Grievance Procedure: Raise a grievance at work

Caragh Bailey
6 min read
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Read on to find out the steps you should take and the length of the grievance procedure, plus how to appeal the grievance decision, if you are unhappy with it. Then, download a template grievance letter.

Jump ahead to some of our most frequently asked questions:

What are the steps of a grievance procedure?

    Have an informal discussion with your employer.
Be calm and reasonable, people are less cooperative when they feel criticised. If the issue is serious, or if you think an informal discussion would be unhelpful or make things worse, you can skip this step

    2 Raise a Grievance
  • If you are still unhappy: Write a letter to your employer titled formal grievance complaint, explaining your concerns.
  • Include a copy of any evidence you have and a request for what you would like your employer to do about it.
  • Include the date of the informal discussion, if there was one.
  • Keep a copy of this letter.

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Your employer should have a written grievance procedure which was made available to you with your contract of employment. This procedure will explain what happens next.

If your grievance relates to another person, or there are concerns about employees working together, they should consider a short term solution such as adjusting schedules or office arrangements until a decision has been reached.

The details of your grievance must be kept confidential. However, your employer must tell any employees who are being investigated as part of your grievance procedure that they are under investigation

If several employees wish to raise related grievances, it may be worth raising a ‘collective grievance’ instead. You can get advice from a trade union or workplace representative, or elect one of you to represent the group and raise the collective grievance yourselves.

    3 Grievance meeting: Your employer will hold a meeting for you to discuss the grievance

What can I expect at a grievance meeting?

This is your opportunity to explain your complaint, to provide any evidence that supports your grievance complaint and to tell your employer how you would like the problem to be solved. You may bring supporting documents (previous correspondence, evidence of the issue or supporting statements from other people).

Your employer must:
  • Listen to your grievance and make it clear to you that it will be handled fairly and consistently. (If a similar grievance has been raised before, they should follow the same fair procedure).
  • Allow you to bring a companion (colleague or union representative).
  • Provide an interpreter if you or your companion have difficulty speaking english
  • Make reasonable adjustments if you or your companion are disabled.
Your companion is allowed to:
Your companion must not:
  • Take notes
  • Speak for you
  • Set out your case
  • Talk to you throughout the meeting
  • Answer questions directed at you
  • Prevent anyone else at the meeting from making their case

If further investigation is required, your employer may end the meeting and schedule another one at a later date

It is best to attend the grievance meetings, as it may help your case if you go to the employment tribunal. If there are special circumstances the tribunal will take this into consideration. For example, you refuse to attend the meeting because you have accused the person holding the meeting of harassment.

After the meeting your employer should give everyone present a copy of the meeting record and notes taken (‘minutes’).

They must tell you when they intend to give you their decision, including any delays for investigation. This should be in line with your workplace grievance policy.

Your employer must carry out an investigation to thoroughly examine the evidence before making a decision. However, if the case is very simple and the evidence is clear and undisputable, the investigation may fit within the grievance meeting.

    Your employer will write to you to explain their decision, including:

How long should a grievance procedure take?

Ideally, your employer should set up a meeting within 5 working days of receiving your grievance, but this could take much longer.

If you have been waiting for over four weeks and feel that your grievance is being ignored, you may have a case of constructive dismissal.

Your employer should give you enough notice of the meeting for you to prepare, to gather any evidence and to organise a companion, if you’d like one.

The length of the grievance meeting itself will depend on the complexity of the grievance and the amount of evidence to review.

If further investigation must take place, the meeting may be stopped and rescheduled. The next grievance meeting should be held at the earliest suitable time after a reasonable period for all relevant further investigation.

Your employer should tell you, at the end of the meeting, how soon you can expect a decision.

Frequently Asked Questions
    1 Write to your employer, telling them that you are appealing and explaining why. For example:
  • The decision was wrong
  • The decision is not consistent with a similar grievance in the past
  • You have new evidence to support your complaint
  • The procedure was not carried out properly

    2 You should be offered a meeting to discuss your appeal.
  • This will be similar to your original meeting.
  • You have the right to be accompanied by a companion (colleague/union representative)
  • If possible this meeting should be held by a different person to your original grievance meetings.

    3 You will receive your employer’s final decision in writing as soon as possible. To reach a decision your employer must:
  • Hear your appeal
  • Check if the procedure was followed properly
  • Check if the outcome was fair
  • Consider any new evidence
  • Carry out another investigation, if necessary
  • Consider a more appropriate outcome, if there is one
  • Complete the above in a reasonable time period

    4 If the result of your appeal is still unsatisfactory, you can quit your job on grounds of constructive dismissal. You may be able to take your case to court.

Not being taken seriously by your employer?

If your employer isn’t handling your grievance properly, you can get in contact with us and see how we can help.

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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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