Employment rights disputes: What is the role of HR professionals?
This study explores the role of human resource specialists in the handling of employee grievances. Most studies of HRM devolution have drawn only on the perceptions of managers and have neglected the area of grievances. The research highlights the employee experience of grievances under different levels of HRM devolution. The progression of fourteen grievance cases was investigated, accessing the full set of parties to each one. Data were gathered using a triangulated method involving seventy interviews, direct observation and written submissions. The findings suggest grievance handling is not readily accommodated within devolved HR structures. The role of HR staff in grievance processes can be ill-defined and show wide variation, causing problems for both line managers and employees. This can lead to negative outcomes and damage the credibility of the HR department. The insights from this study are intended to initiate debate concerning the potential roles of HR practitioners in grievance handling.