What to do if your grievance fails
Content / trigger warning
You can appeal your grievance outcome
The first thing to know is that everyone in the UK has the right to a grievance appeal. With a workplace grievance, you can check your employee handbook, or if you don't have an employee handbook, you can refer to the Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinaries and Grievances. That is the minimum that all UK employers need to follow and that includes the ability for you to appeal a grievance and your employer having to investigate that appeal.
If your grievance appeal fails
It's not unusual for a grievance appeal to fail - if this happens to you, all hope isn't lost. The key thing that you want to focus on is your legal leverage.
Your legal leverage is maintaining your option to take the matter to the Employment Tribunal. This is important because employers typically take the risk of going to Tribunal very seriously, as it could incur high costs, time taken and potential reputational damage for the employer.
Watch out for the 3 month deadline
If you have already filed a grievance and potentially also an appeal, you are in a danger zone for losing that legal leverage, as your window to start Acas Early Conciliation is very short. You only have three months minus one day after the original incident at work to start Acas Early Conciliation. You can learn more about this deadline in our guide for deadlines and timescales for Employment Tribunal.
How Acas Early Conciliation works
You can start Acas Early Conciliation by completing a form on the Acas website. Acas will then contact you and ask you questions about what's happened and what your ideal outcome is. , Then, they approach the employer to see if they want to negotiate with you as Acas as an intermediary.
As soon as Acas confirms your Early Concliation submission, the three-month clock to to make a Tribunal claim is paused. That means that during Early Conciliation, you preserve your legal leverage - the option of filing a Tribunal claim later on. Ideally, this will increase the likelihood that the employer would take your seriously.
If Acas Early Conciliation fails
Acas Early Conciliation doesn't always end in a resolution. One or both of you might decide to opt out of the process, or you may have started negotiations but were unable to reach a resolution.
If that happens, Acas will then give you the information that you need to file an employment tribunal claim. Typically, you'll have a month after they give you that information to file the ET1 Tribunal Claim form.
How to strengthen your negotiating position
While you're negotiating with your employer, the other way that you can strengthen your position is by making sure that you have clearly articulated claims.
The employment tribunal uses very specific language for claims -- for example, "mistreatment" and "bullying" aren't legal terms, but "indirect discrimination" and "unlawful deduction of wages" are. It's important to label your specific claim, otherwise you may inadvertantly weaken your position.
Valla's free claim builder can help you identify your specific legal claim - just create a free account and go to 'My Claims' to identify your claim.