Expert Employment lawyers answer employees questions on grievances
A grievance is a letter of complaint against your employer. The main purpose of raising a grievance at work is to try and resolve problems. You should consider trying to do so informally at first instance, e.g. by speaking to your line manager. However, if this is not effective, you should raise a formal grievance in writing.
Check your employer’s grievance procedure first. If they do not have one, look at the Acas Code on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures. See our factsheet for guidance on how to raise a written grievance.
If the matter is straightforward you can probably raise a grievance on your own. However, if the matter is complicated, for example you are claiming discrimination in the workplace or suffering a whistleblowing detriment, it is advisable for you to obtain legal advice. This is in order to ensure that your grievance is as strong as possible and does not miss out aspects that you did not realise were important, e.g. those that show your employer has breached Employment Law.
Most grievance procedures state that you should submit the grievance to your direct line manager. However, if they are the person you are complaining about, you should submit the grievance to another manager, or the HR department, if there is one.
Yes, you can still raise a grievance. Your employer should put the disciplinary process on hold whilst the grievance is dealt with. Alternatively, they may deal with the grievance as part of the same process if the issues are interlinked, e.g. if you dispute the fact that you are being disciplined, or you want complain about how the disciplinary process is being handled.
You should not record a meeting without your employer’s consent. Most employers are unlikely to agree to allow you to record. As an alternative, you should make sure that your companion takes detailed minutes of the meeting. If you record the meeting without consent, you may not be able to use this as evidence in the event of a subsequent Tribunal claim as your employer could argue that it is inadmissible. A Tribunal would carry out a balancing exercise when deciding whether the evidence is allowed or not. For example, it may be admissible if the evidence is relevant to an important point and showed that your employer was being dishonest.
If you do not agree with the outcome of the grievance you have the right to appeal. You should be informed of the right to do this in the outcome letter. There is normally a deadline for doing so.
If you fail to raise a grievance, you miss out on the right to show that you dispute the way you have been treated. If you fail to appeal, you lose the opportunity to state why you do not agree with the outcome. If you subsequently make a successful Tribunal claim, you are at risk of having any future compensation reduced by up to 25%. Therefore, even if you have no faith that your employer will uphold your grievance or appeal, you should still submit one.
If your employer fails to deal with your grievance properly then your compensation may be increased by up to 25% if you are successful at a subsequent Tribunal claim. A complete failure to deal with a grievance can also constitute a breach of the implied term of trust and confidence, which could lead to a potential constructive dismissal claim.
You are protected from being treated unfavourably for raising a grievance that complains of discrimination. For example, if you were unfairly disciplined or even dismissed. This is known as victimisation.
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