Your Rights: Work Complaints

Dealing with Work Complaints

You may want to take this up with your boss if you have a question, issue or complaint at work. This is called ‘grievance raising‘. 

Maybe you want to lodge a complaint about stuff like: 

For example, if you are not offered a promotion because you believe you might be bullying discrimination at work, you might think your work colleagues are harassing you because of your race, age, disability or sexual orientation you are expected to do things as part of your job the terms and conditions of your employment contract – for example, your pay the way you are being handled at work 

By actually talking to your boss informally, it might be possible to figure out your complaint. 

Prior to raising a grievance 

The easiest way to address an issue with your boss is always to speak to them informally. 

To clarify your questions, you can ask for a meeting with your immediate boss. You may find it helpful to suggest what you would like them to do to your employer to fix the issue. You could speak to someone else in the company in a position of authority if you don’t believe you can talk to your immediate boss. 

Where appropriate, before taking any further steps, you should always try to figure the issue out informally first. You may want to raise a formal petition if you can’t figure out your complaint in this way. 

If you end up appealing to an employment tribunal, if they find it was unfair that you didn’t bring a claim first, the tribunal could limit the benefits they give you. 

How to raise a formal complaint 

A standardized process for raising a grievance should also be open to the boss. Where appropriate, you should try to adopt this. In your Business Handbook, HR or Staff manual, on your HR intranet platform or in your contract of employment, you should be able to find specifics of your employer’s grievance procedure. 

You should follow the Acas Code of Practice if your employer does not have a formal procedure. 

The Code of Practice sets out principles of fairness and rational actions that are required to be practiced in certain cases by employers and workers when dealing with a conflict. 

There is a specific time limit under which you would need to file your application if you end up making a claim to an employment tribunal. Usually this is three months minus a day from the date when the last thing you’re complaining about happened. 

While you’re taking out a grievance, the time limit also applies. This means you need to make sure that when going through the grievance process, you don’t run out of time. 

It’s always a good idea if you carry out a grievance to make a note of exactly what happens and when. 

The recommendations in the Acas Code of Practice are based on these measures. 

Write to the boss of yours 

If by talking directly to your boss, you have not been able to work out your dilemma, the next thing to do is write to your employer. Offer your problem information, date your letter and keep a copy. If you have not already done so, you should find it helpful to notify your employer of any suggestions you have for solving the issue. 

You will be able to use our: 

Model letter to raise a job grievance complaint checklist 

Meet with an employer of yours 

In order to address your complaint, your boss can schedule an initial meeting at a suitable time and place. If you may bring a colleague from work or a trade union leader to the meeting, you have the right to ask your boss. 

You should be given the opportunity by your boss to clarify your grievance and any ideas you might have for addressing it. 

Your boss should write to you after the conference, telling you what they have agreed to do with your grievance. 

Your employer’s appeal 

If you don’t agree with the decision of your boss, you should write them a letter of appeal: 

To state that you are appealing against their decision and to clarify why you do not agree. 

A further meeting to resolve your appeal should be scheduled by your boss. A separate and more senior manager should deal with this appeal where possible. If you may bring a colleague from work or a trade union leader to accompany you, you have the right to ask your boss. 

The employer should write to you after this appeal conference, to tell you their final decision. 

If you are still not satisfied with the decision of your employer, you may want to think about other ways to address your issues with your employer. 

You may be required to use mediation or make a petition to an employment tribunal according to the circumstances. 

Mediation using 

As a way to fix the problem, you or your boss might want to seek mediation. Mediation is voluntary and confidential altogether. It requires an unbiased, objective individual assisting you and your employer to find a compromise that everyone will agree. The mediator may often come from inside your company or your employer may choose to consider getting an outside mediator in. 

External mediation services are not free, but it would normally be your employer who pays if both you and your employer want to use mediation. 

Filing claims before an employment tribunal 

You may want to consider filing an employment tribunal claim if you have done all to sort out your issues at work and got nowhere. 

Before filing a petition to an employment tribunal, you do not have to present a formal grievance. However, unless you have a valid reason, if you do not first raise a claim, the tribunal will reduce the amount of any compensation they grant you.

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