Formal grievance procedure: step by step

Step 2: Raising a formal grievance

The employee should check their workplace grievance policy to find out:

  • how to raise a formal grievance

  • who they should send it to

  • what the full grievance procedure is

If there is no workplace grievance procedure, the employee should approach their line manager first. If they do not feel comfortable doing that, they should approach someone else they feel comfortable talking to (such as another manager or someone in HR).

Employees can also talk to their trade union, if they have one, for advice and support.

How an employee can raise a grievance

The employee with the grievance should put it in writing to whoever is most appropriate – this could be their line manager, HR manager or employer.

Your letter or email should include:

  • what the grievance is about

  • any evidence, for example a payslip or employment contract

  • what they want their employer to do about it

It’s a good idea for the employee to be specific where possible, for example ‘I would like to be paid on time in future’.

It’s also helpful to be realistic.


An employee believes they have not been paid their correct wages because someone in payroll made a one-off mistake. In this situation it’s usually realistic to expect the employer to investigate and amend the payment if necessary. It’s not usually realistic to expect payroll staff to be dismissed.

You can also get help from Citizens Advice on:

If employers or employees do not follow a formal procedure

Not following a formal grievance procedure can affect:

A tribunal will take into account whether an employee has a genuine reason for not following a formal procedure. For example, the employee might find it difficult to attend a grievance meeting with someone accused of sexually harassing them.