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You can view further information on the ACAS Discipline and grievance - Acas Code of Practice page, alternatively download the latest Acas Code of Practice on Discipline and Grievance [167kb].

You can also download Discipline and grievances at work: The Acas guide [692kb] or their guidance on Conducting workplace investigations [445kb].

What is a grievance?

The purpose of grievances is to give employees a way to raise with management internally their concerns about their working environment or work relationships such as changes in terms and conditions, excessive workloads, being refused holidays, unfair or discriminatory treatment by managers, and harassment from colleagues.

The grievance procedure

Employees should be told the procedure for taking out a grievance. Under section 1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, employers must give employees a written statement of the particulars of their employment no later than two months after they started work. Under

section 3, the statement must include details of a grievance procedure, i.e. how to start a grievance and who to write to.

Grievance procedures tend to be simple with small private sector employers, but can get quite detailed and complex in the public sector. Either way, the key elements are usually:

Optional informal stage

First formal stage. [The employee’s own grievance procedure may increase rights].

Appeal stage or second formal stage

Before submitting a grievance it is important to contact your representative or call Head Office. ATCU would always advise a less formal meeting which the union would facilitate. The majority of the time this would resolve the issue.

If it is not possible to resolve a grievance informally then it should be raised formally and without unreasonable delay with a manager who is not the subject of the grievance. This should be done in writing and should set out the nature of the grievance.

Employers and employees should raise and deal with issues promptly and should not unreasonably delay meetings, appeals, decisions or confirmation of those decisions. Employers should carry out any necessary investigations, to establish the facts of the case.

They should allow employees to be accompanied at any formal grievance meeting and allow an employee to appeal against any formal decision made. The law gives employees the right to be accompanied by a work colleague or a trade union representative.

The companion may address the hearing and confer with the worker during the hearing. The companion may put and sum up the worker’s case and may respond on the worker’s behalf to any view expressed at the hearing, but s/he may not answer questions on behalf of the worker.

Each company will have their own grievance policy but they must be mindful of ACAS Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures which gives practical guidance for handling these issues in the workplace. Failure to follow the Code doesn't make a person or organisation liable to proceedings, however, an employment tribunal will take it into account when considering relevant cases.