Grievance Letter Templates & How to Write One

How to write a grievance letter is a real science: it must be written carefully, in neutral language, setting out your complaints as clearly and concisely as possible. Read this article to find out more or skip to our 20 grievance letter templates by clicking this link:

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Your letter should be as concise as you are able to make it. Do not submit a 30-page letter setting out everything that’s happened to you in the last two years, instead, focus on the issues that you are raising which support your main legal arguments.

Top 3 Tips

  1. Remember to specify who, when, how and what
  2. Do not mention compensation
  3. Do not mention tribunals

Locate your employer’s grievance procedure

The first thing you need to do is find your employer’s grievance procedure. It should be readily available on the internal intranet or sometimes even in paper copy. The procedure will tell you to whom your letter should be addressed, which is an important piece of information to have.

Include the words Formal Grievance in the letter heading

Once you know to whom the letter is to be written, you should head it like any other formal letter you would send, except you should include the words “Formal Grievance” as the heading.

Introductory paragraph(s)

In your introduction, you should be conciliatory. Explain that you regret having to raise a formal grievance, but you felt like you had no other option. Set out the attempts you have made to resolve the issues and explain that this letter is a last resort. This will put you in a good light with your employer.

Employers don’t like it when employees raise grievances for no reason as it causes disruption and takes up management time.  However, if you explain how you have been left no option, then your employer’s frustration will often be directed at management or HR, rather than at you. This is important as you are seeking to persuade your employer that you have been treated badly, which is a crucial step in attempting to negotiate a settlement.

Summarise the issues you are raising

You should next set out the events that relate to your grievance. Try and do this using as few words as possible, but also enough words to convey the facts of the situation. Use numbers for each incident, as this forces  your employer to investigate and then respond using your numbering, rather than just omitting to answer certain points (which will happen if you don’t number your points).

Try to keep a professional tone and do not make inflammatory allegations unsupported by the facts, in extreme cases that can even leave you vulnerable to disciplinary action. Try and refer to evidence if possible and also give your employer the information they need to investigate incidents: this could be times, dates, details of emails etc.

Set out exactly the behaviour of your employer that you wish to complain about, in chronological order, giving as many facts as possible. In employment law, the key facts would be:

  • Who – Who was present?
  • When – State the time and date
  • How – Was this in a meeting, an email or a phone call?
  • What – What was said or done? Describe the event.

Only suggest a resolution if you want to remain in employment

To conclude, If your intention is to remain in employment you should then suggest a resolution. If your intention by raising a grievance is to commence without prejudice negotiations simultaneously, then do not suggest a resolution as you will do that in your without prejudice correspondence. Instead, explain to your employer that you feel badly treated and let down and will have to consider your options.

The importance of a good grievance letter

How to write a grievance letter to your employer is an important skill. It is not only important  for getting things off your chest, but also for giving you the maximum chance of entering into a settlement agreement and receiving sufficient payment to tide you over until you find a new job. Writing a good grievance letter can also form the basis for drafting your ET1 form  (that’s your employment tribunal claim form) an employer will see this and it should give you more negotiating power in settlement discussions.

Attending a grievance meeting

After you have sent your grievance letter, you will be invited to a meeting and given the chance to bring a colleague or a union representative. 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 or letter 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 could take notes if they are 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. 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.

Grievance outcome letter

Shortly after your meeting your employer will send you an outcome letter (99% of the time a grievance is dismissed). This letter should outline your right to appeal. It should set out why your grievance was not upheld. This commits your employer to state in writing their reasons for dismissing your grievance, this is an advantage as later on they are unable to change their story.

A clever employer will sometimes uphold part of your grievance, but you will find that overall the more serious allegations are not upheld. This will enable your employer to claim that they acted fairly overall and gave it due consideration. If you believe that your employer has failed to uphold the serious parts of your grievance despite there being evidence to do so, then you must appeal.

Grievance appeal letter

You can normally appeal to higher management or 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.

Focus on why you believe the decision to reject your grievance, or part thereof, was incorrect and focus on the evidence supporting your points. Your appeal should refer to the outcome letter and focus on the decision, rather than attempting to have the case heard again. However, if your employer has failed to respond to any part of your grievance in the outcome letter, then you should raise this in your appeal letter.

Grievance appeal meeting

A meeting will then be held to discuss the points of your appeal and identify if any further investigation is warranted.

Grievance appeal outcome

Your employer will write to you giving you a final outcome to your appeal. This is the final decision and there is no right of appeal further. If you believe that the decision is unfair or unjustified then you can either commence without prejudice discussions, or you can look into making a claim at an employment tribunal if you have grounds for a claim.

Top 3 Tips

  • Always put your grievance in writing
  • Take detailed notes at the meeting
  • Be prepared to appeal – 99% of grievances are dismissed by the employer

 

Grievance letter templates:

Below are 10 grievance letter templates which we have adapted from old cases and presented here for you to download for free:

 

Grievance Letter: bullying and harassment

Client had suffered work-related stress and various other health issues after suffering long-term workplace bullying. In the grievance letter we outline spoken conversations and meetings in order to support the grievance claim, as well as the nature and timeline of the bullying. Finally, we reference the company’s anti-bullying policy along with the Employment Act 2010 to give context to the issue and highlight that it must be investigated.

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Grievance Appeal Letter: changes to employment terms and conditions

Changes had been made to the client’s job role without first consulting with him. A grievance hearing occurred, but it was not upheld. Client brought a claim to appeal the decision maker’s decision that the contract allowed for variations to job roles, as he lacked the objectivity needed to make a just decision with regards to their involvement in the redeployment and management of the client’s team.

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Grievance Appeal Letter: maternity leave, mishandled return, indirect sex discrimination

When client returned to work from her maternity leave, there was no appropriate handover of responsibilities by her cover and had to work full time, detrimentally impacting her family life. After applying for a grievance on the grounds of indirect sex discrimination, she presented evidence of the failure of management to put adequate procedures in place and communicate with her.

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Grievance appeal letter: Discrimination, bullying and constructive dismissal

Grievance was raised against a client’s employer on the ground of discrimination, bullying and harassment, even when on sick leave. She was not happy about the response to her grievance.

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Grievance Letter: suspended, back injury and equal pay

Here the client has originally taken time off work with a bad back, actually caused by working too many hours. Rather than help him, they move him to an inferior role with less responsibility. He then finds out that he is being paid less than some female counterparts. When he flags this up, he is suspended for breaching confidentiality! This template grievance also comes with a without prejudice letter setting out how much money the employee is asking for and why.

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Grievance Letter: bullied and discriminated against for depression

The client was suffering from depression, and rather than try to help, his employer decided to try to make working life hell for him. This grievance also includes a ‘without prejudice’ section letter setting out amounts of money for settlement negotiations.

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Grievance Letter: sales person with commission cut

In this example, an English sales manager within an American software sales company has had his commission structure completely changed without any discussion. Technically, possible claims here include breach of contract, constructive dismissal & nationality discrimination. With the help of this grievance he managed to negotiate a very favourable exit package, and he even had a job lined up to go to.

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Grievance Letter: redundancy appeal for pre-determined consultation

A grievance appeal concerning a redundancy situation whereby our client was singled out unfairly. The process was predetermined, the consultation was inadequate and a colleague was unofficially given the nod to take over the job when our client was going to be ‘made redundant’.

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Grievance Letter: executive demoted & benefits changed

This example carries on from the template above whereby the Director was forced to resign. The employer responded with a grievance outcome letter, and this was the grievance appeal letter submitted by the employee. Again it was a very successful outcome.

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Grievance Letter: off sick with depression and not given a pay rise

This example concerns an employee from a large telecoms company who was on long term sick with depression. Whilst off sick she found that she was passed over for a pay rise. This grievance letter resulted in a decent payout for her.

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Grievance Letter: made redundant after making complaint

In this example, the employer was a bank and the employee was made redundant very quickly after reporting her line manager for entertaining clients in strip clubs. It looked too much like a coincidence, and when we started asking searching questions in this grievance letter about the redundancy procedure, the bank eventually gave a good settlement agreement, having originally been talking very tough through its in-house lawyer. Possible claims here include unfair dismissal and sex discrimination.

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Grievance Letter: constructive dismissal after TUPE transfer

This grievance letter example features an employee with 12 years of loyal service who’s employer merged with another company in a Tupe transfer. He was then sent rude emails, bullied, threatened with a PIP (performance improvement plan) and effectively demoted by having his responsibilities changed. The aim was to force him to resign by ‘managing him out’. Here were wrote an open letter for him to be treated as a grievance and pointing out that this treatment amounted to constructive dismissal.

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Grievance Letter: redundancy whilst on maternity leave

This grievance letter example is from a case whereby our client was managing a UK branch of an international company, and then when she went off on maternity leave she was made redundant. This was tantamount to unfair dismissal, and we wrote to the employer pointing out the faults in their redundancy process.

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Grievance Letter: flexible working discrimination

In this grievance letter our client was a high powered banker who put in a request for flexible working to look after her daughter. After starting to work from home, her line manager began ostracising her to the point whereby she had no choice but to negotiate a settlement agreement to leave with her head held high.

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Grievance Letter: Appeal After Fraud Whistleblowing

A grievance appeal concerning victimisation due to whistleblowing. Two employees discovered overcharging whereby customers were being ripped off.

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Grievance Letter: Appeal in Response to the Grievance Outcome Letter

An example of an appeal used to answer the employer's response to the original grievance in a case where the employee was forced to resign.

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Redundancy Appeal 1st Response: Short Notice Period

This letter is a response from the employer in our case whereby the client was being made redundant after he blew the whistle on malpractice. The employer was also trying to offer him only 3 months’ notice pay, when in fact it was supposed to be 3 years! This is one of a series of 4 letters in this case (2 from each side), j), l) and m) are the rest of this case.

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Redundancy Appeal 2nd Letter: Notice Period & Whistleblowing

This letter is from our a case whereby our client was being made redundant after he blew the whistle on malpractice. The employer was also trying to offer him only 3 months’ notice pay, when in fact it was supposed to be 3 years! This is one of a series of 4 letters in this case (2 from each side), j), k) and m) are the rest of this case.

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Redundancy Appeal 1st Letter: Notice Period & Whistleblowing

This letter is from our a case whereby our client was being made redundant after he blew the whistle on malpractice. The employer was also trying to offer him only 3 months’ notice pay, when in fact it was supposed to be 3 years! This is first in a series of letters in this case, k), l) and m) are the rest of this case.

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Redundancy Appeal 2nd Response: Final Outcome

This letter is the employer’s reply to our letter appealing against redundancy from our case whereby the client was being made redundant after he blew the whistle on malpractice. The employer was also trying to offer him only 3 months’ notice pay, when in fact it was supposed to be 3 years! This is one of a series of 4 letters in this case (2 from each side), j), k) and l) are the rest of this case.

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