Trouble at Work

From time to time problems arise at any workplace. They might start because your employer is dissatisfied with you in some way, perhaps because they think you have broken some rules or your performance is not up to scratch.

On the other hand, it may be your employer who is at fault, perhaps because they are not meeting their responsibilities towards you, or there is a problem with something your employer has done or failed to do.

Such problems can often be resolved through informal discussions between you and your supervisor or manager, and this is almost always the best way of resolving differences. However, sometimes an informal approach doesn’t work or isn’t appropriate. If, for example, you were accused of having committed a very serious breach of rules and regulations, your employer might start a formal disciplinary process. And if you have not been able to resolve your complaint informally, you might choose to use your organisation's formal grievance procedure.

As an employee, you are entitled to receive a written statement of particulars of the main terms and conditions of employment within eight weeks of starting work. Such a statement must include a reference to any disciplinary rules which apply to you, the person to whom you can apply, and the way in which to proceed if you are dissatisfied with any disciplinary decisions or wish to pursue a grievance.

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) has a Code of Practice on Discipline and Grievance Procedures (PDF, 167KB). Failure to follow the code is not illegal in itself, but can be taken into account at an employment tribunal. A tribunal can raise or lower any award of compensation by 25% for an unreasonable failure by the employer or employee to follow the code, so it is sensible for all parties to do so.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.