What can I do?

If talking about things with your employer hasn’t worked, you might want to think about another way to sort out the problem. One way of doing this is to put in a grievance. A grievance is a way of more formally raising your concerns, problems or complaints about work with your employer.

How do I put in a grievance?

You can use a grievance to raise anything you’re unhappy about with your employer. If your employer has a grievance process or procedure, this might be in your contract or staff handbook if you have one. If you’re not sure whether your employer has a grievance procedure, ask them.

You should try to put your complaints in writing, and keep a copy of your grievance and any response from your employer. This may be important if your complaint is not resolved.

If you have difficulty writing down your grievance, an experienced adviser, for example at your local Citizens Advice Bureau, should be able to help you.

Even if your employer doesn’t have a written grievance procedure, you can still raise anything you’re not happy about with them. This might simply be a meeting with your employer to talk things over. But it is usually still better to put your complaint in writing, give it to your employer and keep a copy. They should usually arrange a meeting with you, and give you the chance to appeal their decision if you don’t agree with it. ACAS (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) have a code of good practice in grievances, which your employer should follow.

Do I have to put in a grievance?

Although you may not want to put in a grievance, you should try and sort things out with your employer before going to the employment tribunal. If there are different stages to the grievance procedure, try, where possible, to go through all of them before taking other action. Compensation may be reduced if you win your case, but didn’t put in a grievance before making a claim.

Making a claim to the employment tribunal should always be seen as a last resort.

Write to your employer:

If you haven’t been able to sort out your problem by talking directly to your manager, the next thing to do is write to your employer. Give details of your problem, date your letter and keep a copy. If you have not done so already, you might find it helpful to tell your employer any suggestions you have for resolving the problem.

 Meet with your employer:

Your employer should arrange an initial meeting at a reasonable time and place to discuss your grievance. You have a right to ask either a colleague from work or a trade union representative to accompany you to the meeting. Your employer should give you the opportunity to explain your grievance and any suggestions you may have for resolving it. After the meeting, your employer should write to you, telling you what they have decided to do about your grievance.

Appeal to your employer:

If you don’t agree with your employer’s decision, you should write a letter of appeal to them:

  • saying that you are appealing against their decision, and
  • explaining why you don’t agree with it.

Your employer should arrange a further meeting to discuss your appeal. Where possible, a different and more senior manager should deal with this appeal.

You have a right to ask either a colleague from work or a trade union representative to accompany you to the appeal meeting. After this appeal meeting, the employer should write to you to tell you their final decision.

If you’re still not happy with your employer’s decision, you may want to think about other ways of sorting out your problems with your employer.

There are lots of places you can go to for advice:

Can my union help?

If you’re a member of a trade union, you should always try to talk about any problems you have at work with your union official. Part of your trade union’s role is to help sort out problems individual members have at work. Problems can often  be resolved more easily with the help of your union. But if you’re unhappy with a decision your union has made for you, then you should get advice elsewhere.

You may have employment advice cover in you household insurance, so also remember to check – it’s the sort of think that’s included in cover automatically as an added extra.


Time limits

If you want to take your complaint to the employment tribunal, usually, you’ve only got 3 months minus 1 day to get your claim in to the tribunal. This is usually measured from the time when the last event happened.

Time limits still apply even if you’re making a grievance or appeal.

Make sure you know what your time limits are and don’t miss your chance to put your claim to the tribunal.

For help from Salford Citizens Advice visit your local bureau or telephone our advice line: 0844 826 9695 (if calling from a landline or if calling from a mobile 0300 456 2554).

For more details of our service visit our website at: www.salfordcab.org.uk

Tom Togher.