Raising a formal grievance
The best thing to do if you have a problem with something that has happened at work is to speak to your manager.
However, if your problem is not dealt with to your satisfaction following an informal discussion, the next step you should take is to address it formally by raising a grievance.
Approaching an issue informally is a good first step, as those causing it may not realise that they are creating problems.
Your employer’s responsibilties
Your employer should have a grievance process in place to explain exactly what you need to do if you wish to raise a formal complaint. This might be found in your contract or in policy documents or a staff handbook, and your employer is legally required to make this information available to you.
Generally, your employer should follow the guidelines set out by Acas (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) when dealing with grievances. Acas recommends the following procedure:
- You send a letter to your employer setting out the details of your grievance and any suggestions you have for how they might be resolved. Make sure you put the date on the letter and keep a copy of it.
- Your employer arranges a meeting in which your grievance can be discussed. This should be arranged for a time or place which is reasonable for you to attend.
- You meet with your employer and discuss the grievance and what can be done about it. You have the right to bring a supportive colleague or a trade union representative to the meeting to help you make your case.
- Your employer sends you a letter explaining what they have decided to do about the grievance in light of the meeting.
What to do if you don’t agree with the decision your employer has made
If you do not agree with the decision your employer has made, the next step is to officially contest their solution by responding with another letter. State that you are appealing against the decision and explain why you disagree with it.
It is important to bear in mind that there is a time limit for making an employment tribunal claim, so you should not delay if you are unsatisfied with your employer’s response.
Your employer will then be required to arrange a new meeting, which will ideally be handled by a more senior member of the organisation. Again, you may bring a co-worker or union representative with you to the meeting.
Afterwards, you will receive a letter from your employer setting out their final decision on the matter. If you still do not agree with their proposed method of handling your grievance, then you may be able to seek help from outside the company. This may take the form of mediation, or you could take your case to the employment tribunal.
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