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News

Revisions to SPA Employee Grievance Policy

March 31, 2014 | In Employee Relations, Policies

The SPA Employee Grievance Policy has been revised. The new policy is effective May 1, 2014. See below for details.

Contents

  • Reason for the Policy Change
  • Advance Copy of the Policy Available on HR Website
  • Key Elements of the New SPA Employee Grievance Policy
    • What is Grievable?
    • Steps in the Revised Grievance Process
  • Key Changes to the SPA Employee Grievance Policy
    • Change in Timeline for Grievances
    • Change in Grievable Issues
    • Change in Harassment/Discrimination/Retaliation Procedures
    • Change in Step 1 Process (Mediation)
    • Change in Step 2 Hearing Report & Recommendation
  • Informational Sessions
  • Questions

Reason for the Policy Change

Last year, the NC General Assembly made changes to the State Human Resources Act. As a result, all UNC System institutions now must have the same grievance policy (“UNC System SPA Employee Grievance Policy”). The effective date of the new policy is May 1, 2014.

Advance Copy of Policy Available on HR Website

An advance copy of the SPA Employee Grievance Policy, effective May 1, 2014, is available now on the Office of Human Resources website at https://hr.unc.edu/?p=3495.

Key Elements of the New SPA Employee Grievance Policy

What is Grievable?
  • Suspension, demotion, dismissal
  • Separation due to unavailability and exhaustion of leave
  • Harassment
  • Discrimination
  • Retaliation
  • Annual performance appraisal overall rating of Below Good or Unsatisfactory
  • RIF and promotional priority
  • Failure to post a vacancy
  • Denial of veteran’s preference in hiring
  • Inaccurate or misleading information in personnel file
Steps in the Revised Grievance Process

STEP 1: The employee (‘grievant’) has 15 calendar days from the date of the event being grieved to submit a grievance filing form to Employee & Management Relations (E&MR) in the Office of Human Resources. E&MR will contact the Office of State Human Resources (OSHR) to schedule mediation between the grievant and a representative from their management (“respondent”).

STEP 2: If mediation results in an impasse (no resolution), then the grievant has 5 calendar days from the date of the mediation session to file a Step 2 appeal. A panel of University employees will hear statements from the grievant and respondent and review additional information provided by both parties. The panel will complete its report and recommendation within 35 calendar days of the date the Step 2 appeal was filed.

FINAL UNIVERSITY DECISION: OSHR has 10 calendar days to review the recommendation. Once the University receives approval from OSHR, the Final University Decision must be issued to the grievant within 5 calendar days by the Chancellor or her designee.

FURTHER APPEAL: The grievant can appeal to the State’s Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) within 30 calendar days of receiving the Final University Decision. However, some issues cannot be grieved beyond the Final University Decision.

Key Changes to the SPA Employee Grievance Policy

Change in Timeline for Grievances

Grievances must be completed within 90 calendar days. The 90 days does not include the time to file the Step 1 grievance or the time to file a state-level appeal of the University’s final decision. The new deadlines are significantly different than they are under the current policy.

CURRENT TIMELINE (in calendar days)

30 days – For the Grievant to file Step 1 grievance

10 days – For the Department to file Step 1 response

10 days – For the Grievant to file Step 2 grievance

30 days – To complete the Grievance Hearing

10 days – To complete the Hearing Report & Recommendation

10 days – To issue the Final University Decision

30 days – For the Grievant to file a State-level appeal 

NEW TIMELINE (in calendar days)

15 days – For the Grievant to file Step 1 grievance

35 days – To complete Mediation

05 days – For the Grievant to file Step 2 grievance

35 days – To complete the Grievance Hearing and Panel Report & Recommendation

10 days – To complete review by the Office of State Human Resources

05 days – To issue the Final University Decision

30 days – For the Grievant to file a State-level appeal                                                                                          

Change in Grievable Issues
  • The University can only apply the grievance process to issues that are grievable in the UNC System SPA Employee Grievance Policy.
  • Inaccurate/misleading information in the personnel file can only be appealed at the University level.
  • Retaliation is grievable only in regard to allegations of harassment, discrimination, or whistleblowing.
  • The only disciplinary actions that are grievable are suspensions, demotions, and dismissals.
  • Only overall ratings of Below Good or Unsatisfactory on an annual performance appraisal are grievable.
  • Other grievable policy violations are limited primarily to the hiring process.
Change in Harassment/Discrimination/Retaliation Procedures
  • State policy already covered protected statuses of race, religion, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, and political affiliation for harassment and discrimination. The State policy now also covers genetic information.
  • In addition, the UNC System SPA Employee Grievance Policy includes the University’s protections for gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, and veterans’ status. However, these issues cannot be appealed to the State level.
  • All harassment, discrimination, and retaliation grievances will first require an “Equal Opportunity Informal Inquiry” prior to beginning the grievance process. The Inquiry should be completed within 45 calendar days. The time in the Inquiry does not count toward the 90-day grievance period.
  • The grievant has 15 calendar days from the date of receipt of the Inquiry outcome to file a grievance  appeal in order to continue to Step 1 mediation.
Change in Step 1 Process (Mediation)
  • Mediation will be Step 1 for all cases. However, for some cases of severe misconduct, OSHR may allow an exception to move directly to a Step 2 hearing.
  • OSHR will assign state-trained mediators. The mediators cannot be UNC-Chapel Hill employees.
Other Changes to Procedures
  • The Support Person role has been discontinued.
  • OSHR must review and approve the Final University Decision before it can be issued.

Informational Sessions

The Office of Human Resources will hold informational sessions on campus in April. The sessions will include more details on the University’s procedures and resources. Dates and times of these sessions will be sent to campus in a separate communication within the next few weeks.

Questions

If you have questions about this policy, please contact Employee & Management Relations in the Office of Human Resources, 104 Airport Drive, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-1045. Phone: 919.843.3444. Email: emr@unc.edu.

Formal Notice sent to all permanent employees on March 31, 2014, on behalf of Gena Carter, Senior Director, Employee & Management Relations, Office of Human Resources.