When does a grievance meeting take place?
After you have sent your grievance letter – see our article on how to write one and the examples given there – your employer should write back inviting you to a meeting to discuss the letter. This is what’s usually referred to as a ‘grievance meeting’. Your employer should mention that you can take a colleague or a union representative to this meeting and we recommend that you take up that opportunity.
You are supposed to get this written invitation a ‘reasonable’ length of time after your letter has been submitted. 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 on grievance procedures.
At the grievance meeting
The meeting will probably be attended by a manager and an HR person who will take notes. It 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 complaints are. You might also have some questions for them about their treatment of you.
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. 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 any given meeting.
This advice applies to any type of meeting. Note-taking is a serious skill which 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 writing down the subject of each part of the discussion. You can just write ‘1’ for example.
Top TipsGarvey Hanchard
Take a companion to the meeting to ensure you record the exchange accurately
Don’t discuss settlement during the meeting – there is another time and place for this
Keep calm, remain polite and answer all questions honestly
What happens after the 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.
Some grievance meeting dos and don’ts
To round off this article, we offer below a summary of grievance meeting ‘dos and don’ts:
Remember all these tips and you will have a successful grievance meeting with your employer!