Can I be sacked for raising a grievance?

Andrew Boast
6 min read
Can I be sacked for raising a grievance? | Explained by Employment Law Friend
A grievance is a process whereby you put in a formal or official complaint to your employer about something at work.

It can be about anything connected with work, including procedures not being followed for a disciplinary or redundancy, someone bullying you, or needing different equipment to perform your role. 

Most employers have a written grievance process, which generally very closely follows the ACAS grievance procedures.

Some employers explicitly have an informal or first stage grievance process to try and resolve matters in a less “business like” way.

Even if your employer does not explicitly set this out in their grievance procedure, it can still be tried, and is often easier and quicker as a means of resolving difficulties. 

It also can reflect well on you to have attempted to this, even if it did not succeed. If an informal process does not work, or is not appropriate because of the seriousness of what has occurred, then you can use your employers grievance process.

Dismissing someone because of a genuine grievance will never be fair, and will always lead someone to having a good claim of unfair or wrongful dismissal. 

The only time that there would not apply is if a grievance was not genuine – for example if it was found you had deliberately lied in a grievance to try and get at someone else, then that would be misconduct and could result in a dismissal.

Is it worth raising a grievance at work?

Whether you “should” raise a grievance, informally or formally, is only really a matter you can decide. 

You need to consider the issue at hand, whether it is likely to resolve without you taking such action, and the extent to which you can put up with it or move on without changing it. There is no right or wrong answer to this, because situations will vary so much.

Putting in a grievance always escalates matters, and there are times where this may not be in your interests overall.

What happens if a grievance is raised during disciplinary action?

When a grievance is raised during a disciplinary process, an employer has a choice about whether to pause the disciplinary process and investigate the grievance first, investigate both together, or investigate both at the same time, but do so as separate processes.

In principle an employer might investigate the disciplinary first and put the grievance on hold whilst this is ongoing, but this is exceptionally rare. Which of these options is chosen it up to the employer, and depends on the extent to which your grievance and disciplinary overlap.

For example, if a grievance is about the procedures used in the first part of a disciplinary hearing, an employer will typically say that should be considered in the ongoing disciplinary matter or an appeal of that, because it is the same issue: they do not want to investigations into the same issue, or to pause the disciplinary process unnecessarily.

If they are completely unrelated then an employer may conduct the two side by side. There are times where it is appropriate to suspend the disciplinary and consider the grievance first, if the grievance is about something different from the disciplinary, but the findings on the grievance might be important in understanding the disciplinary.

For example if you are facing a disciplinary at work and put in a grievance that the findings made during your disciplinary investigation were not fair because they were done by your manager, and you had a separate grievance relating to that manager, and their conduct towards you, then it would normally be right to suspend the disciplinary hearing and investigate the grievance first.

Can an employer refuse to hear a grievance?

Providing you are still an employee it is exceptionally rare for an employer to not hear and investigate your grievance. That said, there is no legal right for your grievance to be heard, although if your complaint ever proceeds to an employment tribunal then this will not only reflect very badly on your employer but very likely increase any compensation you are awarded by up to 25%.

What are my rights if a grievance is raised against me?

If someone raises a grievance against you, then there are two distinct processes that will happen. The first process is the grievance process which is on behalf of the person who raised the grievance. 

You will very often be interviewed as a part of this, but that is not always necessary, depending on what other evidence is available.

Typically, you will not receive the grievance outcome, because it was not your grievance. The second process, which does not always take place, is if your employer decides subsequent to investigating the grievance, to then start a process with you, typically a disciplinary process.

You do not have any particular rights when a grievance is raised you (although very often an employer will allow you to be accompanied to any meetings by a colleague or Trade Union (TU) rep, they do not have to), but you do have more rights if the process turns into a disciplinary process, at which point you do have the right to be accompanied at any meetings by a colleague or TU rep, for example.

It is important to be aware of this because anything you say or do when being interviewed during the grievance process could potentially form part of the evidence used in a latter disciplinary process.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you raise a grievance in good faith your employer should not discipline you as a result. If they do, they may be in breach of Acas' Code of Practise.

However, raising unfounded or malicious grievances which are disruptive to your workplace and a waste of company time may well result in disciplinary action.

Knowingly raising a false grievance of a serious enough nature may amount to gross misconduct.
It would be unfair for your employer to dismiss you for bringing a genuine grievance. If you have been dismissed because of a grievance you have made in good faith, contact us now to see how we can help.

If someone else has raised a grievance against you and you are found to have committed misconduct or gross misconduct, you may be at risk of dismissal.
Often raising a grievance can increase your stress at work. You should also consider whether you would be happier finding a new job (you could still raise the grievance when you leave) or whether you believe your employer will make the necessary changes to resolve the issue.

Sadly, just because the law protects you from victimisation - doesn't stop all employers from mistreating employees who don't 'toe the line'
If you are facing detriment because of a grievance you have made in good faith, contact us now to see how we can help.

After raising the grievance, the employer and employee will meet to discuss the matter. The grievance procedure will vary in length and complexity depending on the seriousness of the allegations and the number of incidents or individuals involved. If you, the employee, do not agree with your employer's decision, you have the right to appeal.

Have you been sacked for raising a grievance?
If you raised a grievance in good faith and have been victimised or dismissed as a result, get in contact with us and see how we can help.

Employment Law Specialist | Competitive Quotes | Straight Talking Legal Support

This content is provided free of charge for information purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. No responsibility for the accuracy and/or correctness of the information and commentary set out in the article, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed or accepted by any member of our company. For employment law advice please get in contact and speak to your employment law solicitors.
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