Grievance procedure – How to Handle it Step by Step

The word grievance means a real or imagined cause for complaint, especially unfair treatment.
grievance procedure provides a hierarchical structure for presenting and settling workplace disputes. There is no legally binding process that you or your employer must follow when raising or handling a grievance at work.


Sometimes grievances in the workplace arise from the management style or lack of sensitivity on a supervisor’s part. When an employee wants to make a formal complaint about something which has happened at work, he/she should raise a grievance. The first step in doing so is to write a letter to respective employer.


Types of Grievances:  Pay and Benefits, Heavy Workloads and Work Conditions

Organizations should set standards of performance and conduct that are reinforced by company rules. The main aim should be about changing or correcting people’s behavior. Grievance procedures are used for considering problems or concerns that employees want to raise with their employers.


Grievance procedures: Five-steps for employers

1.    Informal action: In case of grievance which is relatively minor, the employer should have a discussion with the employee to see if it can be resolved informally.

2.    Investigation: Right after receiving a grievance, the employer should carry out an investigation. Then proceed with a relatively straightforward fact-finding exercise.

3.    Grievance meeting: After the investigation, the employer should hold a meeting with the employee so that person has an opportunity to explain the complaint. The employee should be asked how he or she thinks the grievance should be resolved and what outcome he or she is seeking.

4.    Decision: Based on evidence, the employer will need to decide whether to uphold or reject the grievance. The decision should be communicated to the employee, in writing at the soonest and keep records.

5.    Appeal: If the grievance has been rejected or partially rejected, the employer should be prepared for an appeal. This should be dealt with by an impartial committee and where possible, a more senior personnel than the person who dealt with the grievance.


There are universal 2 golden rules of employee grievances handling which are as follows:
  • A very helpful question to ask an employee raising  a grievance is “what outcome do you want from this grievance?” This tends to focus the employee’s mind on the solution he or she is looking for rather than just the problem.
  • Check that there is an up to date procedure in place, published in the handbook, that supports the resolution of grievance issues in your workplace.


Steps for a fair grievance hearing:

1. Decide whether or not the grievance can be resolved informally or formally

2. Comply with both the terms of organization’s grievance procedures

3. Appoint an appropriate manager to deal with the employee’s grievance.

4. Carry out a full investigation into the grievance and obtain all relevant evidence.

5. Invite the employee to the grievance meeting and remind them of their statutory right

6. Ensure that someone who is not involved in the case is appointed to take notes on the proceedings.

7. Allow the employee to explain the details of their grievance and how to resolve.

8. Adjourn the grievance meeting to give proper consideration to all the evidence before making a decision.

9. Once the decision whether or not to uphold the grievance is made, inform the employee in writing with details of why that decision was reached.

10. Notify the employee of their right to appeal against the outcome of the grievance procedure.


Grievance procedure is very important to save a company/organization from serious consequences which are given below:
  • A fair and objective Grievance Procedure provides employees with a systematic and legitimate avenue to raise their grievances; it also creates a safe working environment where employees can seek redress in a specified manner, without fear of repercussions. It can also help to uncover any unacceptable or unlawful practices within the organization.
  • Having proper Grievance Procedure will also help mitigate the impact of grievances on employee morale and productivity, maintain workplace harmony and safeguard companies’ image and brand name.
  • It also addresses complaints by employees, suppliers, customers, and/or competitors. Knowing that formal procedures are available it helps management discover and correct problems within an operation before they cause serious trouble. It can provide a vehicle through which employees can communicate their concerns to upper management.


Speaking broadly, grievance is a sort of dissatisfaction that adversely affects organizational relations and productivity. So, urgency to address grievance should be given highest priority.


Read also: Grievance Letter – How to Write and Respond to it


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1 thought on “Grievance procedure – How to Handle it Step by Step”

  1. The 5 steps Grievance Procedure mentioned above makes so much sense! The Investigation and Grievance Meeting make so much sense. Most companies do not follow these steps properly.

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