Guide

Handling grievances

Appeals against grievance decisions

An employee has the right to appeal against your decision following the grievance hearing. You must notify them of this right when you write to give them your decision. Give them a deadline to notify you of their intention to appeal, eg within five working days.

If the employee chooses to appeal, you must try to hold the appeal hearing without unnecessary delay.

Preparing for an appeal hearing

Before you hold an appeal hearing:

  • Read through your grievance procedure to ensure that you are applying it correctly.
  • Make sure you have all relevant facts and documents, especially if you have come across new evidence since the first hearing.
  • Arrange for someone to take notes.
  • Arrange a suitable date and venue for the hearing.
  • Inform the employee in plenty of time so they can prepare their case and consult any representatives. Remind them that they have the right to be accompanied at the hearing by a colleague or trade union official.
  • If the appeal concerns new evidence it may be necessary to interview any manager and/or witnesses.
  • This may involve obtaining additional statements.

Holding an appeal hearing

The principles for holding an appeal hearing are generally the same as for the initial grievance hearing – read more on holding a grievance hearing.

However, at the appeal hearing, you should also consider:

  • the reasoning behind the appeal
  • any new evidence since the earlier decision

Ideally the person hearing the appeal shouldn't be the same person that heard the initial hearing, eg a more senior manager who has not been involved with the grievance process at all. They will be able to hear any appeal without having any assumptions.

However, where the person hearing the appeal is the same person who heard the first hearing, they should act impartially and make sure they review the original decision carefully.

You should write to the employee with your decision and the reason for it as soon as possible after the hearing. Make it clear, if this is the case, that the decision is final.

Dealing with delays

If the employee is genuinely unable to attend the appeal hearing, eg because they are ill, offer them a reasonable date and time as an alternative.

If the employee's companion cannot make the rearranged hearing, the employee must propose another date and time no more than five working days after your proposed date.

If the employee fails to attend the rearranged hearing, this stage of the procedure is complete and you can make your decision there and then. Don't forget that you will still have to tell the employee in writing of the decision.

If you cannot make the rearranged hearing, you must offer the employee an alternative at a reasonable date and time.

It is important that you notify the employee as soon as possible of any delays to the appeal process. If you fail to do so, an industrial tribunal could increase any compensation awarded against you.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

There may be circumstances where the employer and employee feel it would be beneficial to involve a third party to help in resolving the issue, through, for example, mediation. In such instances the grievance procedure may be temporarily set aside. 

Mediation is a process whereby an independent third party intervenes in a workplace dispute to assist the parties to reach a satisfactory outcome. The Labour Relations Agency (LRA) can provide a mediation service to assist the parties. You can also contact the LRA directly on Tel 028 9032 1442.