Grievances are concerns, problems or complaints raised by employees about any aspect of their job.
Here, we cover some key aspects of handling workplace grievances, as well as ending employment. Begin by watching our short overview video.
What could an employee raise a grievance about?
- Duties or workload
- Pay, hours or working environment
- Disagreements between staff members, bullying or discrimination
- Health and safety issues
Any grievance raising issues of discrimination should be handled with care. Where an employee wishes to appeal a disciplinary warning, this should be dealt with under your co-op’s disciplinary process.
It’s a legal requirement to tell your employees how they can raise a grievance, and how your co-op will deal with their complaint. It’s good practice to have a grievance procedure, setting out the steps of the process. You can get a sample grievance procedure for small businesses at www.acas.org.uk.
Dealing with grievances informally
Many grievances can be resolved informally. Your co-op’s grievance procedure should encourage employees to raise their issues this way before raising a formal grievance.
Dealing with grievances formally
A formal process should include the following steps:
- The employee setting out their grievance in writing
- Your co-op inviting the employee to a meeting
- Holding a meeting
- Providing a written outcome
- Allowing the employee an opportunity to appeal if they are unhappy with the outcome
Employees have the right to be accompanied to the meeting by a work colleague, trade union official or representative.
You can find more information about these steps in the Acas Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures. It’s important to follow this Code of Practice – non-compliance could lead to an employment tribunal awarding more compensation if the employee’s complaint is successful.
If your employee is disabled, you may need to make reasonable adjustments to the grievance process, for example providing additional breaks during formal meetings.
During the process, you may receive lots of paperwork. It’s important to keep all documents relating to the grievance (including meeting notes and letters) securely and in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998.
Your staff may choose to leave, or you may need to dismiss them. The typical reasons for dismissing staff are for poor conduct, attendance or performance.
When you dismiss an employee, you must give them notice – unless the reason is gross misconduct (see below). After one month at work, employees have the right to one week of notice. With each additional year of service, they gain a further week of notice, up to a maximum of 12 weeks.
If you’re thinking of dismissing an employee, you should read the Acas Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures. Generally, employers should investigate the issues, hold a meeting and allow an appeal. The aim of the process is to improve future conduct, attendance or performance.
In some cases, an issue might be so serious, you’ll need to dismiss an employee without notice. You should still follow a fair procedure. Refer to the guidance on the www.gov.uk website and watch the following video about dismissing an employee for gross misconduct.