UCL Human Resources


UCL Staff Grievance Policy - Appendix A - Formal Grievance Procedure

1.1. This appendix outlines the procedure for managing a formal grievance complaint.

1.2. Accountability for responding to formal grievances lies with the Head of Department, or other appropriate senior manager. Heads of Department should seek advice from HR at all stages of the formal process.


1.3. A timeframe over which the procedure should run is set out below. This timeframe is indicative and in certain circumstances it may be necessary to extend the time limits outlined. Where it is not possible for one party to meet the particular time limit they are responsible for advising the other party/ies of a revised estimated timeframe.

Timeframes should be adjusted on a pro-rata basis for employees that are not full-time.



Employee raises formal grievance in writing to Head of Department (HoD).

As soon as possible and normally within 5 working days of informal grievance outcome.

Written acknowledgement of Grievance by HoD. Copy provided to Director of Employee Relations and Policy.

As soon as possible and normally within 5 working days of receipt of formal grievance

Respondent notified of Grievance in writing by HoD and provided with a copy of the grievance and any supporting papers. Date set for response to any allegations (usually within five working days or within a period specified by the Director of Employee Relations and Policy, depending on the nature of the complaint).

As soon as possible and normally within 5 working days of receipt of formal grievance

Hearing established (see paras 2.5 – 2.11 of this appendix). Complainant and respondent notified of hearing date.

Date advised within 10 working days of receipt of formal grievance

Complainant and respondent write to HR to request witnesses to be called to hearing (see para. 2.8). Complainant and respondent organise their own witnesses' statements.

As soon as possible and no later than 8 working days before the date of the hearing

All written submissions to HR.

As soon as possible but no later than 7 working days before the hearing or in line with deadline agreed by all parties

All parties involved in the hearing to be provided copies of all written submissions received by the Hearing panel

No later than 5 working days before the date of the hearing or in line with deadline agreed by all parties



Panel decision to HoD, copied to Director of Employee Relations and Policy.


HoD notifies complainant of outcome of grievance hearing in writing and informs them of right to appeal.

Within 5 working days of the decision being made


2.1. If an employee has not been able to resolve a grievance informally, s/he may raise a grievance formally in writing to the Head of Department1 using the template form at Appendix A within five working days of the outcome of the informal grievance, or unsuccessful conclusion of the mediation process. Where the outcome requires a review period to test if the matter is resolved (e.g. where complaints concern harassment or bullying behaviour, or training is required), a review meeting should be convened and this fact will be stated in the letter. If the matter is not resolved and the employee wishes to escalate their grievance they should do so within five working days of the review meeting.  This written statement should clearly set out the outstanding matter of concern focusing on the facts of the case, with references (where possible) to dates, times and places and the desired outcome or remedy sought. The statement should also outline what attempts have been taken to resolve the issue and why they have proved unsuccessful. If relevant the names of any witness(es) to the incident(s) should also be included. Witnesses can request anonymity and this may be granted if appropriate, but this is not encouraged in the interests of openness and 'natural justice'.

2.2. The Head of Department1 should provide written acknowledgement to the complainant within five working days of receipt of the formal grievance and provide a copy to HR. Respondent(s) should also be advised in writing by being provided with a copy of the Grievance and any supporting papers within five working days of receipt of the formal grievance. 

2.3. Depending on the circumstances, it may be necessary for an investigation to be undertaken before a formal Grievance Hearing is arranged and this will normally include discussing details of the complaint with other employees and the respondent. This may simply be the line manager investigating the facts of the case or it may require a different manager to be appointed to ascertain the facts. The Head of Department will determine who will investigate.

A draft template for an Investigation Report is attached to this Appendix.

2.4. The employee may also be asked to provide additional information about their grievance. In certain circumstances while the formal complaint is under investigation, an alternative work location and/or change of line manager for the complainant will be considered where requested. 

2.5. The written report will be accepted as evidence. The Investigating Manager may be asked to attend the Hearing and present the details of their investigation, dependent on the complexity of the case and whether the facts are in dispute.

2.6. Employees should be as precise and explicit as possible about details of the times, dates and places that incidents took place and the names of any witnesses during the investigation.   

Establishing the Hearing

2.7. Once any preliminary investigation has been completed the grievance procedure should be conducted in line with the timescales and process outlined at para 1.3 of this Appendix.

2.8. The Head of Department1, in discussion with HR2 will appoint a trained three person panel3  who have not previously been involved in the case to hear the grievance. The panel will comprise one manager, one trade union representative and a senior member of staff who will chair the proceedings. Where it is not possible to convene a panel with this composition within a reasonable timeframe a panel of three trained staff will be convened by HR with the relevant Head of Department. If either party has objections to the panel members they should raise these with the Head of Department1 who will consider the matter and review if appropriate. If a complaint has been raised because an individual considers they are experiencing discrimination, harassment, bullying or victimisation, particular care will be given to ensuring the panel reflects a diverse profile, wherever possible.

2.9. A member of HR will support the hearing throughout the Grievance and provide professional advice. HR will also provide a note taker responsible for taking notes of the hearings. 

2.10. Before the hearing takes place the complainant and the respondents should be:

  • given in writing by HR, a minimum of ten working days advance notice of the date, time and location of the hearing;
  • at the same time advised of their rights to be accompanied at the hearing by a companion (as outlined in paragraph 4.5 of this policy). Where a chosen companion is not available on a date scheduled for a formal hearing the complainant may request a postponement but must propose a suitable alternative date which is reasonable and within five working days of the original date;
  • provided by HR, the names of any witnesses, written copies of any evidence or written submissions gathered in relation to the grievance not less than five working days in advance of the hearing or in line with a deadline agreed by both parties. 

2.11. The parties should inform HR in writing of the names of any witnesses they would like to call with brief reasons for each request at least eight working days in advance of the hearing.  Each party is responsible for the provision of any written statements or documentary evidence which has not already been provided as part of the Grievance. These should be submitted to HR at least seven working days in advance of the hearing unless agreed otherwise by both parties. Employees are advised that in order to aid the panel written submissions should be focused, relevant and sufficiently concise to ensure that the key points to be addressed are clearly identifiable.

2.12. HR will notify any requested witnesses of the date/venue of the Hearing and provide a copy of this grievance policy and procedure. The panel, through the Chair, is entitled to query the purpose of any witness being called and has the right to limit the number of witnesses called, where s/he reasonably believes there will be no additional value or insight added by their presence. Individuals required as witnesses are generally expected to attend the hearing but have the choice of not doing so if they wish. Witnesses are protected by law against victimisation should they wish to attend a hearing and support a colleague.

2.13. All information submitted to the panel prior to the hearing must be in writing, signed and dated and provided to all parties involved in the hearing. Written information not provided to the hearing within the timescales specified will not usually be admitted. 


2.14. Unless the Panel Chair decides that there are particular reasons why it would not be appropriate, both the complainant and respondent(s) should be present throughout the hearing4

2.15. The parties may be accompanied by a companion. The companion can address the hearing, put and sum up the employee's case, respond on behalf of the employee to any views expressed at the meeting and confer with the employee during the hearing. The companion does not however, have the right to answer questions on the employee's behalf, address the hearing if the employee does not wish it, or prevent the employee from explaining their case. 

2.16. The Panel Chair must ensure equal treatment of all parties and that all aspects of the Grievance are investigated. They should show the appropriate level of sensitivity to participants particularly in the investigation of complaints about discrimination, harassment, bullying or victimisation. The Panel Chair may seek further clarification of the written submissions from any parties they feel are necessary or call any person to the hearing they feel is appropriate to clarify facts. They may adjourn the hearing for further investigation at any time they think appropriate.  

2.17. After introductions, the complainant (or their companion) will have the opportunity to outline the Grievance and state how they would like it to be resolved. They may also present any witnesses. Witnesses will only be present whilst they give their evidence and for any further questions. The respondent will then have the opportunity to respond to the Grievance. Both parties will have the right to question witnesses and raise any relevant issues they wish to be considered. The Panel will be able to question all parties and will decide whether questions from either party should be directed through the Chair. A Procedure for the hearing is attached to this Appendix. 

Decision and Outcome

2.18. After the hearing, and having undertaken any further investigation necessary the Panel will decide the outcome of the Grievance, including whether all or part of the complaint was upheld, and recommend what action, if any, needs to be taken. Decisions should be made on the test of ‘balance of probabilities'5.

2.19. A report outlining the decision should be sent to the Head of Department and the Director of Employee Relations and Policy. This report should include reasons for the decision and any recommendations required for the redress of the Grievance. 

2.20. The complainant should be advised of the outcome in writing by the Head of Department within five working days of the decision being made. The notification should outline the nature of the Grievance, the decision made, reasons for the decision and actions required for the redress of the Grievance. A copy should also be sent to the respondent. The complainant will also be advised of their right to appeal against the decision.


1 Or the next management level if the Grievance is against a Head of Department or Dean/Vice-Provost. Grievances against the Provost should be referred to the Chair of Council.
2 In cases involving a member of the Human Resources Division, the procedure will be overseen by the Vice-Provost (Operations).
3 Staff participating will attend training on their roles.
4 The most likely circumstances this will be inappropriate is if an employee is making a formal complaint of harassment or bullying against the respondent. In such cases, it will not be possible for the complainant and respondent to cross-examine each other.
5 A legal standard that means that a panel can make a decision if they consider that, on the evidence presented, it is 'more probable than not' that the facts occurred. This is a lesser test than that required in criminal cases of proving evidence 'beyond reasonable doubt'

Formal Grievance Submission

This template submission form is for guidance purposes only and may be changed to reflect the individual circumstances/needs of a case. 

Please submit this form to your Head of Department, or other senior manager if your Head of Department is the subject of your grievance. This should be submitted within 5 working days of the outcome of your informal grievance.

Complainant's name


Complainant's department


Complainant's job title


Subject(s) of your grievance


Is this your line manager?

Yes / No

Detail of the concern or complaint

This should include:

  • The facts of the case, with references (where possible) to dates, times and places and brief evidence to support
  • You should keep your information succinct as this lends clarity to the matters to be addressed (max two sides of A4). Further relevant information can be sought as part of any investigation


  • Please state the names of any witnesses to incidents or concerns and what aspects of your grievance they can comment on


Informal resolution

  • Please state what steps you have taken to resolve your grievance informally, including mediation, and why the concern remains unresolved.



  • Please state what remedy or resolution you are seeking


Declaration: I confirm the above statements are true to the best of my knowledge, belief and information



Print name:

Contact details:

  • email:
  • phone:


Confidential Investigation Report

This template report format is for guidance purposes only and may be changed to reflect the individual circumstances/needs of a case.




Type of Investigation e.g.
Disciplinary/Grievance etc


Name/Post of employee(s) subject to investigation


Name of complainant 
(if appropriate)


Investigator (s)


HR contact



This may cover:

  • How did the issue come to light?
  • Have any other actions been taken prior to the investigation?


Remit Of The Investigation

This may cover:

  • What specific allegations/concerns (by bullet points) were investigated?


Investigation Process

This may cover:

  • A  brief description of method(s) used to gather information
  • A record of what interviews/statements were undertaken and documents reviewed



  • List of witnesses interviewed



This should cover:

  • A summary of findings and observations for each specific allegation/issue of concern investigated, cross-referencing any documentation where needed


This may cover:

  • For each concern/allegation investigated an overall opinion based ‘on the balance of probabilities' on whether there is evidence to support allegations made
  • Recommendations on whether further actions under the relevant employment procedure should be taken



  • These should be attached and may include witness statements, investigatory interview notes, chronology of events etc.


Signed by Investigating Officer





Procedure for Grievance Hearing

The order of the hearing should be as follows:

  • Panel Chair introduces those present;
  • The complainant* (or their companion) states the Grievance, presents any witnesses and states how they would like the issue resolved; witnesses will only be present to give their evidence and subsequent questioning
  • The Panel and then the respondent (or their chosen companion) have the opportunity to ask questions of the complainant and any witnesses and raise points about information provided by them;
  • The respondent* (or their companion) will have the opportunity to respond to the complaint and present any witnesses; witnesses will only be present to give their evidence and subsequent questioning
  • The Panel** will have the opportunity to ask questions of the respondent and any witnesses;
  • Where an investigation has taken place, the Investigating Manager's report is treated in the same way as a witness statement, noting that the complainant or respondent should have the right to ask questions of the Investigating Manager about any aspect of their report. The Investigating Manager may be called by the complainant, respondent or panel to answer questions on that report, which would usually be taken after both complainant and respondent have presented their cases and answered questions, and before other witnesses are called;
  • The respondent (or their companion) and then the complainant have the opportunity to make any final comments;
  • Panel Chair summarises the key points and advises both parties of when they might reasonably expect a decision.

* In cases of alleged harassment or bullying the panel may choose to interview the complainant and respondent when the other party is not present. Where such adjustments are put in place, additional time must be allowed to ensure full information is relayed to either party to ensure they can fully and fairly respond.  
**If the Panel Chair believes that further investigation of points raised at the meeting is needed before the meeting can proceed or a decision can be made, s/he can adjourn the meeting to allow this to take place and if required re-convene the hearing at a later date.