How To Write A Letter Of Grievance

How To Write A Letter Of GrievanceHow to write a letter of grievance is discussed below. We are often asked questions such as how to write a grievance letter to HR or how to write a grievance letter against a manager. We cover this process in detail below, but first, it makes sense to think about why you plan to raise a grievance and what your desired outcome is. We also have other articles covering Grievance In Work – An introduction, The Grievance Hearing and The Grievance Outcome and Appeal.

Raising a formal grievance at work usually means you are in a difficult situation. Before you write the grievance, you should already tried to resolve the issues informally, thought carefully about why you are raising the grievance and what you are looking to achieve. How to write a grievance letter to an employer is a big step and requires careful consideration. If you do decide to write the grievance letter, it should be well-drafted and carefully put together.

What we set out below is some guidance on how to write a grievance letter.

Issues at work rarely resolve themselves, so it is important to use any process (such as a grievance) to bring about a desired outcome. As explained, it is important to really think about your desired outcome at the outset.

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How To Write A Letter Of Grievance – Key Points

Here are some key points on how to write your grievance letter:

  1. It must be clear and concise.
  2. Keep it short and in date order.
  3. Focus on the most recent and most serious issues.
  4. Use dates.
  5. Include the specifics, such as what happened, who was there, how and what happened.
  6. Don’t reference compensation, taking legal advice, or make threats (such as making a Tribunal claim).

How should the letter of grievance be set out?

We suggest it is always done in writing.

If the Company has an internal grievance policy, check how a grievance is to be raised and follow what it says.

Otherwise, where an email is fine, we suggest the grievance is a separate letter, drafted in the format you would use for any other formal letter, but please make sure:

  • It is clearly marked as a formal grievance.
  • Is clearly dated.

Employers are meant to deal with grievances properly and within a reasonable time frame, so make sure there is no ambiguity that you are raising a formal grievance or on the date it was submitted.

What tone should I use?

The tone of a grievance is much like how we suggest your attitude/demeanour should be when attending formal meetings.

The tone should be professional, conciliatory, and written with the genuine belief that raising a grievance was your only option. Think formal and polite, not aggressive.

It is usually a good idea to draft the grievance then check it again later, where you can modify the tone. If appropriate, have someone else check it for you and give you feedback.

The Grievance Introduction

Often the most difficult part is just getting started.

Here are some Tips for the introduction:

  • The first sentence can simply say – I am writing this letter to raise a formal grievance.
  • Remember, be conciliatory.
  • Express regret with having to raise a formal grievance and explain why you felt like you had no other options (if there are still other options, consider whether you should try those first).
  • Set out what attempts you have made to resolve the issue, such as meetings with your line manager or HR.
  • If the issues are having a massive impact on you, then explain why.

Dealing with a grievance causes disruption and takes a lot of time, so employers will not take well to grievances being raised for no or minor reasons. You are seeking to persuade the reader (initially your employer) that you have been unfairly treated.

Setting out your Complaints – How To Write A Letter Of Grievance UK

The main body of the grievance should be setting out the basis of your complaints.

We suggest you clearly mark each complaint, giving it a heading and a number.

Set the complaints out in date order and clearly reference the date. If you are not sure, give an indication.

Setting each complaint out in this way will ensure your employer addresses each in turn and if any are glossed over, it will be obvious.

It makes sense to focus on the most recent and most serious. If someone serious happened last week, focus on that, and not something minor that happened 2 years prior. We often see grievances raise historic matters that add little to the complaint, presumably because people think that everything should be included.

A short grievance focussing on serious events is likely to be more effective than a 30-page grievance that is hard to follow.

Note the use of the word effective. Please keep in mind why you are raising the grievance and what you are trying to achieve.

Be Specific. Avoid Labels.

We often see grievances that reference events by a label, such as, I was treated unfairly, my manager was rude, I was bullied.

Labels do not set out what happened. Your description of events needs to include:

  • When (the date).
  • How (was it a meeting, email, phone call etc).
  • What (what happened, what was said or done).
  • Who (who was responsible and who was there).

For example, compare, I am raising a grievance because of the way my manager has been treating me, and:

Incident 1 – 04 January 2023 – JJ Aggressive Behaviour
Last Friday (04 January 2023) I was in the meeting room on the second floor. I was alone.

My manager (JJ) came storming into the room (this was at approximately at 1pm) at he shouted – where is the f**ing report I asked for.

Before I was able to answer the question, he pushed my notepad onto the floor and said – get the report done now.

He then left the room and slammed the door.

As he left, I saw (SS) outside the door, I am pretty sure she saw and heard what happened.

After reading the above, it is clear what the complaint relates to, and we get the when, how, what and who.
There is no need to insult JJ or use labels, a clear description of the event is enough and much more informative.

Reference to Legal Claims

There is no need to refer to specific legal claims or the fact you have taken legal advice if that applies.

However, if you think you have been discriminated against, victimised (ie, been treated badly because you previously alleged being discriminated against) or been treated badly because of raising other issues, you should make this clear.

The implications of these issues can be serious and complicated, so taking professional advice is recommended.

The Conclusion

After setting out the nature of your complaints, you can conclude the grievance.

If you want to stay employed, the conclusion should set out what outcome you are looking for. You are less likely to achieve a resolution unless you put one forward.

If you want to negotiate an exit, then we usually suggest not to write a grievance first, but to start with without prejudice negotiations. However, presuming you have tried that, or that is not an option, then (generally) we do not suggest you propose an outcome in your grievance (that should be done separately on a without prejudice basis). Instead, you can end by explaining how upset/let down you are and that you want the matters raised investigated whilst you consider your options (or something to that effect).

How to write a letter of grievance effectively is an important skill that can make all the difference in fixing issues at work, negotiating a settlement, or in a Tribunal claim. However, done badly, it can also make things worse. If you are having serious issues at work and are considering raising a grievance, this is usually a strong indication that professional assistance is required.

FAQs on How To Write A Letter Of Grievance

1. What is a grievance letter?

  • A grievance letter is a formal written complaint raised by an employee to their employer about workplace issues such as unfair treatment, discrimination, harassment, or other concerns. It is usually how an employee starts a grievance process with their employer, which is often referred to as the “formal” route, as some employers also have an “informal” route (an informal route is usually a conversation to see if the issue can be resolved without the need for a formal grievance process).

2. When should I consider writing a grievance letter?

  • You should consider writing a grievance letter if you have tried to resolve the issue informally without success, and you believe that formalising your complaint is necessary to achieve a resolution. Raising a grievance is not always the best way forward and when it is a good idea, it often needs to be done (and phrased) in a very specific way for it to have a meaningful impact – we discuss this more in our article titled – Concerns At Work – How To Address Work Issues.

3. What should I include in my grievance letter?

  • Your grievance letter should include:
    • A clear and concise introduction stating that you are raising a formal grievance.
    • A detailed account of your complaints, including dates, times, locations, involved parties, and specific incidents.
    • An explanation of the impact these issues have had on you.
    • Any previous attempts you’ve made to resolve the issue informally.
    • A conclusion (if you want something specifically to resolve the grievance, spell it out).

4. How should I structure my grievance letter?

  • Your letter should have the following structure:
    • Introduction: State the purpose of the letter.
    • Body: Detail each complaint with specific information.
    • Conclusion: Summarise your grievances and state what you hope to achieve (e.g., an investigation, resolution of issues).

5. What tone should I use in my grievance letter?

  • The tone should be professional, conciliatory, and respectful. Avoid being aggressive or confrontational. Your aim is to present your concerns clearly and seek a resolution.

6. Should I mention legal advice or potential legal claims in my grievance letter?

  • It’s generally not advisable to mention legal advice or potential claims in your grievance letter. Focus on the specific issues and facts, and seek professional advice separately if needed. Often there are specific type of complaints that need to be phrased in a certain way, but these can be complicated to get correct, which is why professional advice is often required (some examples are raising complaints about discrimination and other serious issues such as health and safety and a breach of the law).

7. How do I conclude my grievance letter if I want to remain employed?

  • If you wish to stay employed, conclude your letter by stating the outcome you are looking for, such as an investigation into your complaints and appropriate action to resolve the issues.

8. What if I want to negotiate an exit from the company?

  • If you want to negotiate an exit, it’s often better to start with without prejudice negotiations rather than raising a grievance. If you would be prefer to exit the business, often raising a grievance can delay that process and will do more harm than good.

9. What should I do if my grievance is not resolved satisfactorily?

  • If your grievance is not resolved to your satisfaction, you may consider further steps such as appealing the decision internally, seeking legal advice, or potentially filing a claim with an Employment Tribunal.

10. How can professional assistance help in writing a grievance letter?

  • Professional assistance can help ensure that your grievance letter is well-drafted, addresses all relevant points effectively, and increases the likelihood of a favourable outcome. An employment lawyer can provide valuable advice and support throughout the process.


This blog is for information purposes only. Nothing should be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice and nothing written should be construed as legal advice or perceived as creating a lawyer-client relationship.

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