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There may be occasions when the employee experiences difficulties in the workplace. This can be for a variety of reasons, for example, insufficient training, bullying or an unreasonable workload, which can result in a deterioration of health, stress and anxiety problems, long term absence or even a claim against the employer.

Problems in the workplace can quickly escalate and so it is important that both the employee and employer act at an early stage. Many problems can be resolved amicably by simply raising the problem informally. However, where this is unsuccessful or no longer an option, a complaint should be raised in accordance with a written Grievance Procedure.

The employee should write a letter to the appropriate person identified in the Grievance Procedure and clearly outline all issues. The employee will then be invited to attend a grievance meeting and can be accompanied by a work colleague or a trade union representative.

Although the meeting can be a daunting prospect, it is an opportunity for the employee to discuss the issues and to provide further information if appropriate. It is important that the employer has all of the relevant information before making a decision. Further investigations may need to be undertaken by the employer.

Once the investigation has concluded, the employer will decide whether it believes that there is any merit in the grievance. If there is, appropriate action will be taken. If the grievance is not upheld, the employee may challenge the decision by writing a letter of appeal and submitting it within the timeframe provided by the employer.

The employee will be invited to attend an appeal meeting, again, with the right to be accompanied by a work colleague or a trade union representative. The employer will reflect on the points raised, undertake further investigations where necessary and confirm the decision in writing. There is no further right of appeal. However, there may be grounds for an employee to formally issue a claim in respect of employment rights. There is a strict timeframe for when this should be done and the employee should seek legal advice as soon as possible.

The grievance process must be conducted in a fair and reasonable way. The grievance and appeal meetings should be conducted by a different representative of the employer with the appropriate level of seniority, particularly to ensure impartiality.

This information is intended to provide a general and generic overview only and is not intended to represent comprehensive legal advice, procedures and policies may also vary. This information should not be relied upon without first obtaining detailed legal advice.