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11 January 2023 | HR & Employment

Grievance Procedure UK: Guide for Employers

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This Insight is #7 in our Employment Handbook series, keep an eye out for more.

Companies in the UK need a grievance procedure should anything unfair happen in the workplace. This article explains what employers need to know about Grievance Policies in the UK.

Employers Required by Law to Have a Grievance Policy

In most cases it’s advisable to have policies and procedures even when there may not be any legal requirement for them.

But that is not the case with a Grievance Procedure. UK employers are required by law to have a written Grievance Procedure. If it is found that a UK company does not have one, they may be required to pay additional sums to an employee that brings an employment tribunal case against their employer.

Employers must also notify every employee about where to find the Grievance Procedure.

What Employers Need to Know About Creating an Employee Grievance Procedure

Employers have an implied duty to reasonably and promptly deal with any grievance raised by one of their employees.

If they don’t properly deal with a grievance, the employee may resign and claim that they’ve been constructively dismissed.

In addition, The ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures sets minimum standards of good practice for employers and employees in relation to grievances.

If an employer fails to meet those standards, an Employment Tribunal may increase any award made to an employee by up to 25%. A written Grievance Procedure, helps ensure a fair procedure is followed.

When an employer prepares the Grievance Procedure, they should build in a certain amount of flexibility in dealing with grievances so as to allow the procedure to fit the many different situations in which a grievance may arise.

Even though the Grievance Procedure needs to be flexible, it still needs to stay within the requirements of the ACAS Code, unless there is good reason to depart from it.

Also, as a minimum, the Grievance Procedure must legally set out:

  • Who the grievance should be submitted to
  • How the grievance should be submitted, and
  • The next steps that will be taken after a grievance is raised

Free Template: Draft Grievance Procedure

We’ve prepared a draft Grievance Procedure, which if followed allows an employer to meet the minimum standards required for good practice.

It covers the essential points, such as:

  • How an employee should raise a grievance
  • To whom they need to send their grievance (and appeal if appropriate)
  • Any additional steps the employee needs to take
  • How the grievance will be handled

The draft Grievance Procedure reminds employees of their legal right to be accompanied at the grievance hearing and appeal. Although the procedure sets out what needs to happen at each stage, we’ve made sure there is some flexibility, so you can deal with any grievance in the way you want to.

Your responsibility as an Employer

As a matter of law employers must give employees employment contracts which cover the key terms of the employment relationship, but the contract won’t cover all of the policies, procedures and expectations for the relationship between a business and the people within it. A employee handbook can include information for all team members, including employees, workers, apprentices and agency staff. Not only can a employee handbook bring together useful guidance for everyone on the culture, values and expectations the business as but it will often be a resource that can save a dispute from arising or provide the best framework for resolving a dispute. The non-contractual policies and procedures that can be included in a employee handbook will sit alongside contracts of employment to set out how employees are expected to act and how the employer will deal with certain situations.

Putting all the policies and procedures together in one place that is accessible to everyone working in a business is good practice and can provide an invaluable framework for reference on all of the HR issues to cover. If any grievance or dispute arises, having a policy or procedure to refer to and follow can help prevent the situation escalating. If the worst occurs and a claim comes before a tribunal, being able to show the policies and procedures that were followed can make a huge difference to the outcome.

Grievance Procedure Policies are useful to include in an Employee Handbook as they outline what an employee should expect when going through the process of a grievance before deciding to go down that route. For more information about Grievance Procedure Policies get in touch with our Employment Law team today on 0330 912 8338.

This article and the policy are provided for general information purposes only and you should take specialist advice in relation to specific circumstances. Whilst we endeavour to ensure that what we say is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy, and Atkins Dellow LLP does not accept any liability for error or omission.

© Atkins Dellow LLP 2022

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Please note this article is provided for general information purposes only to clients and friends of Atkins Dellow LLP. It is not intended to impart legal advice on any matter. Specialist advice should be taken in relation to specific circumstances. Whilst we endeavour to ensure that the information in this article is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy, and Atkins Dellow LLP does not accept any liability for error or omission.

© Atkins Dellow LLP 2022

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