Grievance meetings / hearings: advice for employees

This guide outlines what you can expect to happen at a grievance meeting or grievance hearing after you have 'raised a grievance' (ie made a formal complaint) about a serious issue affecting you at work.

    Do I Have a Case?

    Get an instant, free Case Analysis with strengths, weaknesses and next steps. From our award winning Monaco Solicitors AI.

    Get Started

    Verified Customer

    “This was the fastest and easiest service I’ve ever encountered…”


    Verified Customer

    “I am extremely impressed by how efficiently, supportive and productive my case was handled. Communication was excellent…”


    Verified Customer

    “From start to finish great service and a great result by Helen and her team 👍🏻”


    Verified Customer

    “Responsive, competent and friendly. Answered to my query straight away and helped me through a rather…”


    Verified Customer

    “I was very impressed with the amount of free information available on the Monaco Solicitors’ website…”


    Verified Customer

    “Sarah O’Brien went above and beyond. I was kept informed at every step and Sarah was always extremely…”


    Verified Customer

    “A first class service from start to finish. Gordon provided a sympathetic ear and invaluable advice.”


    Verified Customer

    “Helen has handled my case exceptionally well. The quality of service, advise and communication…”


    Verified Customer

    “Excellent, timely advice and went the extra mile to ensure that my settlement agreement was executed on time…”


    Verified Customer

    “This was the fastest and easiest service I’ve ever encountered…”

    Rated 4.8 Stars in Over 1,000 Reviews

    This guide gives you lots of useful tips on how to prepare for a grievance meeting – also known as a grievance hearing – what to do and say at the event and how to behave.

    See our overview guide on grievances at work for more about what a grievance is and when you might want to raise one.

    What is a grievance meeting or hearing?

    So, your attempts to resolve your grievance informally have failed. So you have exercised your employment right to raise a formal grievance by sending a formal letter outlining your complaint (see our article on how to write a grievance and examples). 

    Shortly afterwards, your employer should write back inviting you to a meeting to discuss your letter.  This is what’s usually referred to as a grievance meeting and sometimes also as a grievance hearing.

    You should get your employer’s written invitation a ‘reasonable’ length of time after your letter has been submitted.  (The Acas code on grievance procedures suggests 5 working days from the employer’s receipt of your grievance letter to the meeting taking place.) 

    If your employer is late in replying, then write to them – by email or letter – and draw their attention to their obligations under the ACAS code.


    Who attends a grievance meeting?

    Your employer should mention in their written invitation that you can take a companion (such as a colleague or a union representative) to this grievance hearing and we recommend that you take up that opportunity. 

    Your companion can take notes (see below), speak to you, and speak on your behalf if you want them to, although they are not permitted to answer questions that are specifically directed at you as the person who’s raised the grievance.

    From your employer’s side, the event will probably be attended by a senior manager who has been assigned to investigate your grievance, an HR person,  and possibly another person to take grievance meeting notes if the HR person doesn’t.


    What happens at the grievance meeting?

    A grievance meeting is not intended to be an adversarial event, which is why lawyers are not in attendance.

    It is an opportunity for you to talk through your grievance, raising all your concerns. Your employer is likely to have some questions for you to help them understand what your complaint is. You might also have some questions for them about their treatment of you.

    View our latest video guides

    Visit the Monaco Solicitors YouTube Channel

    YouTube Channel

    Grievance meeting procedure

    A typical grievance meeting might go something like this:

    1. The senior manager leading the grievance meeting will introduce everyone present and explain that this is a formal meeting, the main purpose of which is to give you an opportunity to amplify your written grievance so that your employer may fully understand it.

    2. You will be invited to speak about the main issues outlined in your written grievance, to share any further written evidence and to outline what you would like done to resolve the problem.  See ‘What should I say and do at a grievance meeting’ below for more on this.

    3. If you have any witnesses who have provided statements, then those statements can also be discussed at this meeting.

    4. Your employer’s representatives will want to seek clarification on some points and to ask further questions about related matters.

    5. The senior manager leading the meeting will close it when they believe that you have been given a fair opportunity to outline your grievance and that it has been fully understood by everyone present.


    Why should you take notes at your grievance meeting?

    The importance of taking notes when you are at your grievance hearing can’t be overemphasised.  You should make sure that you take your own notes, in as much detail as possible.  Your colleague/union representative could also take notes if they are any good at note-taking.  Here are some practical tips on how to go about taking such 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 and by the time you reach a tribunal hearing, both sides will have completely different recollections of what was said at the meeting. 
    • This advice applies to any type of meeting. Note-taking is a serious skill that lawyers are trained in for years. It sounds silly but in the heat of a grievance meeting notes may become a distraction, you may forget to keep on writing everything down or your handwriting may become illegible.
    • Have a go at writing really quickly and see if, for example, capital letters are easier for you to read back afterwards.
    • We recommend writing people’s initials in the margin to indicate who is speaking as there will inevitably be more than one person present. Include times in the margin every now and then, especially if it is going to be a long meeting.
    • One particularly helpful tip is to refer to the numbered paragraphs which you used in your grievance letter. That way it saves you from writing down the subject of each part of the discussion. You can just write ‘1’ for example.

    What happens after the grievance meeting?

    After the meeting, your employer should consider everything that you have said as well as the written grievance letter. They should then respond to your grievance in writing within a reasonable period.

    If the grievance is not upheld, then your employer must make clear that you have the right to appeal against the decision.

    Alex Monaco

    Top Tips

    Alex Monaco

    1. Take a companion to the meeting to ensure you record the exchange accurately

    2. Don’t discuss settlement during the meeting – there is another time and place for this

    3. Keep calm, remain polite and answer all grievance meeting questions honestly

    What should I do and say at a grievance meeting?

    To round off this article, we offer you a summary of what to do and what not to do at a grievance meeting or hearing:

    What you should do

    1] Be prepared

    Make sure that you have thoroughly read through your grievance before you attend the meeting as you will need to talk about it at the meeting.  Even better, prepare notes on what you want to say at the meeting.

    If you have any supporting statements from colleagues who can back up what you say then take these to the meeting, or better still send them to your employer in advance.

    If you have any documents which you wish to rely on and that your employer has not already seen, you should also send these in advance.


    2] Take notes

    Even if HR is taking grievance meeting notes, you should make sure that you take your own notes in as much detail as possible, as outlined earlier.


    3] Remain calm

    Understandably emotions can run high in grievance meetings – a lot can be at stake and your employer’s treatment of you was probably very upsetting.

    Try to remain calm in the meeting though as this will help you to answer any questions coherently and think logically.

    A good tip is to make sure you take a bottle of water with you. If you feel yourself getting emotional then a sip of water and a deep breath can make all the difference.


    4] Answer any questions honestly

    Don’t try and second guess why an employer is asking a particular question – just answer calmly, truthfully and honestly.

    If you take any other approach, then you could get into difficulties down the line particularly if there are inconsistencies in your account or if you end up being cross-examined in an employment tribunal – this could affect your credibility.


    5] Take a companion if possible

    It is really useful to take a companion (a colleague or union rep) with you to the meeting. From a psychological point of view, it can be very helpful for you to feel like you have someone on your side and supporting you.

    As mentioned earlier, your companion is there to support you, to help clarify anything, to make sure that the grievance hearing is being conducted fairly and to take notes as well.

    What you should not do

    1] Don’t try to enter into settlement negotiations during the grievance:

    Although a grievance meeting is confidential, if you end up going to an employment tribunal then the notes from the meeting can be used in evidence.

    If you start asking for settlement money in the meeting then it might look like you are not actually interested in resolving the issues. Whilst settlement might be your main objective, you don’t necessarily want a tribunal to know this.

    Therefore if the issue of settlement does arise, then tell your employer that you would be happy to talk about this but would prefer it to be part of a separate ‘without prejudice’ discussion (in other words, an off-the-record discussion).


    2] Don’t lose your temper

    As set out above, it is really important to remain calm. Lots of people do get tearful in grievance meetings and that is completely understandable. However, don’t lose your temper, get angry or shout as this could reflect extremely badly on you.


    3] Don’t secretly record the meeting

    Be wary about secretly recording a meeting with your employer. The meeting can provide useful evidence, but be careful, as it could even lead to being disciplined or dismissed in extreme cases.

    If you would like to record the meeting, then ask your employer for permission first. Give your employer reasons, for example, that you don’t have a companion to take a note, that you are dyslexic so might find it difficult to take a note yourself etc.


    4] Don’t forget to appeal

    If your grievance is not upheld then it is very important that you appeal, even if you don’t think that you will be successful. This shows that you are serious about taking the issues further, which could assist with a settlement.

    In addition, if you fail to appeal but are later successful in an employment tribunal claim, the tribunal could reduce any compensation awarded to you by up to 25%.

    See our guide on Appeals by employees for more.


    Remember all these tips and you will have a successful grievance meeting with your employer!


    Next steps

    If you think you’ve been unfairly treated at work and are planning to raise a grievance, Monaco Solicitors can probably assist. 

    We are experienced employment law specialists representing employees only  (not employers). We can help you with all aspects of grievances, from drafting your grievance letter through to preparing for your grievance meeting, and on to the next stage.

    If you would like a no-obligation consultation about your grievance, contact us today via: