The reason why an employee has raised a grievance is that they believe they have been aggrieved by an occurrence in the workplace.

Most grievances contain at least an element of truth. The ‘wrong’ may be very small, it may be blown up out of all proportion, but an individual will generally base a grievance around something that happened that they genuinely weren’t happy with.


The most important advice which can be given to a Manager or Supervisor, is to identify the issue early and address it before the matter escalates and results in a breakdown of the employment relationship.

Having the difficult conversation can be a good conversation.

When early pointers suggest a potential issue, look at the matter from the employees perspective, is it a true reflection of the situation.
Discuss the matter informally, what could realistically be achieved to assist in addressing the matter? Is the matter exaggerated, or indeed a vexatious matter? Remember an employee’s perception is their reality. If the informal discussions heed no progress the individual has the option to register their grievance in a formal written way to highlight clearly what they are aggrieved about without prejudice or discrimination.

If a Grievance is received, a formal response is required acknowledging the receipt of the grievance within a reasonable timescale which should be outlined in the Grievance procedure.

Following a Grievance Process

There are four core steps for an employer to follow in addressing a formal grievance raised

  1. Investigation
    As soon as possible after receiving notification of a grievance, the employer should carry out an investigation. In many cases, this will be a relatively straightforward fact-finding exercise. If the grievance involves other members of staff, they should be informed and given an opportunity to provide their own evidence.
    The investigation process will depend on the specific circumstances of the case.Ultimately, the aim of the investigation is to establish the full facts of the grievance before any decision is taken.
  2. Grievance meeting
    After the investigation, the employer should hold a meeting with the employee so that he or she has an opportunity to explain the complaint.
    The employee should be asked how he or she thinks the grievance should be resolved and what outcome he or she is seeking.
    The Acas code of practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures states that an employee should be given a statutory right to be accompanied by a companion at a grievance meeting.
    Tribunals take the code into account when considering relevant cases, and can increase awards of compensation by up to 25% for an unreasonable failure to comply with it.
  3. Decision
    Having considered the evidence, the employer will need to decide whether to uphold or reject the grievance.
    The decision should be communicated to the employee, in writing, as soon as possible.
    If the grievance is upheld or partially upheld, the employer should tell the employee what action it proposes to take and how this will be implemented.
    The letter should also provide the employee with a right of appeal
  4. Appeal
    If the grievance has been rejected or partially rejected, the employer should be prepared for an appeal.
    This should be dealt with by an impartial manager and, where possible, a more senior manager than the person who dealt with the grievance.
    Most appeal hearings will be in the form of a review but can take the form of a rehearing if the initial stage was procedurally flawed.
    After the hearing, the employee should be informed in writing of the outcome of the appeal. Ensure that notes are taken throughout the process so that anything discussed can be recalled with clarity and accuracy.
    Please do call us at Bower HR Consultancy to:
    • ensure you have a robust Grievance procedure in place in line with ACAS guidelines
    • deliver “good conversation / having a difficult conversation” training to Managers and Supervisors
    • Support through a Grievance process, and be an impartial party in hearing an appeal.

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