Senior Employee’s Case Study – Grievance Procedure

Q: You are regularly left out of key management meetings, which leaves you feeling "sidelined", despite a series of excuses from your employer. What steps should you take?

  • The first step is for the employee to check their contract of employment or employee handbook for a grievance procedure.
  • In the absence of a specific procedure in the contract or handbook, the employee and the employer must follow the ACAS Code of Practice, namely:-
    • The employee should write to the employer, setting out their complaints in detail, without unreasonable delay.
    • The employer must, on receipt of the letter, contact the employee to arrange a meeting to discuss the issues raised, without unreasonable delay.
    • In that letter, the employer should inform the employee that they have a right to be accompanied at the meeting, either by a colleague or a trade union representative.
    • At the meeting the employee should explain the complaints that they have, giving specific examples where possible.
    • Within a reasonable time after the meeting, the employer should provide the employee with a written note of the meeting and give a decision on the employee’s complaints.
    • The employer’s letter should inform the employee of their right to appeal the decision and give them a time limit within which to do so (usually 5-7 days).
    • If the employee wishes to appeal, they should notify the employer of this fact and of the grounds of appeal, without unreasonable delay.
    • The employer must then schedule a further meeting which should be held by a different manager (more senior than the first if possible) and the employee should again be given the opportunity to be accompanied by a colleague or a trade union representative.
    • Within a reasonable time after the meeting, the employer should write to the employee and inform them of their final decision with regard to the appeal.
    • The employee has no further right of appeal.

Failure by either party to follow at least the procedure set out above, can result in an increase or a decrease in any compensation awarded, depending upon which party failed to follow the procedure, of up to 25%.

This will be the end of the matter, unless the employee feels that the treatment of them has been sufficiently serious for them to resign from their employment.

If they decide to do this, they may potentially have a claim for unfair constructive dismissal on the grounds that the employment relationship is no longer able to continue due to the conduct of the employer. For more information on this, please see Unfair Dismissal.