The most common mistakes employers make when handling a grievance

Dealing with grievances promptly and fairly can prevent problems developing into major issues in the workplace. If grievances are not dealt with or are handled badly, the problem is likely to grow and permanently damage the trust and confidence underpinning the employment relationship.

This could potentially result in resignations and the loss of good workers, disciplinary issues, unsatisfactory performance, a wider dispute with a collective group of employees and ultimately encourage employees to bring claims for a fundamental breach of contract amounting to ‘constructive dismissal’.

Below, we discuss the most common mistakes employers make and ways to avoid them.

Not following the ACAS Code of Practice or your own internal policies and procedures

The ACAS Code of Practice provides best practice guidance to employers on how to handle grievances. It is sensible, practical advice written in plain language.

Whilst it is not legally binding, a failure to comply with the ACAS Code of Practice without good reason will often fatally undermine an employer’s defence to a tribunal claim as well as increasing an employee’s compensation by up to 25%.

Failing to follow your own grievance policy is also much more likely to lead to a judgment against the employer. Employers should familiarise themselves with the Code and its own policies, following both wherever reasonably possible.

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This information is intended as a general discussion surrounding the topics covered and is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. DWF is not responsible for any activity undertaken based on this information.


Employment law moves at a fast pace. Keeping up to date with changes and developments is a challenge for every HR professional, helps you keep ahead of the game, plan for change and provides tools for solving those workplace dilemmas.


Andrew Chamberlain

Partner - Head of Employment & Chair of the SDE

I am a Partner, the National Head of the Employment Team and the Chair of the Service Delivery Executive (SDE), which is focused on building better solutions for clients.