Unfortunately, workplace conflict is often inevitable. When employees and managers are brought together from diverse backgrounds, with varying beliefs, different working styles and contrasting expectations, there is a chance of disagreements arising.
It is important that you can find ways to resolve any conflicts to help manage your mental health and happiness at work. To help with this, it is vital that you know your rights as a worker, you understand your employer’s grievance procedure and you can manage disagreements in a calm and rational manner.
Driving workers’ rights
As a professional Driver there are certain general requirements an employer expects from you. These include learning and understanding basic information on driving hours, vehicle conditions and compliance with your legal responsibilities.
In Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) Driving jobs, you will need to observe driving limits and required breaks,undertake external and internal vehicle safety checks, and understand shift patterns and any medical requirements needed to carry out your job safely.
As an employee, it’s important that you know your rights and responsibilities as a Driver. These are the same whether you’re a permanent or agency/temporary worker.
An agency or temporary worker is entitled to the same amenities and facilities as permanent employed staff, including such things as staff canteens, on-site parking, transport services, along with access to staff rooms and vending machines.
As an agency worker, you are also governed by the general Employment Rights and Agency Worker Regulations:
- If you are an HGV Driver, your hours are regulated by the Working Time Regulations.
- You must not work more than an average of 56 hours per week, averaged out over a 17-week period.
- You can do a maximum of 90 driving hours in any two-week period.
- You must be paid at least the National Minimum/Living Wage.
- You must be paid annual leave and rest breaks.
- There must be no unlawful deductions from your wages.
- The Equality Act 2010 must be adhered to.
- Health and Safety at work must be observed.
- Protection against unlawful discrimination.
- Protection against unfair dismissal.
- Minimum notice period if your employment will be ending.
- Protection for reporting wrongdoing in the workplace, also known as whistleblowing.
- The right to request flexible working.
- Time off for emergencies.
- Statutory Redundancy Pay.
Handling conflict at work
When you first start a new driving job, mutually agree with your employer on what responsibilities are included in the role - that way you will know what your duties are and what your employer expects from you. These details should be included in your employment contract.
If problems or recurring issues do arise, there are ways to manage and handle conflict outside of a formal grievance procedure. Strategies for this include:
- Talk the issue over with the person in question. Meet somewhere you won’t be interrupted at a time that’s convenient to you both.
- Focus on the specific instances, events or behaviours that are causing the problem, not the individual. For example, say “When this happens…” and not “When you do this…”.
- Listen to the other person’s response without interrupting or reacting. Make sure you fully understand their response before you respond, ask them to clarify if necessary.
- Summarise the points you disagree on or the areas of conflict and ask them if they agree with your assessment.
- Discuss the areas of conflict that are most in need of a resolution.
- Focusing on the future, develop a plan to work through each issue.
- Maintain a positive attitude and continue with the discussion until you have worked through each of the issues.
- Set up another meeting to discuss the progress of the resolution plan.
- If you cannot reach a solution to your problems without outside intervention, proceed to a formal grievance procedure.
If your grievance cannot be resolved through an informal discussion, you should then raise a formal complaint in accordance with the company’s Grievance Procedure. Speak to your line manager or HR representative or talk to your trade union if you have one.
A typical grievance procedure follows these steps:
- Understanding your options. A formal complaint must be dealt with fairly and consistently. If your employer does not have a formal grievance procedure process, then you can follow the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) Code of Practice.
- Raising a formal grievance. You should gather as much supporting evidence as possible to support your case and put this in writing. Include what you want your employer to do about the issue.
- Responding to a formal grievance. Your employer has a responsibility to treat all grievances with fairness and equality. Written records should be kept of any actions taken and why.
- The grievance meeting. This should be held within five working days of your formal complaint and should be attended by a third party who can take notes and act as a witness if required. You have ‘the right to be accompanied’ by a colleague or trade union representative. You will need to explain your grievance and show your evidence. To make a fair decision, your employer may need time to investigate, and a second meeting may be required to discuss the matter further.
- Deciding the outcome. Your employer’s decisions must be given in writing and should be based upon the evidence presented and findings made. The outcome should be fair and reasonable. If you are not happy with the outcome, you have the right to appeal.
- After the grievance procedure. All details of any grievance must remain confidential, however, where appropriate, your employer should speak privately with any employees involved in the grievance.
You must speak up if you feel you’re being unfairly treated or being discriminated against, if there is a health and safety issue, law breaking, environmental damage or the cover up of any wrongdoing at your place of work.
It is important that you understand your rights when it comes to conflict management. If dealt with correctly and fairly, conflict at work can often be resolved through an informal discussion and working together to find a solution.
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