How to Manage an Employee Grievance

As experts in HR advice and guidance, we receive a lot of queries from managers regarding employee grievances and how to manage these appropriately. Grievances are essentially a situation where an employee feels that they have been mistreated. A grievance often occurs between two staff members, or it could be against company policies, such as working conditions. Businesses need to take any grievance seriously and document the entire process. 

If you are unsure how to deal with a grievance, our step-by-step guide should help inform you.

  1. Mediation

A grievance can quite often be managed through mediation. For instance, if an employee has made a remark that another employee is unhappy about it, it may be that the situation could be resolved informally. However, if it is a serious situation, for instance, if it involves bullying or harassment, this step may not be sufficient in dealing with it.

2. Grievance Meeting

If the situation cannot be resolved informally, you should hold a meeting with the individual who has raised the grievance. It will allow you to get some more information and discuss how the employee would like to take the situation further. You should advise them of their right to be accompanied by a representative at the meeting. 

Example of Grievance:

Lucy feels she is being excluded by her manager, who is not inviting her to the weekly meetings with other team members. They have also been out for lunch, and she has been left out of this too. She has reached a point where she wants to raise a grievance about her manager’s behaviour. However, she does not wish for mediation as the situation has been going on too long.

3. Investigation

It is vital that you don’t just take sides when dealing with a grievance; you should only ever judge the situation by the facts. Grievances can often come down to hearsay, so getting all the information before you move forward is essential. For instance, if an employee has raised a grievance, find out if there is any written evidence of the exchange or witnesses who may have overheard. 

Examples of Evidence:

Asking team members if Lucy has attended weekly meetings and lunches. Has there been any discussion about why Lucy has been missing from these? Has anyone raised concerns

4. Disciplinary Meeting

If an employee has raised a grievance against another employee, and evidence supports it, the next stage would be a disciplinary meeting to discuss the situation with the other party involved. You should also inform them that they can be accompanied to the meeting.

Example of Disciplinary Meeting:

At this stage, you would speak to the manager and find out why Lucy has been excluded and provide any evidence you have for this from your investigation. Consider it from the side of the manager too

5. Decision

The next stage is the final decision you have reached following the investigation and the meetings. Then, you should arrange another meeting with the instigator of the grievance to discuss the decision you have reached and the other party.

Example of Decision:

As there is overwhelming evidence to suggest that Lucy has been deliberately excluded, which is a form of bullying, you feel there is no choice but to dismiss the manager. You cannot employ someone that is exhibiting this behaviour.

6. Appeal

There is the right to appeal this decision. In this case, another meeting should be held, and if possible, it should be undertaken by someone not involved in the rest of the meeting.

If you would like to discuss an employee grievance or have any other issue regarding HR support for business, you can contact Melanie of Blue Tree HR Solutions on 01787 695084 or by emailing her at

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