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Dealing with disputes at work

If you’re experiencing difficulties at work with your colleagues or manager, or you have lost your job and feel that you were treated unfairly, it’s important that you know the right procedure to follow.

How can you resolve your complaint informally?

If you have a problem at work, it’s always best to try to resolve it informally first, before going through a formal process such as raising a grievance.

You could try to resolve it informally by, for example, having a meeting with your manager to chat about your concerns and see if they can make any suggestions that might help.

If you aren’t happy with the outcome of this, you can raise a formal grievance.

How do I raise a grievance at work?

You should be able to find out how to raise a grievance by consulting your contract or staff handbook, or by talking to your HR department.

Employees raising grievances and employers taking disciplinary action must follow certain codes of practice, set out by Acas (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service), a government-funded service that helps to resolve workplace disputes.

These codes are not compulsory but they are taken into account by employment tribunals which will expect you or your employer to have followed them.

The grievance procedure set out by Acas is as follows.

  1. Put your grievance in writing, setting out the nature of your complaint, and give or send this to a manager. If your complaint is about your manager, you can give it to another manager if there is one.
  2. Your employer should then arrange a meeting with you to discuss your grievance, so that you can explain the problem and suggest what you think should be done about it. You are allowed to bring someone to accompany you to the meeting, such as a colleague or a trade union representative, but you need to notify your employer in advance of the meeting who you intend to bring with you.
  3. Your employer should respond promptly to your grievance in writing, saying what action they are going to take.
  4. You can appeal against this decision if you wish to, but you need to let them know promptly after you have received the decision. You can also contact Acas and ask if they can mediate to help you and your employer resolve the issue.

Find out more about ACAS

What should I do if I’m not happy with the outcome?

If you think your employer has discriminated against you, and you have been unable to resolve this informally or formally, you can submit a claim to the employment tribunal.

Make sure you do this within three months of the event you are complaining about.

Make a claim to the employment tribunal

For more information call the Age UK Advice Line on 0800 678 1602.
We’re open 8am to 7pm, every day of the year.

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Last updated: Sep 20 2022

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