A grievance can be raised in a number of different ways, and it is not always with the language of “grievance” or “complaint”. An individual could be raising a concern or simply having “a bit of a rant” round the water cooler and this would be sufficient grounds for an employer to take reasonable action to rectify the concerns raised.

It is always preferable to resolve concerns informally, but if this is not possible (or the informal process has not worked) an employee can raise a grievance formally. A parish should therefore have a grievance policy to inform the employee how they can go about raising a grievance in the proper manner. As ever, if you do not have a policy ACAS has comprehensive guidance on how to put a policy and procedure together.

Your policy should set out who an employee should raise their grievance with, their line manager or HR Manager instance, and what the letter should contain, usually:

  • What the grievance is about
  • Any evidence they can provide to support it
  • What they would like their employer to do about it.

An employer should always aim to respond in a timely manner, but where further investigation is required or the grievance could result in disciplinary action a full, fair and transparent process should be followed.

Grievance meeting

When an employee raises a formal grievance the employer should aim to hold a meeting, or hearing, without unreasonable delay (usually within 5 days of receiving the complaint). The aim of the meeting is to hear from the employee who has raised the complaint, and review the evidence that they would like to present in support of the complaint. You should ensure that you have someone present to take confidential notes of the meeting, to be circulated for agreement afterwards.

As part of the meeting you, as the employer, should allow the employee to be accompanied. You should aim to understand the concerns and feelings of the person who has raised the grievance and decide whether or not it requires further investigation.


As with disciplinary hearings, before any decisions can be made regarding the grievance, particularly in serious cases which could result in disciplinary action, a full investigation must be carried out to determine whether the facts of the case. The investigation must be carried out fairly, transparently and without judgement.

  • Investigations should seek to establish the facts of the case
  • Ideally a different person would conduct the investigation and the disciplinary process
  • Any interviews should be held without unreasonable delay
  • An investigation meeting can state whether there is a case to answer but should not be a disciplinary meeting in itself, nor should it confer any sanctions. This is the jurisdiction of the Disciplinary Hearing (please refer to the disciplinary section)

Throughout any investigation process, you should aim to keep everyone involved informed as much as is reasonably possible and whilst maintaining individual’s confidentiality.

The outcome

After the hearing and once all the evidence has been taken into consideration, the employer should decide on an outcome and communicate this with the employee as soon as possible in writing. It may be that the grievance is upheld and results in disciplinary action for another member of staff, in which case, please refer to the disciplinary section.

If it is decided that no further action is required it is best practice to speak with the employee to ensure that they understand the reasons behind this decision, to make sure they feel heard.

The right to appeal

The outcome letter should set out the employees right to appeal if they feel that the process was not handled fairly or that the outcome has not resolved the issue.
The letter should contain details of who to send their appeal to, usually a more senior manager than was involved in the initial hearing, and the timeframe in which they must submit their written appeal.