Table of contents

Who this information could be useful to

This information will be useful to employees who have  a complaint about the way that they are being treated in the workplace or wish to raise a complaint about the way that someone they work with is being treated.

Not all workers are employees. You may not be classified as an “employee” if you are:

  • Self-employed
  • Working at home; or
  • An agency worker

If you’re not an employee or you’re not sure whether you are an employee then you will need to obtain legal advice before using this information or submitting a grievance. You can get advice from one of the organisations listed under Further help or, alternatively, you can call Direct 2 Lawyers on 0845 544 1395.

What is a grievance

You may have a grievance if you believe that you have been treated unfairly at work. If you do have such a problem then you may want to take this up with your employer – this is termed as “raising a grievance”. You might want to raise a grievance in the following circumstances (among others):

  • If you think that you’ve been discriminated against by your colleagues because of your age, race, disability, sex or sexuality (among other things)
  • If you think that you’ve been bullied by your colleagues
  • If you think that you’ve been treated unfairly at work – for example, you’re not given a promotion when you think you should have been or have been demoted when you don’t think you should have been (among other things); and/or
  • If you think that your contract of employment has been breached – for example, if you think that you have not been paid your correct salary

It may be possible to sort out your grievance informally with your employer – please see Dealing with your grievance informally.

If it is not possible to deal with your grievance informally then you may wish to raise a formal grievance – please see How to raise a formal grievance.

If you can’t resolve your grievance formally or informally then you may wish to make a complaint to the employment tribunal – please see [LINK]. You should follow your grievance procedure at work through before making a claim to the employment tribunal as the tribunal may reduce any compensation that you are awarded if you do not do so first.

Grievance procedures

Your employer should put their grievance procedure in writing and share it with all its staff (normally by putting it on the company intranet or in your staff handbook). The grievance procedure should set out:

  • How you can submit a written grievance to your employer
  • Who you should send any grievance to
  • How long it should take for your employer to respond to any grievance
  • That a meeting with your employer will take place to discuss the grievance
  • How you can appeal your employer’s decision, if necessary
  • How long each stage of the grievance process should take

Your employer should follow the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinaries and Grievances.

Dealing with your grievance informally

Before raising a formal grievance, you should try to resolve the problem informally (if possible).

The best way of dealing with your grievance informally is to ask your immediate line manager for a meeting so you can explain the problems you are having. If your line manager is the person or one of the people that you have a grievance against then you should address your complaint to another appropriate manager.

If it is not possible to resolve your complaint by talking to your employer informally then you may wish to raise a formal grievance or, if this is not successful, consider making an employment tribunal claim.

How to raise a formal grievance

If your employer has a formal grievance procedure then you should consult this before submitting a grievance and follow the business’ procedure.

If your employer does not have a formal grievance procedure then you should generally do the following (if appropriate):

  • Submit a written grievance letter to your employer detailing what complaints you have – please see Writing a grievance letter below.
  • Attend a grievance meeting with your employer
  • Appeal against any decision to your employer

Writing a grievance letter

You can find a helpful blog post on how to write a grievance letter on this website – please see How to write a grievance letter.

Download a copy of our template grievance letter

Dealing with the grievance meeting

Your employer should arrange a meeting to discuss your grievance. This grievance meeting should be at a reasonable time and a reasonable place, and your employer should postpone the meeting if there is a good reason why you can’t make it.

Your employer should inform you that you are allowed to bring a colleague or a trade union representative to the grievance meeting.

Your employer should give you the opportunity to explain your grievance and to suggest a means by which your grievance can be resolved. After the grievance meeting, your employer should write to you and inform you of the outcome of the grievance. You should also be informed that you can be appeal and have details of to whom you can appeal and in what time frame.

Appealing your grievance

If you don’t agree with your employer’s decision after the grievance meeting, then you should write a letter of appeal. A helpful explanation of what should be contained in a grievance appeal letter can be found on the following page: How to write a grievance appeal letter. You should explain in this letter:

  • That you are appealing against the grievance decision
  • Why you are appealing against the grievance decision

Getting advice on your workplace problem

You can obtain legal advice on your grievance from the following sources:

Making an employment tribunal claim

If you have gone through the formal grievance process to try and sort out your workplace problem and have not achieved any results then you may wish to consider making an employment tribunal claim. Although it is not essential, it is important to raise a formal grievance with your employer before you make an employment tribunal claim as the tribunal may reduce your compensation if you fail to submit a formal grievance first.

Employment Tribunals resolve disputes between employers and employees.

You should submit your claim to the Employment Tribunal within three months less one day of the last date on which the event you are complaining of occurred (e.g. the breach of contract, act of discrimination or harassment, dismissal etc.).

Further help

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