Grievance appeal letter: Maternity leave, mishandled return, indirect sex discrimination

Following maternity leave, our client’s return to work was badly mishandled. She submitted a grievance and at the grievance hearing provided evidence showing a failure by management to communicate properly and failure to put adequate arrangements in place.

The grievance was investigated in a shallow manner. There was insufficient interrogation of the factual circumstances and the grievance outcome reached perverse conclusions. The client was only presented with options which would have resulted in substantial financial disadvantage to her. As such, she lodged an appeal against the grievance outcome.

If you’ve been invited to a grievance meeting, read our article on how to prepare beforehand, and how to behave during this meeting.

See also our other template letters on issues relating to pregnancy and maternity at work, our article on the topic, and our 10 tips for returning to work from maternity leave.

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[Employee address]

[HR Manager]

[Company address]

13th January [Date this year]

Dear [HR Manager]

Further to your letter of 10th January [Date this year] regarding the outcome of my grievance “the Grievance Outcome”, I am writing to provide you with notice of my forthcoming appeal against your decision. I am naturally disappointed with the grievance outcome and consider that in the circumstances I must appeal, although I am nonetheless grateful for your time in considering this matter.

I would be grateful if you could appoint an independent individual who has sufficient standing in the Company and can overturn your decision.  If necessary, I would be grateful if you could appoint a decision-maker who is independent of the Company to hear these matters at appeal stage.

I set out my grounds of appeal below.

Return from maternity leave 

It is clear that the Grievance Outcome has failed to consider the account that I gave regarding the arrangements made on my return to work. The Grievance Outcome failed to take account of the relevant information presented and/or failed to make findings of fact that were reasonable based upon the evidence presented.

I set out the relevant facts below which were largely ignored in the Grievance Outcome.

In the latter course of [Date last year and early [Date this year] I discussed my return to work with [Line Manager].  I have reviewed various emails and meetings that took place during this period.

On 20th June [Date last year], I had a meeting with [Line Manager] at [Office] where we discussed my return to work. We discussed the possibility of me working with [Employee 2] as a job share.  It was agreed that I would work over three days a week and I was to confirm which days I could work, which I did in an email dated 3rd August [Date last year].

On 16th September [Date last year], [Line Manager] emailed me and said she was busy and would get back to me by midday the next day ‘with some ideas’. By 20th September [Date last year], I had heard nothing and chased [Line Manager] again with no response. On the same day, I emailed [Line Manager] and told her that I would be coming in on the following Monday (24th September [Date last year]) and she would need to make time for me.

It was in this meeting that I said to [Line Manager] that I would likely be returning to work full time at the end of [Date this year]. I also told her that although I could work on evenings and weekends provided I had childcare in place, I would be unable to work past 5 pm on days that I had to pick my daughter up from childcare. It was agreed that I would be able to use my annual leave to work a reduced working week and on the basis of the days accrued during my maternity leave, I was able to use this annual leave in the first instance.  Thereafter, I would continue to use my annual leave and [Employee 2] would work on the other days.

During the meeting, [Line Manager] had said to me that [Employee 2] had done a job share in previous employment and she was aware of how a job share could be managed effectively. I remember asking whether [Employee 2] would be happy to work just two days a week while I did three and our specific job roles. I was told that I didn’t need to concern myself with what [Employee 2] would be doing.

It is notable that during the course of the grievance hearing, I presented evidence that demonstrated the following:

  1. [Line Manager] had mishandled my return to work;
  2. Failed to communicate with me and left me in a state of limbo with regards to my return to work;
  3. Despite asking for parameters of quasi job-share arrangements to be put in place I was not told what decisions had been made. Whereas, in contrast, Employee 2, my maternity replacement, was kept informed and seemed to know more about my return to work than I did.

It is notable that no finding of fact has been made in this respect. I consider that this highlights the shallow manner in which the grievance was investigated as there has been insufficient interrogation of the factual circumstances and/or the Grievance Outcome reaches perverse conclusions.

Indirect sex discrimination 

In my grievance letter, I noted that my requirement to work full-time hours of 48 hours per week was having a detrimental impact on me as a woman who has primary childcare responsibilities. I believe that there is a policy, criteria, or procedure in place that discriminates against women. This part of my grievance was not fully considered. The only options presented would result in me suffering a substantial financial disadvantage because the Company has a discriminatory policy in place to work excessive hours.


I have been subject to a lengthy period where I have not had the assistance of my line management to enable me to return to my role in a meaningful way.  There has been no handover of my responsibilities from [Employee 2], who has retained ownership of duties that should have been given to me following a handover which could have taken a matter of days.

I feel that I have not been given appropriate options to enable me to work in a way that balances my competing responsibilities as a parent and to the Company. As such, I am left with no other option but to appeal the Grievance Outcome.

I look forward to hearing from you soon regarding the arrangements for my appeal hearing.

Yours sincerely

[Employee name and signature]

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