How To Be Fair In A Grievance Meeting


This article explodes the most common mistake around chairing a grievance meeting and takes you through the steps of how to structure the meeting to ensure fairness AND the likelihood of a good end result for all concerned.


  • The common mistake that managers make
  • The skills you will need
  • The “How To” checklist
  • Other useful resources


…….is approaching a grievance hearing in the same way as a disciplinary.

“A grievance hearing is not the same as a disciplinary hearing, and is an occasion when discussion and dialogue may lead to an amicable solution.” (ACAS) If you find yourself responsible for chairing a formal, or even informal, grievance meeting you should follow your own organisation’s procedure and HR advice. In the absence of a procedure then look to  for their code of practice. Either way there is a clear format to follow for these meetings, which should be adhered to, so follow procedure or refer to the ACAS code.


  • Active listening
  • Open and probing questions
  •  Never make assumptions before you start
  • Never get defensive of others (or yourself)

 The How To Checklist

1              Set the scene: make introductions, have a note taker, organise an interpreter if                           necessary, make sure the witness knows their role etc

2              Invite the employee to re-state their grievance

3              Make allowances for any reasonable letting off steam

4              Don’t get defensive: never defend the alleged perpetrator or the organisation

5              Probe for examples and first hand evidence.

(This might take some doing if the employee is emotional.)

6              Clarify the impact, if any, the behaviour has had

7              Look for the root cause

8              Consider adjourning for more investigation

9              Sum up the main points

(To show you have both listened and understood. It also pays to summarise at key points to allow the employee to hear back what they have just said.)

10           Put care into resolving grievances.

(They are not normally issues calling for snap decisions.)

11           Ask for their ideas for a solution.

(If they are unrealistic probe further and explain potential outcomes.)

12           Tell the employee when they might reasonably expect a response

13           Take time to decide what to do

Download the ebooklet here and share; it’s free so why not?

This is just one in a series of regular ebooklets that we can deliver straight to your inbox. Just sign up (email address only…we don’t  ask for all your details) at the bottom on the right.

The next one is “Changing Difficult Behaviour By Looking At The Root Cause” …. now that would be worth sharing.



In our video How To Chair A Grievance Meeting  you can see the manager’s initial thoughts and the advice he gets from HR before chairing the meeting fairly and effectively.

In our e-learning module The Grievance Meeting we combine video along with some interactive exercises to help you get results.

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