This guide covers the grievance process - from informal methods of resolution to a grievance hearing.
If you have a problem or complaint about work, it may be difficult to know what steps to take.
For some types of problem - such as changes to working practices or relationship problems with your manager - you'll have a greater chance of resolving it by dealing with it quickly and informally.
Sometimes the gravity of the situation will mean that a formal grievance is the right approach – and we talk more about the process below - but you should always try and resolve the issue informally first.
Try to resolve your problem by speaking to the person concerned. If you can’t speak to the person directly, then speak to your manager in confidence or call us for advice on 0345 772 6100.Back to contents
(Please note: the below relates to England, Wales and Scotland only. If you work in Northern Ireland, please see the nidirect advice on this topic)
The grievance procedure enables you to raise concerns with management about workplace problems involving your working conditions or relationships with colleagues.
Your employer should have a grievance policy/procedure, so read this to familiarise yourself with the process. To ensure a fair process is followed, it should have at least three key stages:
In addition to your employer's policy, the ACAS Code of Practice sets out standards of fairness and reasonable behaviour that employers and employees are expected to follow in most situations when dealing with a dispute in the workplace.
But, remember: it is always advisable to try to resolve disputes informally before lodging a formal grievance.
Step one: try to resolve matters informally
Your employer’s policy should outline the informal methods of dispute resolution available to you. One informal method of resolving a problem is mediation, where an impartial third party helps those in dispute to try to reach an agreement. Mediation has the advantage of enabling both parties to express how they feel about the issue and explore mutually agreed terms to make up the agreement.
Step two: taking your complaint further
If the issue cannot be resolved informally, consider the following:
Contact us as soon as possible on 0345 772 6100 so that we can help you.
Step three: inform your employer
You will need to follow your local policy/procedures and inform your employer of the nature of your grievance, in writing. You should include:
Step four: the hearing
Once your grievance has been lodged, your employer should carry out investigations to establish the facts of the case and arrange a formal meeting as soon as possible. This is known as a grievance hearing.
Step five: action
Following the investigation and hearing your employer should communicate their decision to you - in writing - as soon as possible.
Step six: appeal
If you decide to appeal the decision, please check your local policy. This should clarify the appeal process and the time limits within which you need to appeal. You would usually be expected to outline the reasons for appeal, in writing, and submit this to your employer within a specified time frame.
If you are considering Early Conciliation please contact us on 0345 772 6100 before taking any further action.
An Employment Tribunal claim may be an avenue available to you if you’re unhappy with a decision taken by your employer and it is a decision that an Employment Tribunal has jurisdiction to deal with.
Before pursuing an Employment Tribunal claim, you are legally required to take part in Early Conciliation which is a service provided by ACAS. If you submit an Employment Tribunal claim without having undertaken Early Conciliation your claim will be rejected.
Early conciliation can help resolve various workplace disputes including:-
If our Legal Services department believes that your potential Employment Tribunal claim has more than reasonable prospects of success, they will represent you during the Early Conciliation process. However, if we believe that your potential claim does not have more than reasonable prospects of success, we will not be able to provide you with legal representation and you will have to undertake Early Conciliation personally or instruct alternative solicitors at your own cost.
If you trigger the Early Conciliation process prior to seeking our advice, we will review the merits of your potential complaint and confirm whether it meets our criteria for support. You must not name the RCN as your representative for Early Conciliation without our knowledge and consent.
Early Conciliation has an impact on the calculation of the deadline for presenting an Employment Tribunal claim and it is your responsibility to be certain of the deadline for presenting your potential claim.Back to contents
'Collective' grievances occur when a number of staff are affected by the same problem.
If two or more employees raise the same grievance then the provisions of the ACAS code do not apply. Your local policy should determine the process for the collective dispute. If you are considering a collective dispute alongside your colleagues please contact us for further advice on 0345 772 6100.Back to contents
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You should not be victimised for lodging a grievance. If your grievance does not resolve your concerns, you may need to decide whether to take further action. Please call us to discuss your concerns on 0345 772 6100.Back to contents
If a grievance has been lodged against you as a manager, you should firstly seek advice and support from your HR department, after reading our advice about investigations.
When your employer discusses the allegations with you, be ready and able to justify any managerial decisions or actions you took in line with your employer's policies.
At this initial stage you are not being disciplined. However, if disciplinary action is taken against you at a later stage, the RCN will represent you in most cases.Back to contents
ACAS resources on raising a grievance at workThe Labour Relations Agency (LRA) Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance procedures sets out principles that should be followed in Northern Ireland.
Page last updated - 20/02/2019