Grievance policy and procedure

Policy overview

We believe that everyone should receive the same treatment and respect. There may be occasions where you have problems or concerns. This may be about:  

  • an employee's work  
  • working conditions 
  • relationships with colleagues 

Employees may wish to talk to us to find a resolution. This policy and procedure provides a framework and outlines how they can do this in a safe and supportive environment.  

We are committed to attempting to resolve issues. We encourage employees to bring concerns to their line manager.  

We recognise that by working together managers, employees and trade union representatives can work towards resolving issues at an early stage. This removes the need for invoking formal procedures.  

This is achievable by having: 

  • open and constructive working relationships  
  • a genuine desire by all to resolve issues  

Not all attempts to resolve issues will be successful. In this case, employees may need to raise a grievance under this procedure.   

A grievance should be concerned with: 

  • how the employee believes they have been treated by the organisation or managers acting on its behalf 
  • colleagues  
  • an aspect of the employee's work 

Issues and concerns that may cause grievances include concerns regarding: 

  • the allocation of work 
  • working environment or conditions 
  • the opportunities for development 
  • the way the employee feels they have been treated 

We expect employees to act as role models for the organisation. They should proactively challenge behaviour that may affect employee health and well-being. 

As appropriate we will investigate complaints of misconduct on the part of another employee. We will deal with this under the disciplinary procedure.  

We do not consider the following issues under the grievance procedure: 

  • those that are the subject of collective negotiation or consultation with trade unions 

If employees have complaints about any disciplinary action taken against them, we will deal with this as an appeal under the disciplinary procedure. Grievances may occur at all levels. This procedure applies to everyone. 


Enabling individuals and the organisation to operate effectively is a priority. 

Managers and employees should raise and deal with issues in a prompt manner. We will undertake any investigations to understand the concerns and issues raised.

Employees will provide full details of the nature of their concerns, including:  

  • dates and times of relevant events  
  • names of any witnesses 
  • action taken to resolve issues 

We will inform the subject of the issue where a grievance is concerned with a:  

  • colleague 
  • manager 
  • another person  

It is essential to ensure that all parties have the opportunity to state their case. They must provide their evidence of the facts under investigation.  

We will take steps to protect and support all parties during the process. Any acts of victimisation will result in disciplinary action taken against the perpetrator 

We recognise that work relationships can break down. We are committed to supporting all parties in an attempt to restore relationships. 

We require employees to identify the outcome(s) that they are seeking. This will help reach a resolution 

One or more employees may raise grievances. The group may choose to select one or more from the group to represent them.

An employee may raise a grievance for one or more issues or employees.

If employees wish to raise concerns about malpractice at work, they can refer to the whistleblowing policy.

The grievance procedure is not for use where a specific appeal provision exists, such as: 

  • in respect of disciplinary 
  • flexible retirement or working  
  • and job evaluation or grading decisions 

We will deal with grievances raised by employees against elected members as set out in the Constitution. In particular, the protocols on:  

  • elected member and officer relations  
  • harassment, intimidation and unacceptable behaviour 

Managers will decide whether meetings should be held in person or virtually or as a hybrid of both.


Mediation can be considered at any stage of this procedure. This is dependent on the nature of the grievance.

We may recommend it as a means of finding a resolution.  

Mediation involves the appointment of a third-party mediator. They will discuss the issues raised by the grievance and seek to facilitate a resolution.

We will only use mediation where all parties involved in the grievance agree.  

If mediation fails, employees retain the right to proceed through the grievance procedure. 

Harassment and bullying

We are committed to creating a work environment free of harassment and bullying, where everyone is treated with dignity and respect. We recognise the harmful effects of harassment and bullying.

We will not tolerate harassment and bullying of any kind. We will investigate allegations of harassment. If appropriate, we will take disciplinary action.

Employees may use this grievance policy to raise an issue concerning harassment or bullying. 

Alternatively, employees may raise issues in confidence with a senior officer in HR services by email.

We will not tolerate victimisation of a person for making allegations of bullying or harassment. Victimisation is a disciplinary offence. These provisions apply to the workplace during working hours and at other work-related activities, which may be outside of working hours:

  • training courses 
  • conferences  
  • social functions 

Read our harassment and bullying policy.

Informal resolution

Employees should bring issues to the attention of their manager as soon as possible. Meetings at this stage will involve them and their manager. Employees may use their one-to-one or supervision meetings to discuss issues. 

If we decide an investigation is required, we will make the employee aware. We will then carry out the investigation, or appoint an appropriate person to do this. 

An exploration into all attempts to find a resolution will occur. During this time, we will support the employee. Whilst these are informal discussions, we will keep a record of:  

  • the conversation 
  • the issues raised 
  • actions taken to resolve the matter 

Grievance procedure

The following will apply in the grievance procedure: 

  • "working days" are defined as weekdays (Monday to Friday). This excludes Bank Holidays and statutory holidays. This is despite the actual days worked by any employee 
  • employees must raise a grievance within three months of the incident. This is unless exceptional circumstances apply. We may not consider a grievance raised outside of this timescale

Through the formal procedure, employees have the right to be accompanied by: 

  • a trade union representative 
  • a work colleague 
  • an official employed by a trade union 

No other representation will be permitted to attend the meeting 

Where there are grounds for a reasonable adjustment for a disabled employee to be made for an alternative companion. They should discuss this with the manager hearing the grievance. In all cases, they must tell the manager who their chosen companion is at least 24 hours before the meeting. 

If the trade union official is not known to management, they must provide documentation stating that the companion is: 

  • an official of the union concerned 
  • authorised by that union to represent employees 
  • if employed by us, is allowed reasonable time off from duties. This is without loss of pay, but no-one is obliged to act as a companion 

If the employee or the companion is unavailable at the time of the meeting, we may reschedule the meeting. It will take place within the following five days.

If the employee fails to attend the re-arranged hearing, they will be advised that grievance or representation may be: 

  • considered by us in their absence 
  • considered to have been withdrawn and nothing further will be done 

The companion may address the meeting. They can:  

  • present and sum up the grievance 
  • respond on the employee's behalf to any views expressed at the meeting  
  • confer with the employee

The companion does not have the right to:  

  • answer questions on the employee's behalf 
  • address the meeting if the employee does not wish it 
  • prevent us from questioning the employee 

The grievance procedure should not be used where specific appeal provisions exist. For example:  

  • in respect of disciplinary 
  • flexible retirement or working 
  • job evaluation or grading decisions 

Grievance meeting

The first step of the grievance procedure is for the employee to put their complaint in writing to their manager. In situations where a grievance involves their manager, they should raise the grievance with their manager’s manager.  

This written statement will form the basis of any subsequent meetings and any investigations.  

It is essential that it clearly sets out the nature of the grievance. This includes: 

  • dates and times of relevant events 
  • names of any witnesses 
  • the actions taken to date  
  • to indicate the outcome the employee is seeking

If the grievance is unclear, we may ask the employee to clarify the issues before any meetings take place. Employees may complete the Grievance Submission Form (Appendix 1). They may also provide their own written correspondence via letter or email.   

If we have tried to resolve the issues before, through an informal approach, we may request an independent manager. They could be from the same or different service area. They will hear the grievance to provide a new perspective and an independent view. 

The manager concerned will arrange a grievance meeting to take place with a minimum of five working days' notice. Where this timescale is not possible, the manager will agree to a revised timescale with the employee.  

Also in attendance will be:

  • the manager who has dealt with the matter up to now.  This will be the manager who has considered the grievance at the informal stage.
  • an HR representative
  • a note taker

We will provide copies of all relevant documentation, including investigatory reports to those who attend the grievance meetings.

At the meeting, we will ask the employee to explain their grievance. They will need to discuss all the relevant facts concerning the matter. 

Any further meetings to discuss the matter will include providing copies of any relevant documentation. This includes any investigation material. 

Where appropriate, we may appoint an independent investigator who will: 

  • gather facts and information 
  • interview witnesses 

All those involved must have the opportunity to respond to the issues. We will hold as many meetings as necessary to investigate the grievance. 

Following full consideration, we will meet with the employee who raised the grievance. We will advise them of our findings and any actions to be taken to resolve matters. We will confirm this in writing.  

It is important to note that if as a result of a grievance, disciplinary action or other action is being considered towards other employees, the individual who raised the grievance will not be advised of the outcome of those proceedings.  This is confidential and private to the employees involved.

The outcomes of the grievance may be:  

  • to uphold, either wholly or in part, the grievance 
  • to not uphold the grievance 
  • describe the actions that we will take to resolve the grievance or as a consequence of the grievance

We will also advise of the right of appeal.

Grievance appeal

If the employee is dissatisfied with the outcome, they have a right to appeal. This also applies to cases where mediation has not secured agreement by all parties. They will need to state the grounds of the appeal clearly. This should include the basis on which they believe that the result of the grievance was wrong.  

Appeals should be in writing, to the head of HR within ten working days of either:  

  • receipt of the outcome notification  
  • or, confirmation from the mediator that mediation has not secured agreement 

A senior manager will hear the grievance appeal. This will be within a reasonable time. The senior manager will be the Head of Service from the service area concerned or an individual at an equivalent or higher level. An HR representative and a note-taker will be present.  

The manager who heard the formal grievance may be required to attend. They will describe the investigations, considerations made and the reasons for the decisions they reached.  

The appeal meeting is not intended to re-hear the entire grievance or raising any new issues.  

The appeal manager will consider the grounds the employee has put forward for the appeal. They will discuss the resolution the employee seeks. They will assess whether or not the conclusion reached in the original grievance hearing was appropriate. 

This will take place, following an adjournment, in person. It will be confirmed in writing to both the employee and the manager.  

This decision is final and marks the end of the grievance procedure.   

Employee records

We are committed to the appropriate and relevant retention of grievance information. This is in line with applicable legal requirements.

Key dates and outcome information concerning grievances will be maintained securely by HR.  

We will retain a scanned copy of any grievance documentation on a relevant document management system. It is accessible only by HR.

We will destroy the documentation after the applicable retention period.