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Workingwise.co.uk has advice on how to take out a grievance against your employer.
Here are four key actions to deal with a workplace grievance with your employer.
If you think your employer has acted illegally or unfairly, has failed to protect you, for instance, against bullying and harassment or has acted in a way that is in breach of your contract, you may consider taking out a grievance.
If you are considering taking legal action against your employer it is also a good idea to first go down the grievance route as it shows you have tried to resolve the issue internally.
Acas advises employees considering taking out a written grievance to initially try to resolve the problem informally.
“Ideally, matters should be addressed before they even get to the stage of becoming disciplinary or grievance issues,” says Acas.
Despite best efforts, however, it may not always be possible to resolve a grievance informally and where an employee hits a brick wall and wants to continue with their complaint they are advised by Acas’ code of practice [which is not legally binding] to raise the matter formally.
This means setting out the nature of their grievance in writing.
The code suggests that employees should ‘stick to the facts and avoid language which may be considered insulting or abusive’.
Employees should also read their organisation’s grievance procedure which should set out who to approach should the grievance be a complaint against the line manager.
It is at this stage that an employee will be notified, without unreasonable delay, of the date and location of a grievance meeting.
Employees should remember that a grievance meeting is not the same as a disciplinary hearing. The code suggests that it is instead an “occasion when discussion and dialogue may lead to an amicable solution.”
At the meeting, employees will be allowed to explain their grievance and suggest ways that they believe it can be resolved.
If matters come to light during the meeting which require investigation, consideration should be given to the meeting being delayed.
For many employees a grievance hearing is a nerve-wracking experience and having a friendly face to accompany you can be very supportive.
There is a statutory right for the employee to be accompanied at such a meeting, but it should be a colleague, a trade union representative or an official employed by a trade union.
The companion can do more than just listen and be supportive. They should be allowed to address the hearing to put and sum up the worker’s case, respond on behalf of the worker to any views expressed at the meeting and confer with the worker during the hearing.
The code says, however, that:
The companion does not have the right to answer questions on the worker’s behalf, address the hearing if the worker does not wish it or prevent the employer from explaining their case.
They can also take contemporaneous notes.
Mediation can be used at any point in the process and Acas say it may be particularly useful in certain circumstances where, for example, there is a conflict involving colleagues of a similar job or grade, or between a line manager and their staff.
Mediation is a voluntary process where an independent and impartial third party helps two or more people in a dispute to try to reach an agreement.
In some organisations, mediation is written into formal discipline and grievance procedures as an optional stage.
Where this is not the case, it is useful to be clear about whether the discipline and grievance procedure can be suspended if mediation is deemed to be an appropriate method of resolving the dispute.
The outcome of the meeting together with any agreed action should be presented in writing. The employee may appeal and should be informed of this right.
Employees may also be accompanied at an appeal hearing. Following any appeal the outcome once again should be communicated in writing.