How do I recognise when an employee has submitted a grievance?

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The Acas Code on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures (see question three) says that, if a problem cannot be resolved informally, an employee should submit a grievance in writing without unreasonable delay to a manager who is not the subject of the grievance. It should set out the nature of the grievance. However, you need to be careful. In a series of cases under the pre-2009 rules, the Employment Appeals Tribunal decided that grievances under the old rules did not need to be specifically identified as such to be effective, or even to come from the employee. Employers therefore found many documents treated as formal written grievances by Employment Tribunals, even though it was not immediately apparent that they were. For instance, it decided in various cases: • The word ‘grievance’ did not have to be used in a document. • A resignation letter setting out problems could be considered a grievance. • An employee did not have to follow the grievance procedure their employer had establis

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