Peer Review Panel is an arrangement in some organizations where the employers permit the employees to present their issues before an internal committee comprised of the employees itself. The function of the peer review panel is to evaluate disciplinary actions, review them and make recommendations or take decisions. It is essential to a have an effective grievance and complaint handling mechanism within the organisation, so as to maintain employee satisfaction and motivation level.
The members of this panel are selected on a random basis from a pool of qualified employees. There is also a healthy inclusion of managers who have been trained to handle grievances. Thus, the members of the panel act as peers of any employee that is involved in review cases. The usual constitution of the panel is 5 members, out of which only 2 are from management. The decision that is taken by the panel is considered final and binding. However, the decision cannot be more severe than the decision that had be taken by the management and had eventually led to the appeal hearing by the panel.
The first step in the operation of the peer review panel is to provide the members with necessary documentation pertaining to the case, which is followed by a review of all the witnesses of the case. The members have the right to question each participant of the hearing, and collect additional data as per requirement from the management. The panel members then discuss each aspect of the case in confidentiality and vote by secret ballot. Each member of the panel has to review and approve the final decision.
There are some issues which cannot fall under the purview of a peer review panel. They include changes in stock or incentive plans, reduction in workforce, revisions to company policies or other legal obligations with respect to the organisation.
If a peer review panel has been designed effectively and employees have considerable confidence in the mechanism, it has several advantages.
1. Encourages open, two-way communication between the employees.
2. Improves employees’ understanding of organisation and management’s understanding of possible employee issues.
3. Results in a final resolution which cannot be appealed further within the organisational setup.
4. It documents every facet of the case to ease the process if the issue is appealed again, to an external party like Labour Court.