How to raise a grievance

December 23, 2015


 A grievance is just a term used to describe a complaint that you want to lodge. It can be about any issues from unpaid overtime to severe bullying and harassment.

Your company is legally obliged to care for you under the following legislation:

  • Health and Safety: Your company has a duty of care to ensure that you are safe at work. That can be from obvious risks such as a moving train, or less obvious such as stress. See Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 & Managing Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (amongst others)
  • Workplace Bullying and Harassment: Everyone has the right to be treated equally at work, without prejudice for having a protected characteristic such as Race, Sex, Sexual Orientation, Age, Religion etc. See Equality Act 2010 (amongst others)

 Why should I take a grievance?

A complaint should be raised informally first (if this is possible). If this does not work then the next step is to raise a formal complaint in writing. If this is difficult for you to do then your union rep can assist you to structure your complaint. The reality is that you are likely to be taking a grievance because you feel that there is no other choice.

Most issues should just be dealt with by an employer. Often they are not and resorting to a formal process is required.


  • It is not wrong to actually stand up for your rights and complain if something is wrong or is not dealt with properly. Why should your company get away with it?
  • There is some legal protection should you raise certain issues such as Health and Safety under the Whistle Blowers Act, Discrimination etc
  • The HR department ARE NOT your friends – they’re only there to mitigate your employer’s liability!
  • Always take a union Representative with you. The union also have specially trained Harassment Reps that can help


  1. Gather Evidence: The type of evidence depends on the nature of your grievance. However some examples are: acquiring witness statements from workplace colleagues, collecting emails and keeping them safe, any medical evidence, work place risk assessments etc.
  2. Policies and Procedures: acquire and review your employer’s policies and procedures prior to lodging a grievance letter. Then read them so that you understand the terms used to describe certain acts such as bullying, and the process that needs to be followed, including appeals.
  3. Data Protection Act: You may be able to use the data protection act to obtain your personal data that is help by the company. This data could be written notes, emails, paper files etc. To obtain this information, you can lodge a click it>> Generic Subject Access Request Form
  4. Notes and Diary: Documenting a case, especially one that is over a long time is vital. Keeping a diary will help as a memory aid and can be used to show contemporary reporting of issues to assist your case.
  5. Time Lines: If appropriate, try to write a time line of events to show how you’ve been treated. This can be very simply written. Just Date and short description of the event

What to put in your grievance letter

  • A grievance should have three main sections: introduction/ complaint/ what outcome that you want
  • It should be to the point. You are not writing ‘war and peace’ but succinctly describing an issue and/ or event
  • Bullet Points often help
  • It needs to be clear so that it is understood

Details of how to write a grievance: 

  1. Put your name, grade, location, contact details and date
  2. The name of the person the grievance is going too i.e. line manager (as per your local grievance procedure)
  3. If the complaint is about your manager, send it to their manager

 Introduction Section: 

  1. Write a basic introduction about your complaint.
  2. For example ‘I would like to raise a formal complaint under the grievance procedure. I feel that I have been badly treated and the company have failed to deal with my complaint informally’
  3. It should include any dates for a hearing that you cannot do, for example if on leave etc
  4. Be explicit. If the case is race discrimination state it. ‘I would like to raise a complaint of Race Discrimination’ etc

Complaint/ Main Section

  1. Clearly set out the facts of your complaint.
  2. Explain what the complaint is about and include all relevant information such as dates of events/ short description of the event/ any witnesses (including grades if necessary to identify them) and where the matter happened
  3. It is often helpful to put events in date order by which they happened. If you do not know the exact date, then try to generalise such as early January etc

Outcome Section 

  1. Write what outcome you wish to gain from the grievance.
  2. For example, it may be payment for missing overtime, an end to bullying, or training. Be specific on this. If you do not know what outcome you want, then you are unlikely to be satisfied with the outcome you eventually receive.
  3. Try to have reasonable expectations. Asking to be promoted to CEO is unlikely to work. Full payment for money that you are owed/ respect at work etc is reasonable.


  • Delays are your enemy
  • Any complaint must be referred to the Acas Early Conciliation ( prior to going to an Employment Tribunal. This MUST be done within three months minus a day from when the last incident occurred i.e. if sacked on the 2nd January, a referral to Acas must be done before 1st April
  • You must allow time for the employer to resolve the matter BUT not at the expense of the case going out of time
  • Should a case potentially come under the authority of an Employment Tribunal or Court, then obtain an click it>> L2-June 2014, plus legal-form-guidelines and repayment-of-fees as soon as possible and send these back to Unity House

Example Letter 1

Example Letter 2

Example Time Line

Other additional helpful documents

Subject_Access_Request_Form LUL


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