Employee Grievance

Dear HR Community,

As the go between the management and employees, HR practitioners often listen to grievances and do what is necessary to maintain harmony.

However, this balancing act becomes slippery when the grievance is something that is against the law, unethical or immoral.

Say an employee comes to you and complains that her supervisor has asked her to perform a task that is not only outside her job scope but will also contravene the Employment Act.

The staff is very likely to be in a state of confusion, fear, and stress.

If she doesn’t undertake the task she will face disciplinary action. HR will be called on to investigate and determine whether she is to be held accountable for her actions. Then administer and enforce punishment.

On the other hand, if she does the assigned work she will be performing an illegal act of which HR is aware.

In this situation, do HR professionals have the courage and conviction to do what is required and stand out from the crowd or just blend in and become a rabbit?

Please indicate your views using the form below.

Thank you in advance for your views and comments.



What should HR do when faced with this employee grievance?

Advise the employee's supervisor: 31.58%

Counsel the employee: 7.02%

Inform management: 28.07%

Follow company policy if there is one related to the matter: 22.81%

Tell the employee not to do the task: 10.53%




As an HR personnel / professional, I believe we should advise the "rights & wrongs" and not blend in and become a rabbit. As you have mentioned, "HR practitioners often listen to grievances and do what is necessary to maintain harmony." But this should not be at the expense of doing something incorrectly. We should protect the interest of the company if an incorrect decision/opinion is made. - Grace

This is my own personal opinion. I have encountered this before in my previous lives. There are supervisors or Managers who are not familiar with the labour laws and have the impression that the worker must do as they say. Talk to the supervisor and if they refuse, talk to his manager directly. HR is the authority and must have the courage to point out if the act contravenes the law. - Nancy

To advise the supervisor that what he/she asks the employee to do is not correct. Look for the supporting HR policy or legislative guidelines to support the case. If the supervisor insists, I will inform the management. If management insists the supervisor is correct, I will resign. - Christine

Anything out of the job scope must be within the EA coverage and must be mutually agreed upon. - Lee

I will refer to the code of conduct and report the case to the Management. - Tracy

HR should be the gatekeeper for the Company against external stakeholders and hence should protect employees. - Wilson

Do the right thing. Gather evidence and report authority. - Ming

Understand the problem first through counseling. - Joanne

Do not allow employees to follow anything against EA. Report to management so this is stopped immediately by all potential violators. - Kimberly



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