18.1 To promote positive working relationships and better communications, employees and their supervisors shall informally meet and discuss employee claims of Merit Rule or Merit law violations prior to filing a formal grievance. Merit employees have the right to use this grievance procedure free of threats, intimidation or retaliation, and may have union or other representation throughout the process.
18.2 A “grievance” means an employee complaint about the application of the Rules or the Merit System law (29 Del.C. Chapter 59), which remains unresolved after informal efforts at resolution have been attempted. A grievance shall not deal with the substantive policies embodied in the Merit System law.
18.3 An employee who is in a bargaining unit covered by a collective bargaining agreement shall process any grievance through the grievance procedure outlined in the collective bargaining agreement. However, if the subject of the grievance is nonnegotiable pursuant to 29 Del.C. §5938, it shall be processed according to this Chapter.
18.4 Failure of the employing agency to comply with time limits shall automatically move the grievance to the next step unless the parties have a written agreement to delay, or grievants have opposed in writing moving the grievance automatically to the next step. Failure of the grievant to comply with time limits shall void the grievance. The parties may agree to the extension of any time limits or to waive any grievance step. Grievances about demotions for just cause, suspensions or dismissals shall start at Step 2 within 14 calendar days in the manner set forth in 18.7.
18.5 Grievances about promotions are permitted only where it is asserted that (1) the person who has been promoted does not meet the job requirements; (2) there has been a violation of Merit Rule 2.1 or any of the procedural requirements in the Merit Rules; or (3) there has been a gross abuse of discretion in the promotion.
18.6 Step 1: Grievants shall file, within 14 calendar days of the date of the grievance matter or the date they could reasonably be expected to have knowledge of the grievance matter, a written grievance which details the complaint and relief sought with their immediate supervisor. The following shall occur within 14 calendar days of receipt of the grievance: the parties shall meet and discuss the grievance and the Step 1 supervisor shall issue a written reply.
18.7 Step 2: Any appeal shall be filed in writing to the top agency personnel official or representative within 7 calendar days of receipt of the reply. The following shall occur within 30 calendar days of the receipt of the appeal: the designated management official and the employee shall meet and discuss the grievance, and the designated management official shall issue a written response.
18.8 Step 3: Any appeal shall be filed in writing to the Director within 14 calendar days of receipt of the Step 2 reply. This appeal shall include copies of the written grievance and responses from the previous steps. The parties and the Director (or designee) may agree to meet and attempt an informal resolution of the grievance, and/or the Director (or designee) shall hear the grievance and issue a written decision with 45 calendar days of the appeal's receipt. The Step 3 decision is final and binding upon agency management.
18.9 If the grievance has not been settled, the grievant may present, within 20 calendar days of receipt of the Step 3 decision or of the date of the informal meeting, whichever is later, a written appeal to the Merit Employee Relations Board (MERB) for final disposition according to 29 Del.C. §5931 and MERB procedures.
18.10 Retroactive remedies shall apply to the grievant only and, for a continuing claim, be limited to 30 calendar days prior to the grievance filing date. Any financial settlement shall be reduced by the amount of the grievant's earnings during the period covered by the settlement regardless of source, excluding part-time income which was received prior to the separation.
18.11 Grievants may attend any meeting held pursuant to this Chapter without loss of pay; provided, however, grievance preparation and investigation time, and any discussion time with their grievance representative shall not be done during employee work time.