Grievances (or concerns or complaints) can be about all sorts of issues. These could include:
- changes in the workplace
- bullying and harassment
- working relationships
- terms and conditions of employment
By law there should be a grievance policy which sets out the procedure you should follow in such situations. This can be found in either your contract of employment or a staff handbook.
The policy should follow the guidelines in the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures. This sets out standards of fairness and reasonable behaviour that you and your employer are expected to follow. If you do not follow the Code, an Employment Tribunal may reduce any compensation it awards you. If your employer does not follow the Code, the tribunal may increase the compensation.
A Guide to Grievance Procedures
Most grievances can be resolved quickly and informally through discussion with a line manager. If you feel unable to speak to your manager, for example because the complaint concerns him or her, then you should try and speak informally to a more senior manager. If this does not solve the problem, you should follow the formal procedure.
You should start the formal process by putting your grievance in writing and submitting it to the appropriate manager. Your letter should contain a brief description of the reasons for the complaint, including any relevant facts, dates, and names of individuals involved.
Your employer should then invite you to a grievance meeting within a reasonable time and at a reasonable location to discuss your grievance. The purpose of the meeting is to enable you to explain your grievance and to discuss it with the Company. The hearing may be adjourned if your employer needs to carry out any further investigations. For example, it may decide to interview witnesses in the light of points you have raised at the hearing.
Right to be accompanied
You have the right to be accompanied by either a work colleague or a trade union official of your choice. You must tell your employer prior to the meeting that you intend to bring a companion. Your colleague has the right to paid time off during working hours to accompany you.
After the hearing your employer should write to you confirming their decision. This could be:
- to reject your grievance
- to uphold your grievance
- to partly uphold your grievance
The letter should inform you that you have the right to appeal the decision and the time limit for doing so.
If you wish to appeal you should write to your employer explaining why you are appealing and your reason for doing so. Your employer should write to you inviting you to attend an appeal hearing and should inform you of the date, time and place of the meeting. Where practicable the appeal hearing should be conducted by a manager who is senior to the person who conducted the first grievance hearing. Once again, you are entitled to be accompanied to the appeal meeting.
After the appeal hearing, your employer should write to you with their final decision. They may decide to uphold the original decision, revoke the original decision or substitute a different decision.
For free initial advice from the Hethertons’ Employment Law Team, please give us a call on 01904 528200.