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Overview of the Grievance procedure

This document is GDPR compliant.

Show staff that you are a responsible employer with a clear and fair grievance procedure for dealing with workplace grievances. Every good employer knows that trust and confidence is a two-way street, and that this is helped by having a proper process in place for handling grievances. This grievance policy explains all stages of the process and covers key issues such as investigation, suspension, confidentiality, companions, hearings, evidence and appeals.

Use this grievance procedure

  • to comply with the legal requirement to provide employees with information about how grievances will be dealt with
  • to help managers understand how to deal with grievances correctly and lawfully
  • only for employees based in England, Wales or Scotland

This grievance procedure covers

  • what the policy is intended to achieve
  • the stages of a grievance process (informal; initial decision; appeal)
  • the procedural safeguards which will be applied to ensure grievance processes are fair
  • the role of the employee's companion at a grievance hearing
  • the non-contractual status of the policy and the employer's right to vary it

Any problems, issues or concerns which an employee encounters in the workplace are referred to as grievances. A written grievance procedure essentially sets out the steps that should be taken - both by the employee and employer - in order to address grievances, including:

  • Who the employee should contact in the first instance (eg. line manager) about their grievance and how they should be contacted;
  • Who the employee should talk to if this first point of contact is the subject of their grievance (eg. if they are being bullied by their line manager);
  • What happens if the problem cannot be resolved informally (eg. holding grievance hearings);
  • How to appeal the decision of a grievance procedure; and
  • What happens if the grievance is raised in the course of disciplinary action.

A grievance procedure should also clearly state that the employee is entitled to be accompanied at any grievance hearings by a colleague or union representative.

All employers are legally obliged to provide at least a minimal grievance procedure to all employees (stating who should be contacted about a grievance and how), even if this is just included as part of their written statement of employment. A more comprehensive grievance procedure not only helps employees to understand how and when to raise a grievance, but also ensures that managers handle grievances properly and keep in line with the Acas Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures. This Acas Code sets out minimum standards for handling grievances and should be reflected by a company’s grievance procedure; employers who fall foul of the Code can be subject to an increase of 25% in any award imposed by an employment tribunal.

Workers have a right to be accompanied at any grievance hearing by:

  • One of the worker’s colleagues;
  • A trade union official; or
  • An experienced workplace trade union representative.

Although the companion does not have the right to answer on the worker’s behalf, they can address the meeting, confer with the worker and respond to views expressed at the hearing.

In the first instance, employees should normally talk to their line manager if they have any workplace concerns or complaints. However, sometimes it may be more appropriate to contact a more senior manager or the HR manager (eg. if the line manager is the subject of the grievance). If an informal chat fails to satisfactorily address the issue at hand, a formal grievance should then be raised with the line manager, HR manager or someone more senior.

If an employee raises a serious grievance against a colleague, it may be necessary to bring disciplinary proceedings against the accused worker. In the case of gross misconduct (eg. violence) then the accused employee may be suspended while investigations take place.

Following a grievance meeting, an employer must write to the employee who raised the grievance, setting out their decision as well as the reasons behind it. They should also specify the appeals process and deadline. All employees are entitled to appeal the outcome of an initial grievance hearing.

Although the process of the appeal hearing is generally the same as the initial hearing, any new evidence should be considered, as well as the reasoning behind the appeal. If possible, an appeal hearing should not be heard by the same person who conducted the initial grievance hearing.

Ask a lawyer for:

  • employees based outside England, Wales or Scotland

This grievance policy and procedure complies with the statutory ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures.

This document is also sometimes called: Grievance procedure

Grievance policy, Complaints procedure and Grievance process.