Grievance Machinery

1. Concepts

Grievance machinery – refers to a system of resolving grievances aired by employees, including but not limited to, issues arising from the interpretation or implementation of their Collective Bargaining Agreement and those arising from the interpretation or enforcement of company personnel policies, as well as those that may be stipulated in the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

“Grievance” — is a complaint or dissatisfaction arising from the interpretation or implementation of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and those arising from interpretation or enforcement of personnel policies. (Section 1[g], Ibid.)

“Grievance Procedure” — refers to the system of grievance settlement at the plant level as provided in the collective bargaining agreement. It usually consists of successive steps starting at the level of complaint and his immediate supervisor and ending, when necessary, at the level of the top union and company officials. (Section 1[h], Ibid.)

“Collective Bargaining Agreement” — CBA for short, refers to the negotiated contract between a duly recognized of certified exclusive bargaining agent of rank-and-file workers and the employer concerning wages, hours of work and all other terms and conditions of employment on the appropriate bargaining agreement, including mandatory provisions for grievance and arbitration machineries. (Section 1[f], NCMB Procedural Guidelines in the Conduct of Voluntary Arbitration Proceedings)

a. Mandatory CBA provision

ART. 273. [260] Grievance Machinery and Voluntary Arbitration. The parties to a Collective Bargaining Agreement shall include therein provisions that will ensure the mutual observance of its terms and conditions. They shall establish a machinery for the adjustment and resolution of grievances arising from the interpretation or implementation of their Collective Bargaining Agreement and those arising from the interpretation or enforcement of company personnel policies. (P.D. 442, Labor Code of the Philippines)

Grievance machinery provisions in the CBA are mandatory as provided above.

b. Procedure

The procedure for the grievance machinery shall depend on the stipulations provided for in the CBA. Thus, grievance machinery varies from one employer to another.

By way of example only, some CBA’s generally follow this grievance machinery procedure:

1) Employees who may have any grievance shall be required to first approach their immediate supervisor or manager to resolve the issue or dispute.

2) If the grievance is unresolved within say 48 hours, the concerned employees may proceed to file a complaint or request for grievance resolution which may be filed before the human resources or the labor-management committee/council (LMC), whichever may have been designated by the CBA. Thereafter, the LMC will organize as a committee to address the grievance and follow the internal rules that may have already been provided in the CBA. Once a full and proper investigation has been concluded, the grievance should ideally be resolved. If not, the concerned employee may resort to escalating the issue/concern via the voluntary arbitration process as provided for in the CBA.

The above procedure is a simple and basic process. There are, however, cases where a CBA provides for an appeal process that may be resorted to by the employees with a grievance should they be unsatisfied with the resolution of the LMC. For example, grievances may be appealed to the concerned senior executives, such as a Vice-President for Human Resources, or to the Management Committee or, in some cases, to the Board of Directors.

c. 7-day settlement window

While the Labor Code did not prescribe a procedure for the grievance machinery and thus leaves it to the employer and the employee to stipulate in the CBA, the law nonetheless requires that the grievance be settled “within seven (7) calendar days from the date of its submission.” (Paragraph 2, Article 273, Ibid.)

Thus, grievance machinery procedure is often made basic and simple given that there is only a 7-day window for its prompt resolution.

d. Automatic referral to voluntary arbitration

If the grievance remains unresolved despite the lapse of the 7-day settlement window, the grievance “shall automatically be referred to voluntary arbitration prescribed in the Collective Bargaining Agreement.” (Ibid.)


Presidential Decree No. 442, a.k.a. Labor Code of the Philippines

DOLE Administrative Order No. 441, Series of 2011

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