Grievance Policy & Procedure – a simple guide

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A simple guide to grievance policy and procedure

A grievance is a formal complaint made to your employer.

A grievance is a complaint or concern that an employee raises with/of their employer.

Does my employer have to have a formal Grievance Policy?

Yes, employers should have a grievance policy setting out how employees can raise complaints about action taken in relation to their employment.

Where will I find my employers Grievance Policy?

The grievance policy will usually be in the staff handbook, on the intranet, or available from HR or a senior manager.

What are examples of a Grievance?

A grievance can be any complaint about any action taken by your employer that relates to your employment.  This can be anything from imposing a transfer to another team or making any changes without prior consultation; failing to respond to communications; unreasonably increasing your workload during pregnancy, because you’re pregnant; harassment/sexual harassment/bullying.  It’s important not to be prescriptive about the list of examples here, because you could raise a grievance about anything.

Can I be sacked for raising a Grievance?

You can’t stop an employer dismissing someone if they want to – the question is whether the dismissal is fair or unfair, if it’s discriminatory, or retaliatory, and so on. It would be unfair to dismiss someone because they raised a grievance.

It might be that the grievance brings you within the whistleblowing regime, which provides additional protections against being dismissed for making “protected disclosures”. You should get advice before raising a grievance, especially if you intend to report alleged wrongdoing by the employer.

Can I raise a Grievance for being Disciplined?

It depends.  If you aren’t happy with a disciplinary decision, your usual route is to appeal against the decision.  However, if you want to complain that the disciplinary process itself was discriminatory or was brought in response to your raising whistleblowing concerns, then a separate grievance is more likely to be appropriate.

In a complex situation like this, balancing the various steps available to put you in the best position to achieve your desired aims is something we regularly do, so we’d suggest you get advice before starting a grievance.

What is the outcome of a Grievance?

A grievance will usually be rejected or upheld.  If it’s upheld, depending on what you were seeking, you can expect your employer to make appropriate changes as a result, in order to bring effect to the grievance decision.  If it’s rejected, then you should be able to appeal against the grievance decision.

You can be accompanied at a grievance hearing.

How do I raise a Grievance?

Check your employer’s grievance decision, but you would usually be expected to submit a written grievance setting out the complaints and usually the solution that you’re looking for.

Many grievances are complex, and often the employee is looking for a particular solution, such as an exit deal, which should not be mentioned in the grievance itself – we’d explain why this is if it applies in your case.  As such, we’d recommend that you get advice and help in preparing your grievance, so we can be sure to include all relevant grounds, and can line things up to take you through a plan aimed at achieving the result you want.

How long does a Grievance take?

A straightforward grievance could take a few weeks, but it will depend on the issues being raised, how long it takes to investigate, availability of witnesses (summer holidays can cause delays, for instance), and the size and resources of the employer.

Will there be a Grievance Hearing?

There should be a grievance hearing.  There are circumstances where the employee prefers everything to be done in writing, for instance where they are suffering from anxiety and the stress of a hearing would be too damaging, but it’s best to attend a hearing wherever possible, so as to ensure you’ve participated fully in your grievance.

Can I have someone with me at a Grievance Hearing?

You are entitled to take a work colleague or trade union representative to any meeting which could result in a decision affecting your employment, so usually, yes you should be given the chance to take a companion to a grievance hearing.  You can ask for someone other than a colleague or trade union rep, especially if you have a good reason to do so – and if you’re disabled, this could be a reasonable adjustment for you – but the employer might refuse.

What are the outcomes of a Grievance?

A grievance would usually be rejected or upheld.  If it’s upheld you’d expect your employer to make changes as a result of their decision on your grievance.  If your grievance is rejected, you’d be able to appeal against that decision.

Can I appeal a Grievance decision?

Yes, you should always be permitted to appeal against anything you are unhappy about in a grievance decision.  It’s important to follow through and appeal before bringing an Employment Tribunal claim, if you think there’s any chance you may want to claim, or even if you just want to appear willing to claim.

Need more help?

If you need more help with the subjects covered here then do reach out to our expert online employment law solicitors.  You can email us at employment@qlaw.co.uk or call 03300 020 863.

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