How to Raise a Grievance with Your Employer


Are you feeling unhappy in your job?

This article explains why raising a grievance may be your best option.

Why raise a grievance?

There are a number of benefits of raising a grievance with your employer.

The grievance procedure may resolve the issue

The primary purpose of a grievance procedure is to resolve problems in the workplace. By raising a formal grievance, you can bring issues to your employer’s attention. They may not otherwise have been aware of the issues or perhaps did not realise the full extent of any problem.

Your employer should listen to your concerns and may well make changes in order to resolve them. Often this means that you can continue working for your employer.

Raising a grievance may increase the amount you’re offered in a settlement agreement

Even if you have decided that you don’t want to continue working for your employer, it may still be helpful to raise a formal grievance.

If you’re leaving your job because of unhappy circumstances, you may be offered a settlement agreement, whereby you waive your right to bring any claim against your employer.

A settlement agreement is usually a better option for both parties, compared to an Employment Tribunal claim. However, it’s important that the amount you receive in a settlement agreement reflects the full value of any claims you may have.

By raising a grievance, you focus your employer’s mind on the problems that make you want to leave. This means that they’re more aware of the risk to the business if you were to bring a claim and therefore more likely to offer you a decent settlement.

Your compensation could be reduced by up to 25% if you don’t raise a grievance

If you have any intention of bringing a claim against your employer, raise a grievance first, even if you have no confidence in your employer’s ability to resolve it. That way you can demonstrate to an employment tribunal that you’re reasonable.

Your compensation award could be reduced by up to 25% if you don’t raise a grievance before starting your claim.

How to raise a grievance

Although there are very few formal requirements when raising a grievance, there are certain steps we recommend you take.

Get a copy of your employer’s grievance procedure

Your employer is expected to devise and operate a clear grievance procedure. This should be set out in writing and usually forms part of a staff handbook or employment contract.

If you haven’t done so already, ask for a copy of the grievance procedure. It should set out important factors, such as

  • The person to whom any grievance should be addressed
  • Any form you may need to fill in
  • Timescales for a response

Act promptly

If you wait too long before raising your grievance, you may lose your right to do so. This is because:

  • it may be too late for your employer to properly investigate
  • you may be deemed to have waived your right to resign and claim constructive dismissal
  • many employment claims need to be brought within 3 months of the date of the incident

By acting promptly, you ensure that you’re on the front foot and that you’re not weakening your legal position.

Raise your grievance in writing

It’s much better to raise your complaint in writing. This can include email or you may prefer to put it on paper.

Raising the grievance in writing helps to focus everyone’s attention.

Keep it succinct

Succinct doesn’t necessarily mean short. It just means no longer than necessary.

Avoid repeating yourself. Don’t include irrelevant information. Remember that an employment judge may read it one day and they will want to be able to identify the key issues quickly.

Make every effort to attend the grievance meeting

Attending a grievance meeting can be traumatic. You may prefer to avoid it.¬†However, unless there is a good reason, you should attend and co-operate with your employer’s grievance procedure as best you can. This is an opportunity for you to:

  • state your case and, if necessary, explain further
  • listen to your employer’s perspective
  • discuss a possible resolution

You are entitled to be accompanied to the grievance meeting. Having a companion with you may make the process easier.

If you really don’t feel able to attend the grievance meeting, speak to your doctor

If your experience in the workplace has been particularly traumatic, you may be better off not attending the grievance meeting. Get a note from your doctor to say that attending the meeting will not be good for your health.

You may however ask for the meeting to be conducted by telephone or email if your doctor says that this is appropriate.

Consider appealing if you’re not happy with the outcome

Following the grievance meeting, your employer should decide what action, if any, to take. They should communicate their decision to your promptly in writing.

If you’re not happy with the outcome, you may want to consider appealing. This may mean that your grievance is heard by someone else who may take a different view.

Should you ask for a settlement agreement?

If you’re not confident that your employer will resolve your grievance and you would prefer to you leave your employment, you may want to consider asking for a settlement agreement.

The best way to do that is in the context of a protected conversation. This enables both you and your employer to have a frank conversation about your situation without worrying that your words can be used in evidence against you.

A request for a protected conversation should be kept separate from the grievance procedure. This is because documents relating to the grievance procedure can be used in evidence in an employment tribunal, whilst protected conversations cannot.

You can however run both procedures in parallel. Raise a grievance but at the same time request a protected conversation (in a separate document). The grievance helps to focus your employer’s mind when it comes to negotiating how much you should receive in a settlement agreement.

Should you get legal advice before raising a grievance?

The legal requirements for raising a formal grievance are fairly straightforward. In many cases, you will not need legal advice before doing so.

If you are negotiating a settlement agreement, alongside the grievance procedure, you should speak to a solicitor who will be able to give you an idea of how much you should be aiming for. Most solicitors offer a free consultation for advice on a potential settlement agreement.

Contact Us For Advice on Your Settlement Agreement

If you have received an offer of a settlement agreement in the context of a grievance, make sure you receive legal advice on it.

We advise clients throughout the UK. We provide clear and prompt advice on a confidential basis.

Call us now for a free consultation.

From a landline: 0800 531 6050
From a mobile: 0330 333 6050

Alternatively, complete the form below and we’ll contact you.

Contact Us for a Free Consultation

If you would like a free consultation about negotiating a settlement agreement in the context of a grievance, complete the form below and we’ll give you a call.

  • Read our Privacy Policy