Grievances are workplace concerns or issues raised by an employee with their employer. By law, employers must provide their staff with a method of dealing with grievances in an appropriate manner.

Grievance procedures are a crucial reference point when resolving disputes raised by staff and provide a clear structure to follow if an issue should arise.

Grievance procedures should be easily accessible to all employees – whether full-time, part-time, temporary or trainee – and explained in detail as part of their induction. This usually forms part of the employment contract or employee handbook. Even if a procedure is not documented in writing, the ability to raise a grievance is a considered an implied term of the employment contract.

Employers may have already covered much of the same ground in a separate disciplinary or harassment policy that details the necessary steps to raising a formal grievance. In any case, the procedure should be explained and made readily available to all employees.

What does a grievance procedure include?

A well-formed grievance procedure should aim to include these steps for employees to follow as standard:

  • Submit a formal written letter that details the grievance
  • A formal meeting will be arranged to discuss the issue in detail
  • The ability to appeal an employer’s decision

It is also the duty of the employer to address grievances in a timely manner; left unresolved, these issues could result in a tribunal claim against the employer.

Benefit to employees

Grievance procedures provide employees with all the information and steps they need to follow in order to raise a formal complaint. It also makes all employees aware that their concerns are taken seriously, which promotes a stronger work relationship between staff and their employer.

Dealing with grievances in an appropriate and timely manner is the mark of a considerate employer who treats their workforce with respect, which bodes well for talent retention and productivity in the long term.

The law behind grievance procedures

Although it is not formal legislation, businesses should follow the guidelines listed in the Acas Discipline & Grievance Code of Practice to ensure best practice.

Summary

  • Employers are required by law to deal with employee grievances in an appropriate and timely manner.
  • A written grievance policy forms a key reference point for both employers and employees when dealing with significant work-related issues.
  • Businesses should familiarise themselves with the Acas Discipline & Grievance Code of Practice.