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Guide to making a grievance against your employer

A workplace grievance is any concern, problem, or complaint that you, as an employee, raise with your employer. Possible issues giving rise to a grievance include but are not limited to issues concerning pay and benefits, working conditions, workloads, and office bullying. These types of issues can often have a detrimental effect on your mental health and your ability to carry out your work so it is important that they are raised with your employer in a proper and effective manner. It is also equally important that your employer takes your grievance seriously and deals with it as such, regardless of whether they believe it to be valid or not.  

Why make a grievance against your employer? 

Raising a grievance should have the intention of trying to solve your workplace issue with your employer before it escalates and leads to more serious consequences. In this way, raising a grievance acts as a marker in the sand of why you are not happy within your work environment and gives your employer a chance to remedy the issue. Furthermore, the grievance process allows you to set out your complaints before your employer can take further action, if you suspect that you may be at risk of a being made redundant.  

Finally, whilst failing to raise a grievance with your employer does not prevent you from bringing an employment tribunal claim against them, it does mean that if the tribunal finds that the dispute could have been resolved by the making of a grievance, any damages awarded to you as a result of the tribunal can be reduced by up to 25%. 

First step: Informal Discussions 

Many workplace issues are best dealt with on an informal basis by speaking to your manager or, if you do not feel comfortable discussing the issue with them, then another senior member of the business. If appropriate, this approach can avoid the drama of following a formal grievance procedure whilst still achieving the aims of solving the issues which you had. As a result, you should always consider whether the matter is best dealt informally or not before thinking about embarking on any more serious steps. 

It should also be noted that it is open at any time in the grievance process for both parties to enter into mediation with an independent and impartial third party to try and resolve this issue. Mediation is voluntary and confidential and their decision or views of the mediator do not have to be accepted by either you or your employer. Mediation may also be unsuitable for those issues requiring a formal investigation, such as discrimination.  

Second step: Following a Formal Procedure 

In cases where your complaint or concern is not suitable to be dealt with informally or if you have raised the issue informally and you do not feel satisfied by your employers actions in response, it may be necessary to raise a formal grievance. This should be done in accordance with your employers formal grievance policy and employees are typically expected to raise the grievance and take any actions expected of them as soon as they can.  

Your employers grievance procedure should follow the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) Code of Practice, which sets out the standards of fairness and reasonable behaviour that employers and employees are expected to follow when dealing with a dispute. If your employer does not have their own policy, then the Acas Code should be followed in any event. 

This procedure will typically entail lodging your grievance with the relevant individual in the business, often an HR officer, and setting out in as much detail why you are lodging a formal grievance. 

Third Step: Grievance Meetings and Appeal 

Following receipt of your grievance, your employer should carry out any necessary investigations into your grievance before informing you of a time and place for a grievance meeting. The aim of this meeting is to establish the facts and find a way to resolve the problem. You will be given a chance to comment on what is raised and after the meeting, your employer should inform you of their decision in regards to the issue as well as how to appeal their decision.  

Appealing the decision will entail another meeting where, if possible, a different manager should handle your appeal. Otherwise, this will be carried out in a similar fashion to the original grievance meeting only you will have made it clear why you are appealing their decision. Following this meeting, your employee should set out their final decision to you.   

Employment Tribunal 

If you have tried dealing with your issues at work but to no avail, you may want to consider making an employment tribunal claim. As mentioned, you can make a claim without having first made a grievance but this can reduce the damages awarded to you by 25%. If you are considering going to the employment tribunal, you should be aware that any claim must be made with 3 months minus 1 day from the event you are complaining of.   

The information on this website is intended as a guide and does not constitute legal advice. Vardags do not accept liability for any errors in the information on this website, nor any losses stemming from reliance upon the statements made herein. All articles and pages aim to reflect the legal position at time they were published, and may have been rendered obsolete by subsequent developments in the law. Should you require specialist advice, tailored to your situation, please see how Vardags can help you.

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