After attending a grievance hearing, you are likely to receive a written grievance outcome. The timing and content of the grievance outcome can have significant implications on your employment.
How you respond to the grievance outcome will depend on the decision reached by your employer, but where you go from here is often important, particularly if your grievance was not upheld.
We routinely help and advise people going through issues at work, such as grievances, helping them understand where they stand and what they should do about their situation.
The Grievance Outcome
After attending your grievance hearing, your employer is likely to produce a grievance outcome, which is a letter explaining their decision in relation to your grievance.
Most grievances are not upheld.
The grievance outcome will usually set out that you have a right to appeal the decision and how you should do this. Cross reference this with the company grievance policy.
It is common to be given 5 working days to appeal the grievance outcome, by writing to a person more senior than the person that dealt with the grievance and who was not involved (this may not be feasible, depending on the size of the company).
When reading the grievance outcome, make sure you understand the decision and if any elements of the grievance were upheld. Some employers will uphold some aspects of the grievance, usually the less serious aspects, to reduce any criticism that the grievance was not dealt with fairly. Also check that all aspects of the grievance were dealt with, as some complaints may have been missed out.
In relation to the aspects of the grievance that were not upheld, understand the reasoning given and if it was supported by evidence or not.
The Grievance Outcome – The Acas Code
In relation to the grievance outcome, The Acas Code of Practice states:
“40. Following the meeting, decide on what action, if any, to take. Decisions should be communicated to the employee, in writing, without unreasonable delay and, where appropriate, should set out what action the employer intends to take to resolve the grievance. The employee should be informed that they can appeal if they are not content with the action taken.”
If you raise a grievance, then your employer should try to resolve it. Many employers simply dismiss the complaints and fail to look for or make any attempts to find a solution. You can argue this is not acceptable and if this applies to you, can form the basis of your appeal.
The Grievance Appeal
The Acas Code
In relation to a grievance appeal, the Acas Code of Practice states:
“41. Where an employee feels that their grievance has not been satisfactorily resolved they should appeal. They should let their employer know the grounds for their appeal without unreasonable delay and in writing.
42. Appeals should be heard without unreasonable delay and at a time and place which should be notified to the employee in advance.
43. The appeal should be dealt with impartially and wherever possible by a manager who has not previously been involved in the case.
44. Workers have a statutory right to be accompanied at any such appeal hearing.
45. The outcome of the appeal should be communicated to the employee in writing without unreasonable delay.”
It is important to bear the above in mind when making your appeal. For example, if you feel the manager dealing with the grievance appeal is not impartial, you can make this point and request that it is heard by someone else. The same applies if the person dealing with the grievance appeal is not more senior than the person that delivered the grievance outcome.
Only request someone else deal with the grievance appeal if this is really necessary and there may be limits depending on the size of your employer.
Writing the Grievance Appeal
You may have a fairly short period of time to submit your grievance appeal. If you need more time, request this as soon as possible, and before the original deadline has expired, but only ask for more time if you really need it.
Writing the grievance appeal is similar to the original grievance – see our guidance on that here.
However, in the grievance appeal, your focus should be on the grievance outcome and the aspects of the grievance that were not upheld. This is not an opportunity to raise new complaints and it does not make sense to address (at least in any detail) points that have already been upheld.
You should address the complaints that were not upheld in turn, focussing on why the decision not to uphold the grievance was incorrect and refer to the evidence you have to support this. If you have any new evidence, make specific reference to it and send it to your employer in advance of the grievance appeal hearing, making sure to keep copies for yourself.
If the grievance outcome rejects your request to resolve the grievance, then you can address that in the appeal. If there was not a reasonable attempt to resolve the grievance, that can also form the basis of your appeal. As stated, your employer is obligated to try and find a resolution to your grievance, but many just write back and say that the points raised were not upheld and make no attempt to resolve the issues.
The Grievance Appeal Hearing
Your employer is likely to hold a grievance appeal hearing, giving you the opportunity to explain the basis of the grievance appeal with the appeal officer (the person deciding over the grievance appeal).
You have the right to be accompanied by a trade union representative or colleague.
It is important to make sure the person dealing with the grievance appeal has been given all of the relevant documents (which should have been collated and used at the previous grievance hearing) and has been able to review them. You can simply ask if they have the documents and have been able to read them.
The grievance appeal hearing is an opportunity to discuss the basis of the appeal
It is important to go prepared and make sure the points of appeal are the focus along with what you are asking for to resolve the grievance overall.
Guidance on how to prepare and act at the grievance appeal hearing is the same as the original grievance hearing, which we cover in more detail here.
One point that bears repeating is your mindset and how you conduct yourself at the meeting. Even if you fear the outcome is predetermined and the grievance appeal will just rubber stamp the grievance decision, it is best to attend with an open mind and with the belief the grievance appeal is genuine and fair.
The benefit of this mindset is that your participation in the grievance appeal hearing will be more effective. If the grievance appeal hearing is held on genuine grounds, then you will be more persuasive, and your version will be understood. This increases the likelihood of the grievance appeal going in your favour.
If the grievance appeal is pre-determined and conducted as a box-ticking exercise, then you will be reflected much more positively in the meeting minutes/recording, which may be important at a later stage.
The Grievance Appeal Outcome
After the grievance appeal hearing, your employer will write to you with its outcome. Under most grievance procedures, this will be the final outcome.
The grievance appeal officer may conduct further investigations after speaking with you at the grievance appeal hearing.
If you feel the grievance appeal was unfair or still did not resolve your issues, then you will have to consider your options, which may be negotiating your exit or a Tribunal claim, although for both of these we suggest taking professional advice.
Going through a grievance process is a big step at work and employees are reluctant to go through the process. There are pros and cons of raising a grievance, which are fact specific, so think carefully (or even better, take advice) beforehand.
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.