What is a grievance?
A grievance is a complaint, concern or any employment problem that you need to raise with your employer. For example, you may be overworked, given unrealistic targets, placed on a performance process that you do not agree with, or be in dispute over your salary, bonus or commission payments.
What is the procedure for raising a grievance?
There is no legally binding process that you or your employer must follow when raising or handling a grievance at work, however most companies will have a written policy stating how it is intended the grievance process will work. This can usually be found in either your employment contract, staff handbook or the company intranet.
In many circumstances, the issues leading up to the grievance is capable of being addressed and resolved informally. Indeed, many employers’ internal policies will specify that any issues should first be explored in an informal way.
If the issues cannot be resolved informally, then you should lodge a formal written grievance, which usually is sent to your line manager or HR (or both). If it is your line manager who is the subject of the grievance, then it should be lodged just to HR or you should seek guidance as to who is best to lodge it with.
Once the written grievance has been lodged, your employer is usually expected to comply with the ACAS Code of Practice in relation to grievances. This provides as follows:-
1) Your employer should convene a meeting without unreasonable delay in order to deal with the grievance.
2) If allegations have been made against another employee, the employer should inform the relevant employee and an investigation should be conducted to establish the facts of the case.
3) Each party should be given an opportunity to answer to the allegations made against them (if any) and should be given the opportunity of adducing relevant evidence.
4) Employers are required to comply with a reasonable request for the employee to be accompanied to a formal grievance. A fellow employee or a trade union representative can accompany an employee.
What if the decision is not favourable to you?
The ACAS code provides that you should be able to appeal the grievance decision. The new grievance will usually be heard by someone not involved in the original grievance, unless this is not possible because of the size of your employer.
Depending on the nature of your grievance, if it goes against you and you are still not happy, other options may be available to you including resigning and making a claim for constructive dismissal at the Employment Tribunal. For most claims, the time limit is 3 months less one day from either the last day of your employment (or from the last act of any discrimination against you).