If you’re suffering a problem at work then you may be enduring a stressful and confusing time. If you are suffering such a problem then you’ll want to try and stop

  1. Should I make a formal or an informal grievance?
  2. The circumstances in which you may want to submit a formal grievance
  3. How to write your formal grievance letter
  4. What should happen after I submit my grievance?
  5. What happens if my employer fails to deal with my grievance?

Should I make a formal or an informal grievance?

This really depends on the seriousness of the situation and how you think it can and will be resolved. If you think that you can resolve your problem by sitting down with your line manager and informally discussing your issue then that’s probably the best route to try first. The benefit of such an approach is that it is more discrete and may resolve in a quicker solution to your problem. However, an informal grievance may lead to your problem being ignored. In some circumstances it therefore may be advisable to submit a formal written grievance.

The circumstances in which you may want to submit a formal written grievance letter

It is advisable to submit a formal written grievance if your problem is particularly serious or important to you. It would therefore be advisable to submit a formal written grievance if any of the following circumstances are affecting you (among others):

  • You’re being bullied and/or harassed at work
  • You’re suffering sexual harassment at work
  • You’re suffering any kind of discrimination at work (whether this is age discrimination, sex discrimination, race discrimination etc.)
  • You think that your contract of employment may have been breached by your employer
  • You are worried about your health and safety or that of your colleagues
  • You’re aware that something unlawful or illegal has occurred at work
  • Your mental or physical health is being adversely affected by your job

How to write your formal grievance letter

Your letter should be addressed to your line manager, give the date that it’s written on and be titled “Formal grievance”. You should then outline below that you’re submitting a formal grievance as a result of the problems that you’ve been facing and put, in a bullet-point format, details of the problems that you’ve been suffering. For example, if you’ve been suffering health problems because of your workload then your grievance letter would look something like this:

Dear Sirs

Formal grievance

I am writing to tell you that I wish to raise a grievance.

This action is being considered with regard to the following circumstances:

  • My workload was increased significantly last year after a number of redundancies were made. The increase in my workload has caused me significant health problems and I have had to take extended periods of time off work because of this

You should then specify what result you are seeking to obtain by submitting the grievance (i.e. in the above example a reduction in the workload) and give a time period for a response.

Please use the below grievance letter template if you wish:

What should happen after I submit my grievance?

Your employer will normally inform you in writing that the grievance has been received. They may choose to undertake an investigation and will invite you to a hearing to discuss your grievance with you. You should prepare any relevant documentary and witness evidence that supports your case. The above steps should be taken within a reasonable time frame.

What happens if my employer fails to deal with my grievance?

If your employer fails to deal with them within a reasonable time frame then you may have a claim for constructive dismissal (and potentially even discrimination, but that depends on the facts) as your employer would be in breach of your contract of employment if they unreasonably fail to deal with your grievance.

Direct 2 Lawyers offer free employment law advice for employers and free employment law advice for employees. They use expert unfair dismissal solicitors to provide employment law advice and Employment Tribunal representation.

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The Direct 2 Lawyers Employment Team post daily on interesting employment law cases, Employment Tribunal judgments and Employment Appeal Tribunal judgments. All of the Employment Team posts are written by qualified specialist employment lawyers

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