Grievances and ending employment

This section looks at key aspects of how to handle grievances in the workplace, as well as ending employment.


Grievances are concerns, problems or complaints raised by employees about any aspect of their job. For example, an employee may choose to raise a grievance about:

  • Duties or workload
  • Pay, hours or working environment
  • Disagreements between staff members, bullying or discrimination
  • Health and safety issues

Where an employee wishes to appeal a disciplinary warning, this should be dealt with under your co-operative’s disciplinary process. Any grievance raising issues of discrimination should be handled with care.

Grievance Procedure

It is a legal requirement to tell your employees how they can raise a grievance, and how your co-operative will deal with their complaint. It is a good idea to put in place a grievance procedure, setting out the steps of the grievance process. You can get a sample grievance procedure for small businesses at

Dealing with Grievances informally

Many grievances can be resolved informally. Your co-operative’s grievance procedure should encourage employees to raise their issues informally before raising a formal grievance.

Dealing with Grievances formally

A formal process should include the following steps:

  1. The employee setting out their grievance in writing
  2. Your co-operative inviting the employee to a meeting
  3. Holding a meeting
  4. Providing a written outcome
  5. 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 is important to follow the Code of Practice, non-compliance could lead to a tribunal awarding more compensation in a successful employment tribunal complaint.

If your employee is disabled, you may need to make reasonable adjustments to the grievance process, for example providing additional breaks during formal meetings.

Data Protection

During the process, you may receive lots of paperwork. It is important to keep all documents relating to the grievance (including meeting notes and letters) securely and in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998.

Ending employment

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.

Where you dismiss an employee, you must give them notice unless the reason for dismissal is gross misconduct. After 1 month at work, the right is to 1 week of notice. With each additional year of service, employees gain a further 1 week of notice, up to a maximum of 12 weeks.

If you are 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.

Gross misconduct

In some cases, an issue might be so serious, you will need to dismiss an employee without notice. You should still follow a fair procedure. Watch the following video to find out about dismissing an employee for gross misconduct. Please also refer to the website for more details on this.

In this section

Recruitmant and resourcing • Family friendly rights • Dealing with sickness absence • Performance management

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Updated: 26/03/2019