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I have received a letter or email that looks like a grievance. What do I do?

If an employee has come to you with a complaint, whatever it is, you should take it seriously. Even if you suspect that the grievance is ‘tactical’ (to try to deflect a disciplinary issue, or to engineer a settlement deal to exit the business) it’s still important to address concerns properly.

We strongly recommend you refer to the Acas Code of Practice for Disciplinary & Grievance Procedures, which underpins in the law in this area.

The letter or email you have received doesn’t have to be labelled ‘grievance’. If it reads like a grievance, you should treat it as a grievance! If what has been sent is unclear, you can ask the employee to set out more details in writing, with as much detail as possible so you can understand what their concerns are.

Like a disciplinary, the two key stages are then investigation and hearing. Unlike a disciplinary it’s not so preferable to separate out who performs these two roles. Investigation will include gathering facts and evidence, and speaking with the employee and any witnesses to events they refer to.

Always ensure the employee is informed of their right to be accompanied.

At a hearing, you will want to listen to the employee’s explanation of their grievance, but do insist that they tell you how they would like to see their grievance resolved (so that you can consider it).

Your decision must be confirmed in writing, explaining your reasons, but take care with confidentiality if the outcome includes any other employee.

Remember that with any formal grievance decision, you must give the employee the opportunity to appeal, within a specified timescale. Ideally this would be conducted by someone not involved in the original decision.

Do also watch our video:

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