Complaint about a problem at work – grievance letter checklist

This advice applies to England. See advice for See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Scotland, See advice for Wales

The way you present your grievance letter can help to get a problem sorted out more quickly.

This page gives some basic rules for writing a grievance letter and a checklist to make sure that your letter has all the relevant information.

Basic rules

  • keep your letter to the point. You need to give enough detail for your employer to be able to investigate your complaint properly. Going off the point can be confusing and won’t help your case

  • keep to the facts. Don’t make allegations or accusations you cannot prove

  • never use abusive or offensive language. You are much less likely to achieve your aim if you annoy or anger the person reading your letter

  • explain how you felt about the behaviour you are complaining about but don't use emotive language.

What to put in your grievance letter

  • your name, address and contact number

  • your employer’s name and address

  • make sure the letter is addressed to the right person. Your employer’s grievance procedure should set out the person who deals with grievances. If not, send it to your manager. If the complaint is about your manager, send it to their manager. If your employer has an HR department, it may be a good idea to send them a copy of your letter

  • clearly set out the key facts of your complaint. Say what happened and try to include the date and time of incidents, where they took place, the names of the people involved and the names of any witnesses

  • if your complaint is that you haven’t been paid, or not paid enough, set out how much you think your employer owes you

  • if your complaint is about a series of events, try to set them out in the order in which they took place

  • if you can’t remember an exact date, but know that it happened before a certain event, just say that. For example, you could say ‘A few days before I went on leave on 14 February …’, or ‘Just before the Christmas party ….’

  • if you work for a large organisation and the person dealing with your grievance will not know the people involved, try to give their job titles or explain their role

  • set out any evidence you have to support your complaint. If you have any information to support your complaint, include it in your letter or say that you have it and can provide it if needed. For example, you may have documents showing how much you should be paid, or a statement from someone who was in the same situation as you but was treated differently

  • if you have a reasonable solution to your complaint, include this in your letter for your employer to consider. For example, you may want training, to be moved to a different office or site, or for your employer to provide certain equipment to accommodate a disability. Be reasonable, though, your employer may not have the resources to agree to what you are asking for, or may not be able to send you off for training during a busy period. Remember that you are trying to work together with your employer to resolve the issue

  • if you’ve tried to resolve the matter informally first, for example, by talking to your manager, set out what happened. If anything was agreed then, but has not resolved the situation, say why it didn’t work

  • sign and date the letter.

If you do not feel able to write a grievance letter on your own, you can get help from a CAB adviser or from your trade union if you are a member of one.

Next steps

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