At some point during your career, you may find yourself in a position where you need to raise a grievance. There is a statutory process for you and your employer to follow should this need arise.

You can submit a grievance about any aspect of your employment. Problems you might wish to raise could involve:

   your terms of employment or changes to these terms

   your pay and working conditions

   disagreements which may arise with co-workers

   discrimination in any form

   bullying and harassment.

There are key steps in raising a grievance.

Let your employer know the nature of the grievance

If at all possible, try and speak to your employer informally in the first instance. You may find this approach enables him or her to address the issue and there is no further need to pursue it formally. However, if you do not feel able to try this – or this approach is not successful – then you should submit a formal written grievance, setting out the nature of your concern.

Your employer should hold a meeting with you to discuss your grievance

Once your employer has received your written grievance, he or she should arrange to hold a formal meeting with you. This should be done within a reasonable time period with all parties making every effort to attend. During the meeting you should be allowed to expand on your grievance and how you think it could be resolved.

After the meeting, your employer may feel the need to investigate further into your grievance before being in a position to respond to you. Any investigation should be carried out in a timely manner.

You are allowed to be accompanied to the meeting

You have a statutory right to be accompanied by a work colleague (or a Trade Union representative, if you are a member of one) at a grievance meeting.

Your employer should inform you in writing of their decision and what action they intend to take to resolve the grievance

After the meeting, and any investigation that may be required, your employer should write to you to inform you of their decision. There should not be an unreasonable delay between the holding of the meeting and the communication of the decision.

Within the written communication should be details of any action your employer intends to take to resolve the grievance. It should also state your right of appeal against the decision, to whom to make the appeal, and within what timeframe.

You should be allowed the right of appeal against the decision

If you feel your grievance has not been resolved to your satisfaction, you have the right of appeal against the decision. Your appeal should be submitted in writing, stating the grounds for your appeal. Ideally, if the practice has a large enough management structure, the appeal should be dealt with impartially by a manager who has not previously been involved in the issue and a meeting should be arranged within a reasonable timeframe.

As before, you have the right to be accompanied to the appeal meeting. After the appeal meeting, the employer should write to you to inform you of their decision. There is no further right of appeal.

Public Interest Disclosure Act (Whistle Blowing)

The Grievance Procedure provides the opportunity for employees to raise any grievance, including Whistle Blowing, as defined in the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, to an external body. The Act gives protection to employees, self-employed people working under a contract, agency workers, home workers and others.

A qualifying disclosure is ‘any disclosure of information which, in the reasonable belief of the worker making thedisclosure’ shows at least one ‘relevant failure.

The failures may be any of the following:

   a criminal offence has been, is being, or is likely to be committed

   a person has failed, is failing or is likely to fail to comply with any legal obligation

   a miscarriage of justice has happened, is happening or is likely to happen

   the health and safety of any individual has been, is being or is likely to be damaged

   damage to the environment has occurred, is occurring or is likely to occur

   information showing any of the above has been, is being or is likely to be deliberately concealed.

When making a disclosure, the worker, in the first instance, must raise the concern using the Company Grievance Procedure. Thereafter, the worker may take the grievance to the regulatory body, a legal adviser, or a Government Minister.

For further information or advice, call the BVNA Industrial Relations Service on 01822 870270.

Members of the BVNA can contact the IRS Helpline for free advice and support. Call 01822 870270 or e-mail


Nicky Ackerley BA(Hons)

Nicky Ackerley HR Support is owned by Nicky Ackerley who has a BA (Hons) Busi ness Studies Degree, is a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and who has been a practising HR manager for over 20 years. HR Support Consultancy has provided the BVNA's Industrial Relations Service since it began in 2002.

Veterinary Nursing Journal • VOL 25 • No9 • September 2010 •