Grievances are concerns, problems or complaints that an employee has about some aspect of their work: this may be about a work colleague or manager, a decision, the application of a policy or another working relationship.
In the first instance, employees may wish to try to resolve grievances informally with Line Managers. This can be advantageous, particularly where there might be a close working relationship between a manager and an employee. It also allows for problems to be resolved quickly.
However, should matters not be able to be satisfactorily resolved, it may be necessary for that employee to initiate the formal grievance procedure.
All formal grievances should be dealt with in line with the Labour Relations Agency Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures. Industrial Tribunals will take into account of the Code when considering relevant cases and can decide to financially penalise any employer or employee for an unreasonable failure to adhere to the Code. Industrial Tribunal awards can be increased or decreased by up to 50% in these instances. The Code of Practice can be found here:
Dealing with grievances
- The employee should raise the grievance in writing with management setting out the nature of the grievance and how they consider it might be resolved.
Employers should then act without reasonable delay and invite the employee to a meeting to discuss the grievance. Employees have a statutory right to be accompanied to this meeting.
- Employees and their representatives should take all reasonable steps to attend the grievance meeting, where they should be given an opportunity to fully present their case. Consideration should be given to adjourning the meeting, if necessary, to allow for further investigation.
- Following the meeting, the employer should decide on what action, if any, to take. The decision, and a full explanation of how the decision was reached, should be communicated to the employee in writing and without unreasonable delay. The employee should also be informed of their right to appeal the outcome.
- Any appeal should be submitted without unreasonable delay and should set out the grounds of appeal clearly.
- Appeals should be dealt with impartially and whenever possible, by a more senior manager who has not previously been involved in the case. Employees have a statutory right to be accompanied to the appeal hearing.
- The outcome of the appeal should also be communicated without unreasonable delay. It should be made clear to the employee that this is the final stage of the grievance process.
- Where an employee raises a grievance during a disciplinary process, the disciplinary process may be temporarily suspended in order to deal with the grievance. However, depending on the nature of the grievance, there may be situations where the employer may find it more convenient to deal with both issues concurrently and legal advice should be sought as to the most appropriate course of action.
It is essential that employers should have a written grievance policy which is made available to all employees.