Grievance Procedure

Grievance Procedure
Grievance Procedure
Full Overview Of Grievance Procedure

At DLS Solicitors, we understand that maintaining a harmonious and productive work environment is crucial for any organisation’s success. A vital aspect of achieving this is a robust grievance procedure. A grievance procedure is a formal process that allows employees to raise concerns or complaints about workplace issues, ensuring they are addressed promptly and fairly.

This overview explores grievance procedures’ importance, key components, benefits, and practical considerations. We aim to provide you with a thorough understanding of implementing and managing an effective grievance procedure in your organisation.


What are Grievance Procedures?

A grievance procedure is a systematic approach for employees to voice their concerns regarding various aspects of their employment, such as working conditions, management decisions, interpersonal conflicts, or breaches of employment policies. It serves as a formal mechanism to address grievances in a structured manner, ensuring that issues are resolved fairly and consistently.

The Importance of Grievance Procedures

Grievance procedures are critical in fostering a positive work environment and promoting employee satisfaction. Here are some key reasons why having an effective grievance procedure is essential:

  1. Promotes Fairness and Transparency: A well-defined grievance procedure ensures that all employees are aware of the process for raising concerns and that their issues will be addressed impartially. This promotes a culture of fairness and transparency within the organisation.
  2. Encourages Open Communication: Organisations can encourage open communication by providing a formal channel for employees to express their concerns. This helps identify and address issues before they escalate into major conflicts.
  3. Enhances Employee Morale: Employees who feel their grievances are taken seriously and addressed appropriately are more likely to be satisfied and motivated. This can lead to increased productivity and reduced turnover.
  4. Mitigates Legal Risks: A properly managed grievance procedure can help organisations avoid potential legal disputes by demonstrating that they have taken reasonable steps to address employee concerns.
  5. Improves Workplace Relationships: Addressing grievances promptly and effectively can help resolve conflicts and improve relationships between employees and management.

Main Components of a Grievance Procedure

An effective grievance procedure should include the following key components:

Clear Policy Statement

The grievance procedure should begin with a clear policy statement outlining the organisation’s commitment to addressing employee grievances fairly and promptly. This statement should emphasise the importance of the procedure and the organisation’s dedication to maintaining a positive work environment.

Definition of a Grievance

It is important to provide a clear definition of what constitutes a grievance. This can include issues related to working conditions, management decisions, discrimination, harassment, or any other matter that affects an employee’s work experience.

Step-by-Step Process

The procedure should outline a step-by-step process for raising and addressing grievances. This typically includes the following stages:

  • Informal Resolution: Encourage employees to address their concerns informally with their immediate supervisor or manager. This can often resolve issues quickly without the need for formal procedures.
  • Formal Grievance Submission: If the informal approach does not resolve the issue, employees should be able to submit a formal grievance in writing. The procedure should specify the format and content required for the grievance submission.
  • Investigation: A thorough investigation should be conducted once a formal grievance is submitted. This may involve gathering evidence, interviewing relevant parties, and reviewing documentation.
  • Resolution: After the investigation, the organisation should formally respond to the grievance, outlining the findings and any proposed actions to resolve the issue.
  • Appeal Process: Employees should have the right to appeal the decision if they are unsatisfied with the outcome. The procedure should outline the steps for submitting an appeal and the timeframe for doing so.

Roles and Responsibilities

Clearly define the roles and responsibilities of all parties involved in the grievance procedure. This includes the employee raising the grievance, the manager or supervisor, the HR department, and other relevant individuals.


Maintaining confidentiality is crucial in the grievance process to protect the privacy of all parties involved. The procedure should outline how information will be handled and ensure that only those directly involved in the investigation have access to the details.


Specify the timelines for each stage of the grievance process to ensure that issues are addressed promptly. This includes deadlines for submitting grievances, conducting investigations, and providing responses.


Maintain detailed records of all grievances, investigations, and resolutions. This helps in tracking patterns of issues, ensuring accountability, and providing evidence in case of legal disputes.

Benefits of a Grievance Procedure

Implementing a grievance procedure offers numerous benefits to both employees and employers:

For Employees

  1. Empowerment: Employees feel empowered knowing they have a formal process to raise their concerns and seek resolution.
  2. Job Satisfaction: Addressing grievances promptly can enhance job satisfaction and reduce stress.
  3. Trust in Management: A transparent grievance procedure builds trust between employees and management, fostering a positive work culture.

For Employers

  1. Conflict Resolution: Effective grievance procedures help resolve conflicts before they escalate, leading to a more harmonious work environment.
  2. Legal Protection: Demonstrating that grievances are handled appropriately can protect the organisation from potential legal claims.
  3. Employee Retention: Satisfied employees are more likely to stay with the organisation, reducing turnover and associated costs.
  4. Reputation Management: A fair and transparent grievance procedure enhances the organisation’s reputation as a good employer.

Practical Considerations

When implementing a grievance procedure, there are several practical considerations to keep in mind:

Communication and Training

Ensure that all employees are aware of the grievance procedure and understand how to use it. This can be achieved through regular communication, training sessions, and inclusion in the employee handbook.

Managerial Training

Train managers and supervisors on how to handle grievances effectively. This includes understanding the procedure, conducting investigations, and maintaining confidentiality.

Cultural Sensitivity

Be mindful of cultural differences and ensure that the grievance procedure is inclusive and sensitive to employees’ diverse backgrounds.


Apply the grievance procedure consistently to all employees, regardless of their position or status within the organisation. This ensures fairness and avoids perceptions of bias.

External Support

In complex cases, consider seeking external support from HR consultants or legal advisors to ensure that grievances are handled appropriately and in compliance with employment laws.

Grievance procedures in the UK are governed by various legal frameworks and legislation, including the Employment Rights Act 1996, the Equality Act 2010, and the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures.

Employment Rights Act 1996

This Act provides employees with the right to raise grievances and sets out the requirements for fair and lawful treatment in the workplace.

Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 protects employees from discrimination, harassment, and victimisation. It is important for grievance procedures to address issues related to equality and ensure that employees are treated fairly regardless of their protected characteristics.

ACAS Code of Practice

The ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures provides practical guidance for employers on handling grievances. While the Code is not legally binding, failing to follow its recommendations can be taken into account by employment tribunals.

Case Studies

To illustrate the practical application of grievance procedures, let’s consider a few hypothetical scenarios:

Workplace Harassment

Ms. Taylor, an employee, raises a grievance about repeated instances of harassment by a colleague. The organisation follows the grievance procedure, thoroughly investigates, and finds the claims substantiated. The harasser is disciplined, and measures are implemented to prevent future occurrences. Ms. Taylor feels supported and confident in the organisation’s commitment to a safe workplace.

Unfair Treatment

Mr. Brown believes he has been unfairly overlooked for a promotion due to his manager’s bias. He submits a formal grievance, and the organisation investigates the promotion process. The investigation reveals inconsistencies, leading to a review of the promotion criteria and additional training for managers. Mr. Brown’s concerns are addressed, and he is given a fair opportunity for future promotions.


Ms. Patel raises a grievance alleging racial discrimination in project allocation. The organisation investigates and finds evidence supporting her claim. Steps are taken to address the discriminatory behaviour, including diversity training for employees and managers. Ms. Patel’s grievance is resolved, and the organisation takes proactive measures to prevent future discrimination.

Best Practices for Managing Grievance Procedures

To ensure the effectiveness of your grievance procedure, consider the following best practices:

Regular Review

Periodically review and update the grievance procedure to ensure it remains relevant and effective. Incorporate feedback from employees and adapt to changes in legislation and organisational policies.

Employee Involvement

Involve employees in the development and review of the grievance procedure. This promotes buy-in and ensures the procedure reflects the needs and concerns of the workforce.

Clear Communication

Clearly communicate the grievance procedure to all employees, ensuring they understand their rights and the steps involved in raising a grievance. Use multiple channels, such as intranet, email, and training sessions, to disseminate this information.

Neutral Investigations

Ensure that investigations are conducted impartially and by individuals who are not directly involved in the grievance. This helps maintain objectivity and fairness in the process.

Support for Employees

Provide support to employees throughout the grievance process. This can include access to counselling services, employee assistance programmes, and clear guidance on the steps involved in the procedure.


A well-structured grievance procedure is a cornerstone of effective human resource management, promoting fairness, transparency, and open communication within the organisation. By understanding the key components, benefits, and practical considerations, you can implement a grievance procedure that addresses employee concerns promptly and fairly, contributing to a positive and productive work environment.

At DLS Solicitors, we are dedicated to helping organisations develop and manage effective grievance procedures. Our experienced team is here to provide expert guidance and support, ensuring that your grievance procedure aligns with best practices and legal requirements. Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you in fostering a harmonious workplace and addressing employee grievances effectively.

Grievance Procedure FAQ'S

A Grievance Procedure is a formal process established by an employer to address employee complaints or concerns regarding their work, workplace conditions, or treatment by colleagues or management.

A Grievance Procedure is important because it provides a structured way for employees to raise and resolve issues, ensuring fairness and consistency in handling complaints and helping to maintain a positive working environment.

Typical steps include:

  1. Informal discussion with a manager.
  2. Formal written grievance submission.
  3. Investigation by the employer.
  4. Grievance hearing.
  5. Decision and communication of the outcome.
  6. Right to appeal the decision.

An employee should submit a formal grievance in writing, clearly outlining the nature of the complaint, relevant facts, dates, and any supporting evidence. This should be addressed to their immediate manager or the designated HR representative.

Upon receiving a grievance, an employer should acknowledge receipt, conduct a thorough investigation into the complaint, arrange a grievance hearing, and provide a written response detailing the outcome and any actions to be taken.

Yes, an employee has the right to be accompanied to a grievance hearing by a colleague, trade union representative, or an official employed by a trade union.

If an employee is not satisfied with the outcome, they have the right to appeal the decision. The appeal should be submitted in writing, stating the reasons for the appeal, and it will be reviewed by a different, usually more senior, manager or panel.

While there are no statutory time limits, employers typically set their own timeframes within which grievances should be raised, often outlined in the company’s grievance policy. Prompt action is encouraged to ensure issues are addressed in a timely manner.

If an employer does not follow its grievance procedure, it may be considered a breach of contract or employment law. If the employee feels forced to resign due to the employer’s actions, this could lead to claims of unfair treatment or constructive dismissal.

While employees can anonymously raise concerns, it can make the investigation more difficult. Employers are encouraged to address all complaints seriously, but anonymity may limit the ability to effectively gather evidence and resolve the issue.


This site contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. Persuing this glossary does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

This glossary post was last updated: 17th July 2024.

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