Grievance procedures

words: June Fraser
Grievance procedures

What is a grievance?

A grievance is any dissatisfaction that an employee may have with another member of staff, a member of management or a management decision. If the employee complains that he or she has been bullied or harassed the matter should be taken very seriously. There should normally be a definition of bullying and harassment in the staff handbook.

Raising a grievance informally

It is often possible to resolve a grievance informally. If an employee raises a concern or complaint in person, listen to them. If their suggestion is unreasonable explain this and suggest they put their grievance in writing, to follow the formal Grievance Procedure. This will ensure any appropriate investigations can take place and give them the right of appeal if they are dissatisfied.

Raising a grievance formally

The ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance procedures suggests that where a grievance is raised during a disciplinary process, the disciplinary process should be adjourned until the end of the grievance procedure. Formal written grievances should set out the nature of the grievance and provide dates and details if possible. Following receipt of the grievance invite the employee to a Grievance Hearing. It is best that grievances are dealt with quickly so have the meeting soon.

What happens at a hearing?

The meeting should start with an explanation of who is present and the procedure to be followed.

The procedure is as follows: it should be explained that the meeting has been convened to enable the staff member dealing with the grievance to gain a full understanding of the issue and to ask for information to clarify matters. However, the matter should not normally be resolved at the first meeting. Explain that you will consider the points that have been raised, investigate if necessary and then respond in writing. Any investigation may involve interviewing witnesses or looking at documents. The person raising the grievance should not normally see these statements, but will be asked to another meeting to do this.

Following this introduction, the employee should be asked to state their grievance for the minutes. At the end of the meeting ask the employee how they wish their grievance to be resolved.

Right to be accompanied

Check with the employee before the meeting if they are bringing a companion and, if so, who that person is. There may be times when you decide that the companion is not an appropriate choice due to a conflict of interest or for operational reasons.

Although the law gives the right to be accompanied by a work colleague or a trade union officer, there may be times when an employee wants a member of their family to be their companion. If the employee is young or vulnerable you may choose to agree to this.

Re-arranging meeting times

If the employee or their companion cannot make the meeting then it can be re-arranged to a time that is convenient. If the problem is with the companion then it is lawful to insist that the meeting takes place within five working days of the date of the meeting and, if the companion can’t accommodate, the employee should find another companion.

Outcome of Grievance

Once you have all the information you need then you can decide if the grievance should be upheld, partially upheld or not upheld. One possible result of the grievance is that the disciplinary procedure will be started against one or more employees. The employee who has raised the grievance has no right to this information in detail because you have a duty of confidentiality.


If the employee is dissatisfied with the outcome then they should write to the person nominated in the letter stating their reasons. Someone who has not been involved to that date (a more senior member of staff ) should meet the employee and hear their reasons. The decision after the appeal hearing is final.

A copy of all relevant notes, statements, minutes and documents should be kept in the employee’s staff file and should only be disclosed in accordance with the Data Protection Act.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,