Preparing for a grievance meeting with your employer can be a daunting prospect. Here are some practical tips to help you:
Be prepared – Read your grievance letter prior to the meeting to remind you of all the issues and attend the meeting with a copy of your letter to refer to. If you have any documents or evidence to assist your employer with the investigation into your grievance, you should provide these in advance of the meeting or during the meeting.
Take a companion – An employee has the right to be accompanied at a grievance meeting by a work colleague or trade union representative which can put you at ease. In certain circumstances, your employer may allow someone else to accompany you to the grievance meeting, such as a family member or friend, for example, where you have a disability or English is not your first language.
Take notes – Either yourself or your companion should prepare a detailed note of the meeting so that you have an accurate record. You can then cross check your notes with those prepared by your employer in order that you can agree with them an accurate record of what was discussed.
Stay calm – Emotions can run high during grievance meetings so it is important to stay calm and act in a professional manner. If you behave in an unreasonable manner, such as raising your voice, this will reflect badly on you and could result in disciplinary action. If you are finding the meeting stressful, you can ask for a short break to gather your thoughts at any time and the meeting can be reconvened following a break.
Be cooperative – It is important to cooperate fully and act reasonably during the meeting and throughout the grievance investigation as you would in any aspect of your working life. Listen to any questions asked carefully and answer calmly and honestly. If there is anything you do not understand, you should ask for the question to be repeated or placed into its full context so you can properly answer it. It is important to ensure you provide a consistent account of what has happened to avoid any questioning of the credibility of your evidence at a later date.
Recording the meeting – You must not record the meeting without your employer’s consent. If your preference is for the meeting to be recorded rather than notes being taken during the meeting, you should make this request prior to attending the meeting and explain your reasons for this request, so that the necessary arrangements can be made, if your employer agrees.
Timescales – At the end of the meeting, ask for the likely timescales for the grievance investigation and what next steps are. Ask when you will receive the grievance outcome in writing.
Appeal – If you are not happy with the grievance outcome, you have the right to appeal. You should refer to your employer’s grievance procedure which should explain the process and state the deadline to submit your appeal following receipt of the grievance outcome. The deadline is also usually set out in the grievance outcome letter. It is important to diarise the date to ensure you submit your appeal in time so it is heard by your employer. It is important to exhaust the internal grievance process by appealing before considering bringing a claim in the Employment Tribunal. However, you must be mindful of any limitation date to bring any employment tribunal claims in case this is before you receive the appeal outcome depending on how long the appeal process takes. Most limitation dates for employment claims are short and therefore legal advice should be obtained at an early stage. The limitation date does not extend in cases where an employer has not dealt with an appeal quickly.
Settlement discussions – Settlement discussions should not be discussed during the grievance meeting. Instead, a separate “without prejudice” or “off the record” conversation/meeting can be arranged to discuss this.
If you have been treated unfairly at work and wish to raise a grievance, it is important to take legal advice at an early stage to best protect your position and understand your options going forward. Please contact Farleys’ employment law solicitors on 0845 287 0939 or submit your enquiry via our online contact form.