Does management have to pay union officials for all of the time spent investigating and processing grievances during company work hours?
The answer is yes in almost every case. Being that there are so many different labor sectors ranging from mining, to manufacturing, to education, among hundreds of others, there may be a few exceptions. However, most workers' unions share similar guidelines and demand similar rights from employers. Hence, the time spent investigating grievances is compensated time. Moreover, the union stewards assigned to investigate the case may be released from their full-time, regular duties at the corporation and invest this time fully toward the investigation.
To illustrate an example, the UE represents the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America. According to this particular bargaining union,
Union Stewards shall have the right to investigate grievances and represent employees during working hours. The Steward shall be paid at his/her regular rate of pay. Employees shall be paid their regular rate of pay while attending a grievance meeting or investigating a grievance with their union steward.
This practice allegedly benefits the employer as well as the employee because, by allotting this time to focus on the grievance, the process is said to be resolved at a faster rate.
In a separate example, the Unit Five Educator's Association also states in Article 4 of their guidelines
During any arbitration hearing, the individual grievant shall be released from regular assignment without loss of pay, and Association representative(s), not to exceed two, may appear at the arbitration hearing..
However, this exception is made:
providing the Association shall reimburse the district the cost of the substitute.
Like stated previously, each bargaining union has specific needs. In an Educator's bargaining union the time spent away from the classroom results in the hiring of a substitute which costs the school district money. In this case, as seen above, the union has to pay the district back for the work hours of the substitute teacher. This may not be the case in every school district but it is a good example that explain how diverse each bargaining union can be.
Overall, the process of grievance can certainly be conducted during work hours and, for this reason, it will be compensated time.