Informal Grievance Guidance

This note provides guidance on dealing with grievances informally. 

Where possible grievances should be resolved informally however it is accepted that this may not be possible or appropriate in all circumstances.  Normally an employee will raise any issues with their direct line manager when they arise and in most cases it should be possible to resolve these issues locally at the time.  

Colleagues experiencing any form of bullying, discrimination or harassment can also speak in absolute confidence to one of the University's network of trained Respect Advisers. Colleagues may wish to consider reporting bullying, discrimination or harassment/sexual harassment via the online reporting form as an alternative to the grievance process. Reports submitted through this channel will be sent to the Equality and Diversity Unit who will initially review each report. Additionally, in some circumstances colleagues may wish to report potential criminal offences to the Police and the University will support individuals to do so. Where this is being considered, the University will respect the wishes of the complainant and will, if a report is made, continue to follow the grievance process (and associated timescales) subject to any advice given by the Police. If the process is paused based on Policy advice, managers should ensure appropriate measures are in place/remain in place to support those involved. Line managers should seek advice from their local HR Team in such cases.

Staff should be encouraged to raise any issues at an early stage as this give the opportunity to resolve them before they worsen and have an impact on the individual or staff morale.  Dealing with issues informally is more likely to result in a positive outcome, as once individuals are in a formal process there is a greater tendency for the situation to become more adversarial and for positions to become more entrenched.

Where an informal grievance or concern is raised with a manager they should endeavour to deal with the issue promptly.  Normally this would involve meeting with the individual to listen and understand their concerns and discuss potential resolutions.  It may also be necessary to carry out further informal investigation before coming to a conclusion and proposing a resolution.  At times it may be helpful to involve Human Resources and the individual’s representative in the discussions to identify a resolution.  Once an outcome is reached this should be discussed with the individual and then summarised briefly in writing.  It may not always be possible to achieve the desired resolution identified by the individual raising the issue.  If this is the case this should be fed back and the alternative outcome explained. 

For further advice on guidance on dealing with informal grievances contact your local HR team.