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Help for small firms

Managing a complaint at work: A step-by-step guide

Managing a complaint at work: Be prepared and know the basics

  • Follow the principles set out in the Acas code.
    • The employee must set out the complaint in writing to their line manager - unless that manager is the subject of the complaint. In that case, the complaint should go to a senior manager not involved in the case.
    • Hold a private meeting into the complaint at which the employee has a right to be accompanied.

Does the employee making the complaint have a right to be accompanied at a grievance meeting into all complaints? Go to the Frequently-asked questions.

  • After the meeting, give the employee your decision in writing.
    • If they appeal against your decision, hold an appeal meeting, allow them to be accompanied and give them your final decision in writing.
  • And, if you have not already done so, it is good practice to:
    • have a formal and clear procedure in writing for handling grievances where attempts to settle it informally have failed.

An example of the wording of a procedure for handling a grievance in a small firm can be found on page 59 of pdf icon Discipline and grievances at work: The Acas guide [692kb].

  • In the employee's Written Statement of Terms and Conditions of Employment, name the person that an employee should raise a grievance with. This is normally their line manager.
  • Train team leaders and managers, and trade union or employee representatives how to deal with grievances.
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