8.4.2 Individual grievance procedure for all University support staff

Formal procedure

Where an employee believes that it is either not appropriate to deal with a matter informally, or when an attempt at informal resolution has not been successful, and he or she wishes still to pursue the matter, the procedure set out below should be used.

Employee representation

At each stage of the grievance procedure the employee has the right to be accompanied at any meeting by a union representative, or by an accredited elected representative or other colleague of his or her choice from within the University.

When arrangements for a meeting are being made it will be for the employee to arrange for the representative or person accompanying him or her to attend. If the employee's representative is unavailable at the proposed time the meeting may be postponed, normally for no more than five working days, in order to facilitate his or her attendance.

The member of staff should also give advance notice to the person chairing the meeting of the name of any person accompanying him or her.

Record keeping

Written records, which will be agreed with and made available to the employee, will be kept at each stage of the formal procedure. Employees should note that, when a grievance is formally raised, it is not possible for documents and complaints to be kept "off the record"; those complained about are entitled to know the details of the complaint and to respond to it.


The timescales set out in the formal procedure are indicative of what is required for a complaint to receive an appropriately prompt response. Where it becomes apparent that additional time is required this should be discussed with the employee concerned. Employees should note that, where an aggrieved employee has chosen not to follow the informal procedure, it will be more likely that additional time will be required to manage the formal stages.

The departmental stage

The objective of the departmental stage of the formal grievance procedure is to deal with a complaint locally and promptly to ensure, after the complaint has been clearly set out, and carefully and impartially considered, that, whenever possible, a final response is made which resolves the matter as set out in the introduction to the individual grievance procedure.

Bringing a formal grievance

The employee must set out his or her signed grievance in writing to the departmental administrator or equivalent ("the administrator").

Where the administrator has already been informally involved in addressing the matters forming the grievance, and the employee concerned so wishes, the administrator may appoint a nominee to undertake the following steps (that will otherwise be undertaken by the administrator). Where the complaint is against the administrator the head of department or equivalent (or, where he or she is not available or has already been involved, another senior member of staff in the department) will nominate an impartial alternative to take on the administrator's role in respect of progressing the grievance.

Preliminary meeting with the administrator

The administrator will invite the employee to a meeting at which the employee will, where this is not already clear, be invited to explain the basis for his or her grievance in order that the administrator can inform the investigation that will then be undertaken. The administrator will, where necessary, offer to arrange assistance for the employee with the written presentation of his or her grievance.

Once informed in writing of the basis of the employee's grievance the administrator will request a written response from any other party he or she considers appropriate. Written responses should normally be returned to the administrator within five working days of receipt of his or her request.

Departmental meeting

Once the responses to the grievance have been received the administrator will arrange a meeting to hear the grievance, which will be chaired by the head of department or equivalent or, where he or she is not available or has already been involved, by another senior member of staff in the department. Departmental meetings will normally be convened with five days' notice to the parties concerned.

  • The head of department or equivalent, or his or her nominee, will be advised by Personnel Services as to the procedure to be followed in dealing with the employee's appeal. Personnel Services will, in appropriate cases, on request, provide an officer to advise the head of department or equivalent and to make a formal record of the meeting.
  • The head of department or equivalent, or his or her nominee, may, if he or she thinks it appropriate to do so, consider alternatives to either upholding or not upholding the grievance and discuss these with the parties during the course of drawing up his or her report.
  • The head of department or equivalent, or his or her nominee will write to the parties, normally within five working days of the meeting, setting out his or her findings and resolving the grievance as described in the introduction to the individual grievance procedure.

The head of department or equivalent's report (or the report of his or her nominee) will also inform the complainant of the means by which he or she may progress a grievance to the final university stage should he or she remain dissatisfied with the decision reached.

The final university appeal stage

It is expected that the great majority of grievances will be satisfactorily resolved within the department concerned. Where, exceptionally, a grievance cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of the complainant within his or her department, a final university appeal stage may be invoked.

If a grievance appeal relates to an appeal of a member of staff who has been dismissed as a consequence of disciplinary action, it should be heard under the arrangements in Statute XIV. All other grievance appeals should be heard as follows.

Notification procedure

Appeals against the outcome of a grievance must be notified in writing to the Director of Human Resources within 10 working days of written confirmation being received. The appellant should specify in writing their grounds for appeal, and the reasons why they are dissatisfied with the outcome at department or divisional level.

The Director of Human Resources will advise the Head of Department or Division as appropriate and make arrangements for the servicing of the appeal by an HR Business Partner (HRBP).

Appeal panel constitution

Appeals notified in respect of a grievance will be heard by a panel consisting of three members of staff, at grade 8 or above, (the panel chair will be more senior than the person who made the decision that is subject to appeal). They will have a balance of role types and one, if appropriate, may have experience relevant to the case being heard. The panel members will be eligible for membership of Congregation, external to the department concerned, and nominated by the Director of Human Resources. One will be asked to act as chair.

Appeal hearing

The appeal panel should, wherever possible, meet within one month to hear the case and all parties concerned should receive adequate notice, normally 5 days, of the hearing.

In some cases it may be appropriate for the appeal panel to gather information, via the HRBP, prior to the hearing. The employee should provide copies of any information which they consider relevant to their appeal, including any witness statements, according to the timescale set out by the HRBP. The department or division will normally respond within 10 working days to the grounds for appeal, setting out the steps taken to resolve or determine the matter and the rationale for the decision(s) with which the employee is dissatisfied.  The HRBP will ensure that all those involved receive any new material as soon as is practicable. 

Normally, witnesses will be invited to attend the hearing and it will be at the discretion of the appeal panel chair whether any witness needs to attend to clarify anything from their witness statement. The employee may invite a union representative or a full time officer of the employee's trade union (if he or she is a member) or a colleague, from within the University, to accompany them to the appeal hearing. The employee should advise the HRBP servicing the appeal hearing of the person who will accompany them, in good time before the hearing. The employee’s manager may also be accompanied by a colleague from within the University.

The appeal panel will review the grounds of appeal to decide whether the findings and/or outcome of the initial decision were appropriate and proportionate, and whether it was conducted through an appropriate procedure.


The chairman of the panel may, if s/he thinks it appropriate to do so, consider alternatives to either upholding or not upholding the grievance and discuss these with the parties during the course of drawing up his or her report.

The outcome of the appeal will be notified in writing to the department or the division concerned and to the appellant normally within 10 working days of the hearing.

The decision of the appeal panel is final and there shall be no further appeal within the University.