions from the mining and service sectors.
The work is to be carried out in the framework of the ILO development cooperation project Promoting Implementation of Labor Rights in Armenia Together (PILRAT). The project is funded by the United States Department of Labor (USDoL).
The ILO recognizes that there is a direct link between 1) high performing labour market institutions (labour inspectorate, courts, and workers’ and employers’ organizations); 2) the protection of labour rights; and 3) the rule of law. It is therefore fundamentally important to improve access to judicial and non-judicial remedies related to labour laws and standards. Armenia however lacks a well-functioning, comprehensive labour dispute resolution system that can achieve this objective. The labour inspection system is weak, and the judicial system is widely considered to be inefficient and to lack independence.
The vast majority of labour disputes in Armenia is individual disputes. The number of labour-related claims admitted by Armenian courts of general jurisdiction was 544 in 2019 and 479 in 2020. The most common types were salary-related claims (204 and 176 respectively) and unlawful termination of employment claims (157 and 156 respectively). Furthermore, the trade unions are generally weak, and thus currently unable to play a significant role in resolving labour disputes. The capacity of employer organizations to play an active role in dispute resolution process is also limited.
The ILO has commissioned an assessment on “Improving access to judicial and non-judicial remedies related to labour laws and standards in the Republic of Armenia” in 2021. The assessment recommended that internal, workplace level grievance procedures (ideally based on bipartite structures and / or progressive corporate governance practices) shall be better utilized in Armenia in order to prevent the escalation of labour disputes, or to serve as “entry points” for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms, that the Government is currently planning to establish in the country. It must be noted that for individual disputes, there is no institutionalized internal, workplace level grievance procedure set forth in Armenian labour law. The assessment suggested that the consideration of the introduction of such a mechanism could be sensible, based on the experience of some CEE countries. However, taking into account of the experience of other countries, some caution, careful evaluation and intensive social dialogue are needed in Armenia before proposing a reform in this direction.
Workplace Grievance Handling
Workers have a grievance when they believe that some aspects of their rights are not being respected by their employer. Grievances are usually described as ‘individual’ when only one worker is involved and ‘collective’ when a group of workers all believe they are suffering from the same breach of the rules. Grievances relate to addressing infringements of existing rights* and entitlements, such as bullying or harassment, or underpayment or non-payment of wages, refusal to grant rest periods, weekly rest days or public holidays, discrimination and so on.
The effective prevention and resolution of labour disputes is critical for sound and productive employment and industrial relations worldwide. Effective dispute resolution processes ensure access to justice in the world of work and early resolution of disputes through workplace grievance handling can create a safety-valve which helps to prevent escalation or outburst of serious disputes. Moreover, such procedures contribute to a climate of mutual confidence between management and workers which is so necessary in labour-management relations.
The ILO has long worked to support the establishment and the improved functioning of institutions and processes for the prevention and resolution of labour disputes. The ILO’s approach to grievance handling places a firm emphasis on finding solutions that are worked out in a dialogue between worker and employer within the enterprise. This approach is preferred because in many cases, grievances may be the result of honest mistakes or differences of interpretation that are relatively easy to resolve without resort to more formal procedures. At the same time, given the imbalance of power between a worker and employer, a preference for voluntary solutions must be balanced against ensuring genuine efforts to provide a fair outcome.
Mechanisms which provide that worker can raise issues directly with their own employer are the most accessible and obvious form of internal grievance mechanisms for workers. In most cases, trying to resolve issues where they arise – that is, in the employment relationship between the worker and the supplier – will be the most appropriate and effective way to facilitate access to remedy.
Grievance mechanisms at workplace level may take one or more of a number of forms. These can include, for instance, structured mechanisms where workers lodge grievances which are then dealt with through defined procedures by management. Another system could involve the establishment of worker-management committees to receive and manage complaints. A broad range of systems and processes have been developed by private and public sector entities.
The system and process for internal grievance handling should be responsive to the national and local context and be appropriate for enterprises in the mining and services sectors. All grievance handling systems should be in conformity with the principles provided in the ILO Examination of Grievances Recommendation, 1967 (No.130).
*In this context, grievances relate to existing rights and entitlements under legislation, employment contracts, enterprise rules, policies and collective agreements. They do not relate to interest disputes such as disputes between trade unions and employers over the contents of a future collective agreement.
Workplace Grievance Handling (cont'd)
Some of the key principles in the Recommendation include –
- Every worker should have the right to submit a grievance without suffering any prejudice whatsoever as a result;
- Any grievances submitted should be examined via an effective procedure which is open to all workers;
- Grievance procedures should be created and implemented in a way that ensures a real possibility of achieving a settlement of the case at each step in the procedure, which is freely accepted by the worker and the employer;
- Any worker who has submitted a grievance should be kept informed of the steps being taken under the procedure and of the action taken on his grievance;
- The system should be simple, fast, easy to follow and brought to the knowledge of all workers;
- Every worker shall have the right to participate directly in the grievance procedures or be represented by a third party, including by a trade union or worker representative or other third party. Employers should also have a right to assistance or representation by an employers’ organization;
- Sufficient time to participate in the procedure should be provided to workers and their representatives (if at the same enterprise) without suffering loss of remuneration or other rights;
- Internal grievance procedures should not prevent of limit the right of a worker to directly apply to the competent labour authority or labour courts; and
- In order to prevent grievances and promote a harmonious workplace, management should take into account and respect the rights and interests of workers and cooperate with workers’ representatives.
As indicated above, it is recommended to promote voluntary, workplace-level settlement of individual labour disputes in Armenia. Therefore, in the frameworks of the Promoting Implementation of Labor Rights in Armenia Together (PILRAT), ILO plans to support workplace cooperation and grievance handling in the mining and service sectors. As part of this support, the current consultancy is aimed to develop guidelines for the mining and services sectors on internal grievance handling. The guidelines will be used for developing internal grievance handling mechanisms with an aim to pilot the guidelines and effectiveness of internal grievance measures and use the experiences from the pilot to propose reform(s).
The consultant will act as both a researcher and a facilitator. The Consultant will review examples of enterprise grievance procedure guidelines, consult with representatives in the mining and services sectors on priorities and needs and draft internal grievance procedure guidelines. It will be expected that the Consultant will also facilitate meetings to discuss and validate draft guidelines.
In particular, the consultant will:
- Review the Internal Grievance Handling Guidelines and principles made available by ILO and any such Guidelines recommended by employers;
- Carry out consultations with employer and worker representatives in the mining and services sectors on internal grievance handling and dispute prevention to understand their needs and priorities;
- Based on the review of comparative examples, ILS, and consultations, draft a framework and outline of the key contents of the Guidelines for approval;
- Based on feedback from the ILO, draft Guidelines for internal grievance handling facilitate a half-day workshop with employers’ representatives and trade unions from the mining and services sectors to share and validate the Guidelines;
- Add information gained in the workshop to the Guidelines. The final draft shall be shared with ILO for comments before finalisation.
The contents of the Guidelines will be guided by consultations with employer and trade union representatives and the articulation of their priorities and needs. The Guidelines will reflect ILO principles of Recommendation No.130 and will, at minimum, include the following broad sections –
- Basic concept and definition of workplace disputes and grievances;
- Importance of dispute resolution and grievance handling;
- Guiding principles;
- Grievance procedures;
- Who is involved in dispute resolution and grievance resolution;
- Causes and basic types of disputes and grievances;
- What workers and unions should know about labour disputes and grievance handling mechanisms;
- Strategies to minimise workplace disputes and workplace cooperation.
- Checklists and tools for good practice grievance handling.
Additional sections and tools should also be included depending on the needs and priorities of employers and unions in the mining and services sectors.
- Outline and framework for Guidelines on internal grievance handling (in English).
- Draft Guidelines on internal grievance handling.
- Presentation and facilitation of half-day meeting with stakeholders to review the Guidelines.
- Final Guidelines on internal grievance handling (in English).
A first degree in labour relations, industrial relations, law, communications, journalism or other relevant subject
- At least five years working with or to support industrial relations or dispute resolution
- Experience working on labour issues in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union
- Familiarity with the legal framework on labour disputes in Armenia and local context
- Demonstrable experience of writing training guides or similar materials that are able to effectively convey complex issues in simple and easy to understand language.
Fluency in English and Armenian, knowledge of Russian is desirable
Please note that all candidates must complete an on-line application form. To apply, please visit the ILO Jobs website. The system provides instructions for online application procedures.
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