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Factsheet: How Employers Should Deal with Grievances

If your employee raises a grievance you need to make sure that you follow a fair process in order to investigate the complaint made and provide a written outcome. Not only does this help to resolve issues, it can also avoid Tribunal claims.

Please see below for a description of the procedures to follow in the event of a grievance.

Check your grievance procedure

Check your grievance procedure in order to comply with your internal processes and handle employee grievances correctly.. You should also make sure that you comply with the Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievances at Work. If you unreasonably fail to comply with the Acas Code you will be at risk of compensation being increased by up to 25% in any subsequent Tribunal claim.

Appoint an independent person to investigate the grievance

This should be someone impartial that is not involved in the grievance in any way. If this is not possible then ideally you should consider using a third party, e.g. an HR Consultant.

Invite your employee to attend a grievance hearing

A hearing should be held without unreasonable delay. This is an opportunity for your employee to explain their grievance and how they think it should be resolved. It is also an opportunity for the decision maker to ask any questions.

If appropriate, the decision maker may want to carry out further investigations. It may be prudent to adjourn and to then communicate the decision having fully investigated.

Allow your employee to bring a companion

You must allow your employee to bring a work colleague or trade union official or representative. This is a statutory right. The companion is there to give moral support to your employee, write notes and to ask questions on your employee’s behalf. They are not allowed to answer on your employees behalf.

Carry out further investigations if necessary

If your employee raises an issue that requires further investigation, for example they refer to an important witness that has not been questioned, then you should adjourn the meeting in order to carry out any necessary inquiries.

Provide a written grievance outcome

After investigations have been completed you should decide whether to uphold your employee’s grievance. This will be based on “the balance of probability” which is more likely than not (51%). This may be in full, in part, or not at all. You should explain the reasoning behind your decision making. You should also decide what action should be taken, if any, in order to resolve the issues.

Give the right to appeal

If your employee is not satisfied with the outcome of the grievance they have the right to appeal. Their right to do so should be detailed in the outcome letter and provide a timescale for submitting this in writing.

The appeal should be dealt with by holding an appeal hearing. The same duties as above apply in relation to allowing your employee to bring a companion. The appeal should, as far as possible, be dealt with by someone who was not involved in the original grievance.

If you need help dealing with a grievance raised by your employee, contact our experienced Employment Law Team today on 01273 609911, or email

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