What is a grievance?


Problems that happen in the workplace can be usually be resolved informally. Sometimes, however, this simply isn’t possible.

Grievance definition

A grievance is a formal, structured complaint made to an employer that is intended to ensure the problem is investigated and steps are taken to resolve it. If you are having trouble at work and talking to your manager about the issue has not helped or is not possible, it may be worth considering raising a grievance.

Submitting a grievance

Most employers have written grievance procedures and if yours does, you should follow it. Ordinarily you will be asked to submit your grievance in writing. What information you include, and the tone you take will vary from case to case, but you should always try to be clear as possible:

  • What the problem is
  • When any specific events occurred
  • Who was involved

In some cases it may be advisable to pay a professional to draft the grievance letter for you.

Important note: Mentioning that you want to raise a grievance is not enough – it must be in writing.

Once your grievance has been submitted, your employer has to investigate the matter and have a meeting with you to discuss the outcome and any action they intend to take. If you are unhappy with the outcome you should be allowed the chance to appeal, and you should always be allowed to take a colleague or a union representative into meetings.

Why raise a grievance?

Unfortunately, not all employers are conscientious, and sometimes it may feel as if raising a grievance will be more trouble than its worth. In fact, this is rarely the case. A grievance is a procedure with the backing of the law, and most employers will take it seriously. If they fail to do so, this could very well count against them in a future tribunal hearing.

Most importantly they are not permitted to victimise you for bringing a grievance to their attention. Conversely, failing to raise a grievance may count against you if you decide to take action against the employer in the future, as they may claim that you did not give them an opportunity to resolve the problem.

Employers have a duty of care to their employees and most will take it seriously. Raising a grievance will probably not be your first step towards resolving a problem, but it is key stage and is vital if the issue goes any further.

Do you need help raising a grievance, or dealing with dismissal issues at work? We work with specialist employment solicitors around the country, and can help resolve your issue. Call us on 0800 1777 162 or fill in the web-form on the right hand side.

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