Understanding the grievance process is crucial if you wish successfully to raise a grievance with your employer. Once you have tried raising a matter verbally or informally in writing, and there is still no resolution, then it is time to consider instigating a formal written grievance process.
Taking this serious step may mean that you have already decided to leave your job. Or perhaps you just want to record the fact that you have been mistreated.
The difference between submitting a formal grievance and an informal email may be quite a small difference. On paper, they would both set out your complaint – but there is a big difference in practice. This is because the ACAS code of practice sets out a procedure which employers should follow upon receipt of a grievance letter.
What is the correct procedure that employers (and you) should follow when an employee raises a grievance?
1. Grievance Letter
You will be invited to a meeting, and given the chance to bring a colleague or a union rep. This is supposed to happen a reasonable length of time after the grievance letter is submitted. If your employer is delaying, then send them an email reminding them of their duty under the ACAS code.
This meeting will probably be attended by a manager and an HR person who will take notes. You should make sure that you take your own notes, in as much detail as possible, or preferably your colleague should take notes. As soon as possible after the meeting, type your notes up, adding any detail which you remember. Then send a copy of your notes to your employer’s HR person inviting them to comment.
Anything which is not written down will inevitably become lost in the sands of time and by the time you reach a tribunal hearing both sides will have completely different recollections of what was said at any given meeting. This advice applies to any type of meeting, including Without Prejudice meetings.
3. Outcome Letter
Your employer will send you an outcome letter (99% of the time this will dismiss your grievance). Again, this should be within a reasonable amount of time after the meeting. This letter should outline your right to appeal.
It is supposed to set out why your grievance was not upheld. This has the advantage of committing your employer to state their reasons for making your life hell at an early stage, so later on they can’t change their story too much.
4. Grievance Appeal Letter
You can normally appeal to higher management / a different boss (so long as your company is big enough).
This grievance appeal letter is similar to the initial grievance letter, but is your chance to comment on the Outcome letter. There is an appeal template in our grievance templates pack here.
5. Grievance appeal meeting
As for point 2. above
6. Grievance appeal outcome
As for point 3. above
7. Next steps
Issue tribunal proceedings on form ET1 (Employment Tribunal Form)
Top 3 Tips
- Always put your grievance in writing
- Attend a meeting
- Be prepared to appeal – 99% of grievances are dismissed by the employer
There are several advantages of engaging in the grievance process rather than just resigning
1. It is a chance for your employer to suggest a settlement agreement
During the grievance procedure is the perfect opportunity for your employer to offer you a settlement agreement. They will be forced to think about your case at the time, and will not want to spend unnecessary hours doing unproductive grievance hearings.
In addition, they probably don’t really want employees who put in grievances as it could affect the rest of the work force. What better timing for them to offer you a settlement agreement?
2. It allows you to set the record straight
When the letters go back and forth, it makes both sides think about exactly what has happened and set out their explanation for it. So your employer will have to nail their colours to the mast.
This could prove very useful later on in the tribunal itself. It also gives you the formal opportunity to have your questions answered in writing rather than being fobbed off in endless meetings.
3. You could be awarded compensation
If you do go to tribunal and win, the tribunal can award you additional compensation if your employer has failed to follow the grievance process correctly.
Similarly, if you have failed to follow it then your compensation can be reduced. The range of possible adjustment is 0-25%.
4. It could help you prove procedural unfair dismissal
If you are dismissed, it will help you to prove a claim for unfair dismissal if you can show that the proper procedure was not followed, so by doing this now you are helping yourself later on. The better the chance you have at tribunal, the more likely it is that you will be offered a decent settlement agreement (whether or not you actually have any intention of going to tribunal).