How do I raise a formal grievance at work?

If you’re thinking of raising a formal grievance at work, we recommend that you take advice. It might be that you can still manage the process yourself, but you do need to have a clear idea of where you stand and what your options are. ACAS has developed a Code of Practice that sets out standards of fairness, and what is considered to be reasonable behaviour by both employers and employees (which you might not feel is reasonable… but unfortunately that is the way it is).

It’s also worth bearing in mind that with respect to making a claim to an employment tribunal, timing is critical. You have three months minus one day to make a claim from the date of the incident you’re complaining about. And you must be mindful of this timing, therefore, if you initiate a formal grievance because the clock starts ticking from the same point… whatever.

Must I follow the Code of Practice?

Not necessarily. However, if your case was to go to an employment tribunal, the tribunal may very possibly review whether it was reasonable of you to ignore the Code of Practice and assess compensation on their judgement of your situation in this respect.

What procedures should I follow?

Your employer will have a formal procedure for raising a grievance. You should be able to access this without it causing you concern; it’s likely to be in your company handbook and/or contract of employment, on your company intranet, or in freely available manuals in your office.

What should I do?

You should set out the particulars of your grievance in writing in the first instance. Provide details of the issue and make sure your letter is dated.

Your employer should then arrange to meet with you to discuss your grievance. You do have the right to be accompanied by a colleague or a trade union representative. At the meeting you should be allowed to explain your grievance, and also any options you propose for resolution. Your employer must then write to you afterwards to set out what they have decided.

What if I don’t agree with their decision?

Your next step, if you don’t agree with your employer’s decision, is to appeal to them in writing. You need to state that you’re appealing against their decision and explain why. Your employer should then arrange another meeting with you to discuss this; ideally overseen by a different and more senior member of staff. Again, you have the right to be accompanied to the appeal meeting, and your employer should write to you with their final decision.

If you’re still not happy, your next steps might be to look at mediation or making a claim to an employment tribunal. And that is something we will be writing about in the future.

How can we help?

If you’re looking to make a formal grievance to your employer, we recommend that you take advice to ensure you are fully aware of your rights and your options. This will enable you to seek the best form of resolution for your circumstances. Please do contact us; we’d be delighted to discuss your situation with you.



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