Grievance and disciplinary

Grievance and disciplinary


How Prospect can help

An important role played by trade union representatives and full-time officials is to advise, support and represent Prospect members in the workplace. 

Many employers acknowledge the role of trade unions in managing disputes between individual members and their managers or work colleagues. The experience of Prospect representatives highlight the value they bring to the workplace, particularly when members are faced with difficult or sensitive situations, such as disciplinary or grievance matters. 

By dealing with such matters early on, problems can often be nipped in the bud or resolved successfully without any further action being required.

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Grievances are concerns, problems or complaints that an employee raises with their employer. There is no legally binding process that you or your employer must follow when raising or handling a grievance at work.

How to raise a grievance at work

If you have tried to resolve your grievance informally by talking to your employer without success, you should raise the matter formally. You should do this using your employer's formal procedures for grievances. If you're unsure how to find this, check:

  • the company handbook
  • human resources (HR) or personnel manual
  • HR intranet site
  • employment contract

If your employer doesn't have a formal grievance procedure, contact Prospect's member contact centre for assistance.


Your employer could start formal disciplinary action against you if they have concerns about your work, conduct or absence.

Before taking formal disciplinary action or dismissing you, your employer may try to raise the matter informally with you. However, they can go straight to their formal disciplinary or dismissal procedures.

Disciplinary procedures are a set way for an employer to deal with disciplinary issues. They should include a disciplinary hearing where you’re given a chance to explain your side of the story.

There should also be a chance to appeal any disciplinary action that your employer decides to take.

The right to be accompanied

Workers are entitled to be accompanied to formal grievance and disciplinary hearings. For example, if a member is faced with a disciplinary meeting which could lead to disciplinary action, they have the right to be accompanied. Disciplinary action could be:

  • A first or final warning
  • Suspension without pay
  • Demotion
  • Dismissal

Who can accompany the worker?

If a worker or employee is asked to go to a disciplinary meeting they have the right to be accompanied by:

  • A colleague
  • A trade union [TU] representative; or
  • An official employed by a trade union.

Where Prospect is recognised, the employer should provide facilities for a union representative to attend an investigation meeting, even if this is not strictly covered under the Act, and this is frequently what happens in the workplace, because employers recognise the value of union involvement in the process.

In every situation involving discipline or grievance we would expect the member to be accompanied by a Prospect representative. Even at unrecognised sites, a union representative should be made available where possible to assist the member in question. If you're unsure who your local representative is or need assistance, contact Prospect's member contact centre.

“Companion” not representative

The accompanying individual is a companion, rather than a representative.  This means that the companion may address the hearing and confer with the individual during the hearing.  He/she can put and sum up the worker’s case and may respond on their behalf to any view expressed at the hearing, but he/she may not answer questions on the worker’s behalf.

In situations where Prospect has recognition, and/or good relationships generally with employers, we would expect the employer to acknowledge the involvement of Prospect by not restricting the representative to a companion-type role.


There are strict time limits for making claims to an employment tribunal. For most types of claim, including unfair dismissal or discrimination, the process must be started within three months of the dismissal or incident occurring.  So it is extremely important that members seek advice as soon as possible.

Legal advice and assistance is offered at the union's discretion and is decided on the facts and merits of each case. See our legal advice guide for details of our services and the terms and conditions for advice.

The law is somewhat different in Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. Members in these areas should contact their negotiator or Prospect's member contact centre for more information.