The two most important things you can do when you are having problems at work

  1. Save the evidence
    Keep detailed records of anything that takes place. Include dates, times, what happened and if anyone else saw it. Take photos if this helps. Save copies of paperwork or emails. Once you’ve left a job, it can be hard to get the information you need. Proving things can be difficult.
  2. Act fast
    Making a legal case can be much harder if too much time passes before you report what happened. You should seek advice as soon as you can.

Now let’s look at some of the ways you could raise an issue with your employer

Talking things through

If you’re not happy with something at work, you might be able to fix things by talking things through with your employer.

You might be unhappy with pay or working conditions. You might believe you’re being harassed, bullied or discriminated against.

Speak to your line manager and tell them your concerns. If you feel like you can’t speak to your manager, you could speak to someone else. This could be someone who is in charge, It could be someone in your HR or people services department if you have one. If you belong to a trade union, you could speak to your union rep.

Raising a formal grievance

IIf you can’t solve the issue this way, you may need to raise a formal grievance. You do this by setting out your complaint in writing.

Your employer should have a grievance procedure. This could be found in an HR handbook or company intranet. You can also ask someone in the HR or people services department for a copy. If not, you can follow the Acas Code of Practice and set out your concerns in writing to your employer. Make sure you explain what you would like them to do in response.

Bringing an employment tribunal claim

If you decide to go down the legal route, there’s usually a strict time limit to make a claim to the employment tribunal. This is normally within three months after the thing you are concerned about happened. The first step you must take is to contact Acas for early conciliation. Acas will try and reach a resolution with your former employer on your behalf. If no resolution can be reached, and you want to bring a claim, you can do so by completing an online form on GOV.UK. 

If you choose to raise a grievance, the clock is still ticking on your claim deadline. Make sure you act quickly and don’t run out of time while going through the internal grievance or other processes.

You can get free legal advice, information and support from Citizens Advice, Acas and law centres. They may also be able to refer you to other agencies to advise you on your employment rights. They can help you with your case.


If you think something illegal is happening at work, you can report this. It might be something a person or the company itself has done, is doing or you suspect will do. Wrongdoing can include suspected criminal activity, risk to health and safety, risk to the environment and even covering up the wrongdoing itself. 

Reporting any kind of wrongdoing is called ‘making a disclosure in the public interest.’ It’s often called ‘whistleblowing’ for short. 

Check if your company has a whistleblowing policy. Follow what it says to do. If your company does not have a whistleblowing policy, you can still raise your concerns with your employer. In some cases, you can raise to an external third party.

If you are a worker, the law protects you from being unfairly dismissed, discriminated against, or subjected to any negative treatment for whistleblowing. But bear in mind that to have this protection, your whistleblowing report must be about something that is relevant to the general public. If it is only relevant to you, you should think about raising a grievance instead. Also bear in mind that if you are part of the wrongdoing, being the whistleblower won’t stop action being taken against you by the authorities or your employer.

If you are not sure whether you are a worker, find out about your employment status here.

You can find out more about whistleblowing from Protect and on GOV.UK. This includes how to make a report and who to make it to. If you are a member of a trade union, you can also speak to your union representative. 

Constructive dismissal

Constructive dismissal is when someone resigns from their job because their employer has seriously breached their contract.

The reasons for leaving must be serious. You must prove that you resigned because of this. You must show that you acted quickly in response to the breach.

Reasons for leaving might be that your employer:

  • allowed someone to bully or harass you
  • demoted you
  • didn’t pay you
  • made big changes to how you work, like changing work patterns.

It’s often best to sort out any issues with your employer. Resigning is a big step. A constructive dismissal claim can be difficult to win.

You can find out more about constructive dismissal here.

I want to leave my job

It’s usually in your contract that you must work a period of notice when you resign from a job. But in the case of constructive dismissal, it may be best to leave right away.

This can be time sensitive. Staying in your job or working your notice can affect your rights. You might be seen as accepting the breach if you stay.

This is a complex area of employment law. You should get legal advice as soon as you can. An employment law specialist can help you understand if you should resign, and if you should work your notice period. 


There are two types of redundancy: voluntary redundancy and compulsory redundancy (i.e. when you are selected for redundancy by your employer).

If you have been selected, there must be a genuine redundancy situation. Your employer must have made the decision in a fair way. If not, you may be able to bring a claim for unfair dismissal in the employment tribunal.

If you volunteer for redundancy, it’s up to your employer if they accept your request.

If you have been offered voluntary redundancy by your employer, make sure you check the offer carefully. You may be asked to take legal advice before you can sign an agreement accepting the terms of your voluntary redundancy. If this is the case, usually your employer will offer to pay a contribution towards your legal fees.

You might be able to claim benefits like Universal Credit after taking redundancy. If you have a mortgage protection policy, it could be affected. Mortgage benefits might not be paid.

You can find out more about redundancy here.

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