Grievance procedure: step by step

Step 2: Raising a formal grievance

The employee should check their workplace grievance policy to find out:

  • how a formal grievance should be raised

  • who they should raise it to

  • what the full grievance procedure is

If there is no workplace grievance procedure, the employee should approach their line manager first. If they do not feel comfortable doing that, they should approach someone else they feel comfortable talking to (such as another manager or someone in HR).

The employee should raise the grievance in writing. The letter or email should include:

  • what the grievance is about

  • any evidence, for example their payslip or employment contract

  • what they want their employer to do about it

It’s a good idea for the employee to be specific, for example ‘I would like to be paid on time in future’.

It’s also helpful to be realistic.


An employee believes they have not been paid their correct wages because someone in payroll made a one-off mistake. In this situation it’s usually realistic to expect the employer to investigate and amend the payment if necessary. It’s not usually realistic to expect payroll staff to be dismissed.

You can get help from Citizens Advice on:

If employers or employees do not follow a formal procedure

Not following a formal grievance procedure can affect:

A tribunal will take into account whether an employee has a genuine reason for not following a formal procedure. For example, the employee might find it difficult to attend a grievance meeting with someone accused of sexually harassing them.