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Raising a grievance at work

Key points

  • Employees should let the employer know the nature of the grievance and issues promptly.
  • Try to resolve any grievance informally in the first instance to try to nip it in the bud.
  • Employers should arrange any formal meeting without unreasonable delay and should carry out any necessary investigations to establish the facts of the case.
  • Employers should allow the employee to be accompanied at any formal meeting and should allow the employee the right to appeal against any formal decision made.
  • Employers should have their grievance procedure in writing and make sure all staff are aware of any policy or procedure.

Grievances are concerns, problems or complaints raised by a staff member. Any worker may at some time have problems or concerns with their work, working conditions or relationships with colleagues that they wish to raise with management.

Issues that may cause grievances include:

  • terms and conditions of employment
  • health and safety
  • work relations
  • bullying and harassment
  • new working practices/organisational changes
  • discrimination.

Grievances are best dealt with at an early stage, informally, with the immediate line manager. However, organisations should have formal procedures in place to handle cases left unresolved. Having formal grievance procedures in place allows employers to give reasonable consideration to any issues which can't be resolved informally and to deal with them fairly and consistently. Pursuing the formal route should be a last resort rather than the first option.

Acas guidance on the repeal of section 138 of the Equality Act (Obtaining Information)

Acas has produced a good practice guide on pdf  Asking and responding to questions of discrimination in the workplace [164kb] to help parties exchange information where there is a question of discrimination.

Government intend to repeal section 138 of the Equality Act 2010, obtaining information, in April 2014 as evidence suggests that the process of obtaining information described in section 138 does not contribute to early resolution of workplace disputes.

Importantly, this change only removes the statutory procedural mechanism of section 138 of the Equality Act 2010, not the scope for establishing facts about whether discrimination, harassment or victimisation under the Equality Act has occurred.

Issues of discrimination can be complex. A written question and answer process can be particularly helpful in establishing what has happened and can help in trying to resolve concerns, avoiding claims and disputes. This good practice guidance explains how people, such as jobseekers and employees who think they may have been discriminated against under the Equality Act 2010, can ask questions about what may have happened to them and how people or organisations such as employers that receive an information request can respond appropriately.

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