How to Raise a Grievance at Work

11 April 2016

A 'grievance' is when you have an issue, problem or complaint to make to your employer and there are a number of ways to approach raising the grievance with employers in England and Wales.

It is always good to raise the issue informally with your manager in the first instance and you can do this by requesting to speak to them. Be honest about the problem or issue and if you have a suggestion that would help resolve it and you feel comfortable to do so, you should raise it.

However, if the grievance issue at work is a serious one or your initial meeting has not resolved the problem, you should put your grievance in writing; either an email or letter, to outline your concerns in more detail and to confirm the key issues. Once your employer has received your grievance letter, your employer should arrange a formal meeting with you to discuss the problem as soon as they can.

Some of the reasons to raise a grievance at work include:

  • Health and safety problems
  • Relationship with your manager or colleagues
  • Changes happening at work such as working practices or new guidelines
  • The terms of your employment
  • Facing discrimination
  • Facing bullying or harassment

Some of these issues are extremely serious and by raising an official grievance with your employer, this will result in them having to investigate the issues you are facing at work.

Where the grievance issue you are raising involves a problem with a manager, you may wish to speak to the Human Resources (HR) department if there is one, or speak to the manager's manager. This is a difficult situation, particularly if you work in a small business but it is in your employer's best interests to deal with your grievance effectively or else they may face an Employment Tribunal claim.

Employers in England and Wales should have a grievance policy that outlines how they will deal with your grievance and this should be available for you to access. This could be linked with their disciplinary policy and the policy should be clear, specific and in writing as laid down by the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and workplace grievance procedures.

These same guidelines state that your employer should act consistently, carry out any necessary investigations to understand the issues involved, and that they have the right to be accompanied at the grievance hearing and have the right to appeal any formal decision made following the process.

The grievance meeting should be arranged as quickly as possible by your employer (normally within 5 working days) and you have a legal right to be accompanied to this meeting. You can be accompanied by a union representative, if you are a member, or by a fellow co-worker. Your employer can allow you to be accompanied by someone who is not in this category, but that is at their discretion.

Your employer should also consider whether they need to ask someone independent from the grievance to take notes and witness what is discussed at the meeting. This should help you to feel that there is independence in the meeting.

If the same grievance has been raised before by another employee, your employer should have details of this and how the grievance was resolved in those circumstances. In addition, your employer may want to make reasonable adjustments if you have a disability, employ the services of an interpreter if English is not your first language or even consider the use of mediation in relation to your grievance.

You should be given an opportunity in the meeting to state the reasons for your grievance and to also give your views on how it could be resolved. You may feel frustrated, annoyed and angry with your employer at this meeting, but do all you can to remain calm, professional and focused on getting across your points. It will probably help you to have a list of the points you would like to raise and any other comments you would like to make during the meeting.

This meeting is not a disciplinary hearing and every effort should be made by your employer to be open and discuss the issues freely, with the view to reaching a resolution.

Once the meeting is concluded, your employer should tell you when to expect a response and this may also be included in their grievance policy. Your employer should then advise you of the outcome in writing within the timescales they advised. This will outline exactly what they plan to do to resolve the grievance and will also outline the grievance appeals procedure.

If you appeal the grievance decision and feel that your grievance has still not been resolved, you should speak to one of our Employment Law Solicitors about your circumstances. They can advise you on what your possible next steps could be and whether you may have an Employment Tribunal claim.

Call our Employment Law Solicitors on 0161 855 8356 or contact us online and we will help you.

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