Profile information Member settings
Sign up Sign in

Make your Appeal letter

Get started

What is an appeal?

An appeal is a process that allows an employee to challenge a decision made by their employer. When making an appeal, an employee generally seeks to have their employer’s decision either overturned or changed. 

Appeals form an essential part of employers’ grievance and disciplinary processes and help ensure employers comply with their legal obligations.

What types of employer decisions might an employee appeal?

Employees can appeal their employer’s decisions in various circumstances. For example, if the employee believes that:

There are various formal decisions that may be appealed by employees. However, the most popular concern:

It's a good idea for an employer to implement a Grievance procedure that outlines the right of appeal and the appeal process. In all circumstances, the Acas Code of Practice should be followed - except in cases of redundancy or the non-renewal of fixed-term contracts on their expiry, to which the Code does not apply.

How can an employee appeal an employer’s decision?

You should first check your employer's Grievance procedure and/or Employee handbook and follow the grievance procedure it sets out. If this does not exist or fails to deal with appeals, follow the Acas Code of Practice, except where it does not apply (ie in cases of redundancy or the non-renewal of fixed-term contracts).

You should then write and send a formal Appeal letter, setting out the grounds for your appeal. For example:

  • incorrect evidence being relied on 

  • new evidence having come to light

  • problems with the decision process

  • unfair selection grounds or incorrect reasons for redundancy

You should also set out what you would like your employer to do. For example, request that your employer: 

  • carries out another investigation, or

  • considers the new evidence you have found

You should submit your appeal as soon as possible and within the time period specified in your employer’s internal policy/procedure. If you do not have a set period within which to appeal, Acas recommends doing so within 5 working days of receiving the decision you’re appealing. 

Once you have requested an appeal, it is up to your employer to arrange for an appeal hearing. Bear in mind that you are entitled to be accompanied to your appeal hearing (eg a colleague or a trade union representative). 

If your employer fails to arrange a meeting, you may want to consider taking legal action such as going to an Employment Tribunal

For more information on employee appeals, Ask a lawyer.

How should an employer handle an appeal?

In general, there is no obligation for an employer to offer an appeals process. However, if a case ends up going to an Employment Tribunal, the employer may, ​​in certain scenarios, be penalised for failing to provide the right of appeal.

Employers should make sure to comply with their internal policies or procedures when addressing appeals. 

If no such policies exist, employers should follow the Acas Code of Practice. They should also consider adopting a formal grievance procedure, either as a distinct Grievance procedure or as part of an Employee handbook. This helps them comply with their legal obligation to provide at least a minimal process for raising grievances to all employees.

In all circumstances, it’s crucial that the appeals process is handled as fairly and transparently as possible

Arranging an appeal hearing

If an employer receives an appeal request, they should arrange an appeal hearing without unreasonable delay. Consider using an Invitation letter to a disciplinary appeal hearing for misconduct, an Invitation to a redundancy appeal meeting letter, or an Invitation letter to a poor performance appeal hearing, where appropriate.

When writing to the employee to confirm details of their appeal hearing, include:

  • when and where the hearing will take place

  • a reminder of their right to bring a companion to the hearing

  • who will be present at the hearing

  • what practical arrangements are being made for the hearing (eg any reasonable adjustments

The appeal hearing should generally be held in a similar way to the initial hearing. However, the person handling the appeal (and potential further investigation) should, where possible:

  • not have previously been involved in the case, and

  • be more senior than anyone who previously carried out any part of the case

Conducting the appeal hearing

The appeal hearing should involve:

  • everyone present at the hearing being introduced and and explanation of why they are present

  • an explanation of why the hearing is taking place, how it will be conducted, and what actions the person leading the appeal hearing can take

  • the employee being given an opportunity to explain why they making an appeal

  • looking at any new evidence presented

The person conducting the appeal hearing on behalf of the employer should also consider whether:

  • the original decision was fair

  • the original outcome needs to be changed

  • a new investigation is needed to find out more before making a final decision

Carrying out an investigation

If relevant, a further investigation may be needed to reassess the situation. For example, in order to:

  • find or look at new evidence the employee has raised

  • check the evidence originally found by the employer

  • talk to the people spoken to during the original investigation 

  • find and talk to new witnesses

Make sure to follow a clear and proper process when investigating a situation

A confidential report should be written based on what the investigation brings to light. Generally speaking, if an investigation uncovers new or more serious information about the employee, the seriousness of the original disciplinary outcome should not be increased, unless the employer’s disciplinary procedure allows this. Instead, a new disciplinary process could be started to investigate these new findings.

Communicating the outcome

Communicate the outcome of the appeal hearing to the employee in writing as soon as possible (eg within 24 hours). Set out why this decision was reached and whether it is a final decision.

Ask a lawyer

Get quick answers from lawyers, easily.
Characters remaining: 600
Rocket Lawyer On Call Solicitors

Try Rocket Lawyer FREE for 7 days

Get legal services you can trust at prices you can afford. As a member you can:

Create, customise, and share unlimited legal documents

RocketSign® your documents quickly and securely

Ask any legal question and get an answer from a lawyer

Have your documents reviewed by a legal pro**

Get legal advice, drafting and dispute resolution HALF OFF* with Rocket Legal+

Your first business and trade mark registrations are FREE* with Rocket Legal+

**Subject to terms and conditions. Document Review not available for members in their free trial.