What is a Grievance?
A grievance is a formal manner of bringing to the attention of your employer issues at work.
Most employers will have a formal grievance procedure to follow, and you should, wherever possible, follow this when raising a grievance with your employer.
A grievance can cover all manner of issues at work, including problems with colleagues, bullying, problems with managers, changes to terms and conditions, holiday issues, health and safety. Basically you can use the grievance to deal with any issue that arises at work, and it is advisable to do this before you start a claim in the Employment Tribunal.
In some cases it is crucial that you make attempts to try to resolve your work issues by way of the grievance procedure before resigning and/or pursuing a claim in the Employment Tribunal. It may seem unfair, but you should at least give the Employer the opportunity to resolve the matter internally before going to the Employment Tribunal.
If you do not raise a grievance beforehand or bring the issue to your Employer’s attention somehow, your Employer will undoubtedly argue in their defence that had they known about the issue they would have taken steps to resolve the matter.
There are of course some cases where this is unrealistic or not possible, and you will not be criticised if you do not pursue a grievance in these circumstances.
Grievances are crucial to claims for constructive unfair dismissal, i.e. where you resign in response to your Employer’s behaviour. Resigning from your employment is a big step, and it is advisable to try to resolve matters by way of a grievance first.
If your Employer fails to deal with your grievance in a timely and fair manner, this will contribute to your evidence against your Employer.
What is the ACAS Code on Grievances?
The ACAS code of practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures is intended to help you and your Employer to resolve grievances effectively, and it sets out guidance on how grievances should be dealt with.
It is not mandatory to follow the ACAS code of practice but the Employment Tribunal will consider it if you have failed to follow the procedure.
Will a grievance affect my compensation?
If you unreasonably fail to follow the ACAS procedure the Employment Tribunal may reduce your compensation by up to 25%.
The Employment Tribunal will look at what is ‘just and equitable’ when deciding how much to reduce your compensation by. This means that if it was unrealistic, unsafe or impractical for you to follow the procedure the Tribunal will consider this and may not reduce your compensation.