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What is a personal grievance?

Updated: Apr 18, 2023

If you're experiencing workplace stress, bullying or have been treated unfairly, you might be considering raising a personal grievance. So let's break what exactly a personal grievance is.

What is a personal grievance?

A personal grievance is a formal complaint made by an employee against an employer. It can be about any aspect of the employment relationship, such as unfair treatment, harassment, discrimination, or unjustified dismissal.

What are some examples of grievances?

There's many reasons that an employee might need to raise a grievance. Some of these might include being:

  • demoted or having your wages deducted without your agreement;

  • bullied by a manager or co-worker;

  • given a warning without any good process; or

  • dismissed unfairly

"People don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad bosses" - Unknown

What is the most common type of grievance filed?

The most common type of grievance filed is one related to disciplinary action taken by an employer. This may include disputes over the fairness of the disciplinary process, the severity of the penalty imposed, or the evidence used to support the disciplinary action.

What happens with a personal grievance?

When a personal grievance is raised, the employer should investigate the matter and respond in writing. If the matter cannot be resolved through mediation or other means, the employee may be able to take the matter to the Employment Relations Authority for resolution.

Is a grievance confidential?

A grievance is generally treated as a confidential matter, and the details of the complaint should not be shared with anyone who is not directly involved in the process. However, there may be exceptions where it is necessary to share certain information, such as in the Employment Relations Authority (ERA).

Can a grievance be ignored?

Technically, an employer can choose to ignore a grievance. However, doing so can lead to a breakdown in the employment relationship if it is still ongoing, and may be considered to show a lack of good faith. It is generally in the best interests of both parties to address grievances in a timely and constructive manner.

Can I lose my job for raising a grievance?

It is illegal for an employer to terminate an employee's employment or treat them unfairly just because they have raised a grievance. However, unfortunately this doesn't mean that it won't affect the employment relationship.

Is it worth it to file a grievance?

Yes, especially if you have already tried and your employer won't resolve the issue. No one should have to out up with being treated unfairly in the workplace.

How are the possible outcomes of a personal grievance?

There are four main possible remedies for a personal grievance:

  • reinstatement if you have been terminated;

  • compensation for hurt and humiliation;

  • compensation for lost wages; and

  • contribution to your legal costs

If the grievance is settled informally or through mediation, your outcome depends on what you and your employer can agree on. If the ERA makes the decision, then normally they will weigh up the seriousness of the issues and how deeply they have affected you.


If you're experiencing employment issues and you're considering raising a grievance, call us now for a free chat about what this might look like and how we can help you.


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