What is a grievance? | Everything you need to know | Hampshire Skip to content

Adam Wheal | 15th February 2023

What is a grievance and should I raise one?


Adam Wheal | 15th February 2023

What is a grievance and should I raise one?

Difficulties can often arise in the workplace between staff, for example with personality clashes, disagreements, or certain comments made. Whilst you should attempt to raise issues informally where appropriate, as we will outline in this article, raising a formal grievance can be a useful tool to help resolve issues if you feel aggrieved at work at something your employer, or a colleague, has done.

Grievance explained

A grievance is a formal document submitted by you which outlines concerns or issues that you have experienced at work, perhaps in relation to a colleague or the way that you have been treated by your employer. Although this is a document which the employer should treat through their formal grievance procedure, it does not have to state on the document that it is a grievance (although we would recommend it does for clarity).

Once submitted, the grievance initiates the formal procedure that your employer should follow to deal with complaints. All employers must have a written grievance procedure which outlines the steps that will be taken.

If you are considering submitting a grievance, it would be worth requesting a copy of the grievance procedure if you do not have this to hand so that you are aware of the process your employer will follow. We can also refer to your employer’s grievance procedure when reviewing whether there have been any errors in their approach in handling your grievance.

It is important to note that generally we would encourage employees to attempt to discuss and settle issues informally with their manager before submitting a grievance. Once a grievance has been submitted, this can unfortunately alter the working relationship and dynamic as it escalates the matter to a formal level and therefore it is important to try and exhaust other measures first, if appropriate.

What is the general process once I submit a grievance?

Once you have submitted a grievance, this initiates your employer’s formal process.

ACAS, which is an employment law conciliation service, has produced guidance on the general approach that employers should take in relation to disciplinary and grievance meetings. Ideally, your employer’s policy will coincide with the ACAS Code of Conduct.

Firstly, your employer should arrange a formal meeting with you. Generally, this should be held without unnecessary or unreasonable delay. If possible, we would recommend that you make every effort to attend this meeting so that you can discuss your concerns with your employer. If you feel it will assist you, you also have the right to take a companion with you – the legal entitlement is for a workplace colleague or trade union representative.

Your employer should carry out comprehensive investigation into the concern and speak to any relevant individuals. Once they have done so, your employer should decide on what action to take, if any. It may be that your concern is upheld, partially upheld, or that your employer refuses to uphold it.

You have the right to appeal any outcome relating to your concern and therefore, depending on the approach taken by your employer, this could be a step you wish to take. An appeal should be dealt with impartially and ideally by someone who has not been involved in the original matter.

Our Employment team offer a fixed fee meeting at which you would be able to discuss the option of raising a concern, or perhaps you are currently in the grievance process and would like further advice.

If you would like to book a meeting please contact either Adam Wheal or Sarah Hayes.

Stay up to date with our latest industry news

By completing your details and submitting, you are consenting to us sending you relevant legal updates and invitations based on the areas of interest you select. For further details please read our privacy notice.