Staffing Management

What Is Peer Review and Do We Need It?

By Staff Report

Nov. 14, 2012

Dear Peer Pressure:

Peer review gives employees a way to resolve disputes in an effective, timely and dignified manner. The unique characteristic of the system is this: At the final step of the process, the employee can have the dispute reviewed by a panel consisting of managers and peers.

Define the panel makeup. The makeup of the panel will vary with each organization. The common thread is that peers on the panel outnumber managers. The most common panel makeup is two managers and three peers.

Choose panelists. Peer panelists are chosen at random from volunteers who have completed a training workshop. Management panelists may also be chosen at random or may be appointed as permanent members of the panel.

Grant authority, with limitations. Typically the panel has authority to make final and binding decisions on all disputed matters brought before it. The panel cannot, however, change company policy, pay rates, benefits or work rules. Some organizations have imposed other limitations on the panel as well, such as dealing with legal matters as well as zero-tolerance issues.

Conducting investigations, reaching decisions. The panel conducts a series of confidential and nonconfrontational, orderly interviews as a team to gather information. The panel then follows a structured process that focuses on the proper and consistent application of the policy or practice.

Commonly heard cases. Cases involving the application of personnel policies and practices are most common. Typical cases include discipline (up to and including discharge), job movement, safety, overtime and pay disputes (not involving rate of pay but issues such as improper overtime payment or lack of holiday pay).

Implementing dispute-resolution procedures. Senior management must commit to support and encourage the program. Next, put together an “implementation team” of employees, supervisors and managers. These folks should work with an experienced person in the development of the policies, procedures, communications and measurement systems to ensure the program’s success. Having access to the combined experience of many other peer review users helps to assure that the best elements of their systems can be incorporated into your new program.

SOURCE: Jack W. Hoffman, Caras & Associates Inc., Port St. Lucie, Florida

LEARN MORE:Please read “How Coors’ Peer Review Process Works.”

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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