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Making Sense of Employment Law

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Grievances are concerns, problems or complaints raised by a staff member. Any worker may at some time have problems or concerns with their work, working conditions or relationships with colleagues that they wish to raise with management.

Issues that may cause grievances include:

  • Terms and conditions of employment
  • Health and safety
  • Work relations
  • Bullying and harassment
  • New working practices / organisational changes
  • Discrimination

Grievances are best dealt with at an early stage, informally, with the immediate line manager. However, organisations should have formal procedures in place to handle cases left unresolved. Having formal grievance procedures in place allows employers to give reasonable consideration to any issues which can't be resolved informally and to deal with them fairly and consistently. Pursuing the formal route should be a last resort rather than the first option.

A grievance hearing is a meeting that deals with any grievance raised by an employee. When arranging a grievance hearing employers should:

  • Hold the meeting in private
  • If the grievance concerns the line manager, consider who else could hear the complaint
  • Tell employees about the right to be accompanied
  • Ensure an open discussion of the issues
  • Consider adjourning the meeting if further advice need to be sought
  • Avoid snap decisions - even if the solution at first seems obvious, there may be repercussions to consider
  • Give you employee the change to appeal if they're not happy with the outcome

There is no prescribed form which the law requires grievance handling to meet. Basic practical guidance is provided in the Acas Code of Practice on Discipline and Grievance. A failure to follow the Code does not in itself make a person or organisation liable to proceedings. However, employer tribunals will take the Code into account when considering relevant cases.

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