What is Grievance?

Meaning & Definition


A grievance is a formal complaint or concern raised by an employee or a group of employees within an organization regarding a perceived violation of their rights, fair treatment, terms and conditions of employment, or workplace policies. Grievances can encompass a wide range of issues, such as disputes with management, alleged discrimination or harassment, conflicts with coworkers, safety concerns, or dissatisfaction with working conditions.

Key aspects of grievances in the workplace

  • Formal Process

Grievances are typically addressed through a formal process outlined in an organization’s policies and procedures. This often involves submitting a written complaint to the appropriate authority or department within the organization.

  • Resolution

The primary goal of addressing grievances is to resolve the issue to the satisfaction of the employee while adhering to relevant labor laws and employment regulations.

  • Fair Treatment

The process for handling grievances should ensure that employees are treated fairly and that their concerns are taken seriously and objectively evaluated.

  • Confidentiality

Many organizations maintain confidentiality regarding the identity of the employee who has raised a grievance to protect them from potential retaliation.

  • Protection from Retaliation

Laws and policies often protect employees from retaliation for raising a legitimate grievance. Employers are generally not allowed to take adverse actions against employees for making good-faith complaints.

  • Multiple Levels

Some organizations have a multi-level grievance process, which means that employees can escalate their complaints if they are dissatisfied with the initial resolution at a lower level.

  • Documentation

It is common practice to document the grievance, including the details of the issue, the steps taken to address it, and the outcome.

Grievance procedures are an important component of an organization’s human resources policies and labor relations. They provide a structured and transparent way for employees to express their concerns and seek resolution to workplace issues. Properly handling grievances is crucial for maintaining a healthy work environment, promoting employee satisfaction, and ensuring compliance with labor laws and regulations.

In some cases, when a grievance cannot be resolved internally, employees may seek external assistance, such as contacting labor unions, labor boards, or employment tribunals, depending on the nature of the grievance and the jurisdiction’s legal framework.

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