A grievance is something every employee is entitled to raise if they have a complaint at work. Any employee, at any level, is at liberty to raise a grievance.
WHAT IS A GRIEVANCE
Put simply, a grievance is a complaint made to your employer. On most occasions it should be treated as a formal complaint and needs to be properly investigated. A grievance can relate to pretty much any level of complaint you have which is related to work. Just a few examples are listed below:
HOW TO PREPARE YOUR GRIEVANCE
Ideally a grievance should be submitted in writing (although it can also be made verbally). The grievance should clearly set out all your complaints. The more detail you provide, the more likely the investigation will uncover relevant evidence. For each and every complaint you have, you should try and provide the following information:
Given the significance of raising a grievance, we recommend that you consider sending the grievance to us or another adviser before submitting it, to ensure it best presents your complaints. If the grievance is unresolved, the timing and drafting of the grievance can be critical to your exit strategy or Employment Tribunal claim.
Each company should have a grievance policy. You should request a copy of the grievance policy or procedure immediately. The grievance procedure will usually provide you with information about how your employer says they will handle your grievance.
Before a grievance hearing takes place, an employer should first carry out a grievance investigation. The investigation should be carried out by a member of staff who is not in any way involved or linked to those named in the complaints. The investigation should include an interview with you and all witnesses. You should provide a copy of all evidence you have in your possession, whilst highlighting other relevant evidence to be considered. Once complete, you should be sent the grievance investigation report, along with all evidence gathered as part of the investigation. You should consider the grievance investigation report and any evidence referred to in it carefully, and provide your written comments on it. If you are concerned that it is biased, incomplete or inadequate, this may be an indication that the outcome is predetermined. You should raise your concerns about this immediately and, without delay, get in touch with us for advice and guidance.
RIGHT TO BE ACCOMPANIED
You have a legal right to be accompanied to a grievance hearing by either a work colleague or trade union representative. If there are good reasons for it (such as being unwell) you can ask to be accompanied by a friend or family member, but this will be at the discretion of the company.
Following the grievance hearing, the grievance officer will present their findings and any recommendations. Your will usually be told if your complaints are going to be upheld, partially upheld or rejected. If any of your complaints are upheld, the grievance officer should present recommendations for corrective action. If your grievance is upheld, the recommendations need to be adequate to remedy your concerns. Very often, the employer’s recommendations are inadequate, and this leads to further problems.
If you are unhappy with the grievance outcome or recommendations, you should always exercise your right to appeal. The grounds of appeal are very important. If the matter is not resolved by this stage, we strongly recommend you ask us to either prepare or review the appeal before it is submitted to your employer.
IMPACT OF PURSUING A GRIEVANCE AT WORK
Grievance proceedings can cause additional pressure on what may already be a strained relationship with colleagues or the employer. This can make the prospect of going to work even more stressful. If you are suffering from increased stress symptoms as a result of the workplace, do not let it go untreated for too long. Reach out to your doctor if necessary. As part of your terms and conditions of employment, you are entitled to sick pay, so use it to help get some distance from the situation.
If you are considering pursuing a grievance or grievance appeal, please do not try and manage this process on your own. We are experts in advising employees and provide practical solutions and a way forward. If you feel the outcome of the grievance hearing is predetermined or simply no longer want to carry on working for the company, we strongly recommend you also read our Exit Planning page.
If you have been forced to resign as a result of your complaints, we recommend you also read our Employment Tribunal page.