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What is a grievance letter


Mon 8 July, 2019

Man reading letter

The grievance letter

There are many different ways in which we now communicate in writing, which means you would be forgiven for thinking that writing a letter is a thing of the past.

The fact is fewer and fewer people now write letters, but for an employee who has genuine cause for complaint, it is still a good way in which they can raise a formal grievance (1)

A letter, as a written form of communication, remains perhaps the best way to express your sentiments, either good or bad.

The sending of a letter made headlines recently when it was reported that US president Donald Trump sent a personal note to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. (2)

Described as a ‘beautiful letter’ not much is known about the content of the correspondence, but for an employee who finds it necessary to write a letter in order to raise a formal grievance, the content is bound to be unpleasant.

The idea of writing a grievance letter may seem time consuming, as a good letter takes time to write and often a great deal of thought.

Knowing what to say, deciding what is relevant and what is not, and ensuring it all makes sense is not always as straightforward as it seems.

There can be any number of reasons that lead an employee to raise a formal grievance. You can raise a grievance with your employer when you have concerns about any aspect of your working life.

ACAS state that grievances are: concerns, problems or complaints raised by a staff member with management (3).The first step in raising a grievance is to write to your employer, and sending a letter is a good way to do so.

If you are the victim of bullying or discrimination or unfair treatement by management, the impact of such behaviour can be profound. There can be a lot of emotion involved in raising a grievance and there may be a temptation to try and write it all down.

It is important to keep the letter to the point. A good summary of your grounds for grievance will suffice at this stage. The grievance hearing provides the opportunity for you to present all of the information, details and evidence to support your grounds for grievance. 

A grievance hearing is a meeting that deals with any grievance raised by an employee (4)

It may seem simple, but firstly make sure the grievance letter is addressed to the correct person. Your employer’s grievance procedure should contain details of who to address a grievance to.

The letter should clearly set out your grounds for complaint and provide enough detail for your employer to understand the nature of your grievance.

When writing a grievance letter keep your emotions in check. Avoid using abusive or offensive language unless absolutely necessary, for example you are complaining about a comment directed at you that included such language, and you are repeating that language to justify why you have raised a grievance.

If possible, include key facts such as dates or approximate dates, times and locations of incidents and names of those involved and of witnesses.

It is important to keep to the facts and not to make allegations or accusations that you cannot prove. The letter will be the basis from which to work from at a grievance hearing, wild allegations that you cannot back up are likely to undermine your grievance.

Use the grievance letter to explain the impact that the behaviour or treatment that you have been subjected to has had on you.

If you have made unsuccessful attempts to try and resolve the matters you can also include the details of what you have done to try and sort out the problem.


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  1. Castle Associates [Internet] [Accessed on 1.7.19]
  2. North Korea leader [Internet] https:/ [Accessed on 1.7.19]
  3. ACAS [internet] [accessed on 1.7.19]
  4. Grievance hearing [Internet] http:/ [Accessed on 1.7.19]

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