Employee complaints and grievances

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Employee complaints, or ‘grievances’, should be taken seriously and handled respectfully. That doesn’t mean every complaint is valid. However, the lawfulness of your handling of an employee grievance is judged right from the moment that complaint is made. So always start by assuming a complaint is genuine until you’ve properly investigated and the contrary is proven.

At a basic level, the correct procedure for handling an employee complaint is set out in the Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures. However, the Code is not comprehensive. To ensure you have a clear and robust approach to employee complaints, we strongly recommend that you adopt a grievance procedure within your business. Our customisable template and the guidance below will set you on the right track.

There are many things that employees might complain about, but one deserves special mention because it can be particularly challenging to manage well: discrimination. If an employee complains of unlawful discrimination at work, be especially careful how you handle this. Even if the alleged discrimination is by another member of staff with no management responsibility, your business could be found liable for that member of staff’s discriminatory conduct.

We recommend using our guides as your starting point and to set helpful context for the way in which the templates and other documents can be used. If you’re ever unsure about how to use any of our materials, just get in touch on the contact details below.


The content on elXtr has been prepared by LHS Solicitors. It’s intended as guidance only and not to be regarded as a substitute for consultation with one of our solicitors, since every case will ultimately turn on its own particular facts and circumstances. We recommend that you use our materials as your starting point and be aware that you sometimes have to follow a set procedure before taking any action, especially in an employment context. If you are in any doubt, we’d suggest that you get in touch with us and we’ll talk you through your options on how to get the right legal advice.