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Grievances - Case studies

Mrs H contacted Which? Legal for advice on a grievance meeting that she was about to attend.

She told our lawyers that she was due to attend a grievance meeting and did not have anyone at work that could attend it with her. She wanted to know whether she could bring a friend along.

Our lawyer advised that she would only be able to invite a friend if her contract of employment gave her a contractual entitlement to do this, which would normally be very unlikely.

Legal points

The only right that you do have is to take a work colleague or union representative. However, there’s no harm in asking if you can bring a friend or relative along from outside the workplace. The employer has the discretion whether or not to permit this.

A Which? Legal member called our employment lawyers for advice on his working conditions.

He told our lawyers that he worked nights watching VDU security screens and had worked on his own for the last two years.

The member wanted to know if by forcing him to work alone, his employer was in breach of Health and Safety rules. He told our team that he worked nine and a half hour shifts without a break. His employer had said that he would be considered for a pay rise, but he was yet to receive one. He asked our team what could he do, because he was concerned that if he complained, he would be dismissed.

Our lawyers advised him that the type of work that he did wouldn’t prevent him from being required to work alone. They also advised him that legally he was required to have a minimum of 20 minutes rest for every six hours worked, but there was also the possibility of an employer giving ‘compensatory rest’ at some other time if continuous presence was required. Our lawyer explained that the compensatory rest could simply be added on to the end of his shift.   

With regard to the pay rise, our lawyer advised that as no actual commitment had been given, his employer was not in breach of employment law.

Legal points

If you feel that you've been treated unfairly at work, you can raise a grievance. If dismissed for doing so, this is likely to be viewed as unfair dismissal, for which you can make a claim to an employment tribunal.  

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