Unfortunately, things can occasionally go wrong at work. You might feel you are being bullied, you did not receive the pay rise you were promised, your bonus did not materialise, or your hours were reduced without your consent. In this blog I explain the initial steps you can take to address your concerns about work. Read on for more…
What is a grievance?
A grievance can be defined as a problem, complaint, or concern about an issue at work. Issues I commonly advise upon include bullying and harassment, whistleblowing, discrimination, and concerns about hours and pay. All of these issues, and many more, can be categorised as a problem, complaint, or concern. As such, your employer is already likely to have a specific grievance policy to deal with them.
Initial steps to consider prior to raising a grievance?
Before you raise a grievance, it is a good idea to review your employer’s grievance policy. This is likely to include the process they want you to follow (see more below). Your employer’s grievance policy might be attached to your contact of employment, the employee handbook, or any online portals that contain HR documentation, policies, and procedures. If you cannot find the policy, you can always ask your employer to provide you with a copy.
In addition, you should review the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures. This Code confirms that when dealing with a grievance (and likewise for any disciplinary matter), the following elements are important to ensure the issues are dealt with fairly.
- Employers and employees should raise and deal with issues promptly and should not unreasonably delay meetings, decisions or confirmation of those decisions.
- Employers and employees should act consistently.
- Employers should carry out any necessary investigations, to establish the facts of the case.
- Employers should inform employees of the basis of the problem and give them an opportunity to put their case in response before any decisions are made.
- Employers should allow employees to be accompanied at any formal disciplinary or grievance meeting.
- Employers should allow an employee to appeal against any formal decision made.
If you as the employee unreasonably fails to follow the ACAS Code this can have a negative impact on any claim in the future and so as I say, it is important to check the Code prior to raising a grievance.
How to raise the grievance?
INFORMAL STAGE – Your employer’s grievance policy may ask you to consider an informal approach to resolving your grievance in the first instance. This could include asking you to speak to your immediate Line Manager to see if the situation can be resolved. If this is not possible you are likely to be directed to a more formal process.
FORMAL STAGE – If you have been unable to resolve your grievance informally, then you will move to the formal stage of the process. As I mention above, check your employer’s policy but as a minimum the formal stage is likely to include the following.
- You set out your concerns in writing and send it to the employer.
- You will then be invited to a meeting with your employer to discuss the grievance.
- Your employer will then send you the outcome in writing.
- You will be offered the right of an appeal if you are unhappy with the initial response.
What to include in your grievance?
Assuming you have been unable to resolve matters through informal discussion, most employers will direct you to raise your grievance in writing. This can feel very daunting because it is you recording your unhappiness at work and can leave you feeling vulnerable to possible repercussions.
The above said, it is important you provide the necessary information to allow your employer to properly look into your concerns. I would advise including a brief introduction letting your employer know you want your complaint handled under the grievance policy, followed by a detailed account of your concerns which if possible, should be in date order and provide references to, or copies of any supporting evidence.
All the solicitors at Lincs Law have experience of drafting grievances on behalf of our clients. If you feel you would benefit from our expertise, all our contact details can be found at https://lincslaw.co.uk/about/our-team/
After submitting your written grievance, you are likely to be invited to a meeting to discuss your concerns in more detail before your employer provides you with an outcome. If the complaint is complex, an investigation may be required, and this could take a little time.
If your grievance is resolved in your favour that should be a close to the situation. However, if you remain unhappy you should be permitted to appeal. Any grounds of appeal are likely to be informed by the initial outcome and you should explain in full why you are unhappy with that.
Employment Tribunal claims?
If you are dissatisfied following conclusion of the full grievance procedure you may want to consider a claim in the Employment Tribunal. This will of course depend entirely on the nature of your complaint, and the strength of your position. Possible claims that can arise include unlawful deduction from wages, breach of contract, discrimination, and detriments.
How Can We Help
If you are struggling at work and need help, call for a free, no obligation, consultation on 01522 440512. Alternatively, for more information about the services we provide to employees, please visit our website at https://lincslaw.co.uk/services/employees/
Director, Specialist Employment Law Solicitor
Lincs Law Employment Solicitors, Lincoln