If you’re unhappy with your employer, things can be tricky to handle. It’s often hard to talk about problems in the workplace. But if something’s wrong, there are things you can do.

We discuss grievances, whistleblowingconstructive dismissal and redundancy below. All involve things that happen at work. But if there are other problems at work you’d like information about, let us know here.

Here are 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, or believe you’re being harassed, bullied or discriminated against.

Speak to your line manager and explain your concerns. If you feel like you can’t speak to your manager, you could speak to someone else who is in charge. If you belong to a trade union, you could speak to your union rep.

Raising a formal grievance

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

Your employer should have a procedure. This could be found in an HR handbook or company intranet. If not, you can follow the Acas Code of Practice.

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 three months after the thing happened.

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 process.

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 and help you with your case.

Whistleblowing

If you think something illegal is happening at work, you can report this. It might be a boss or the company itself.

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

Check if your company has a whistleblowing policy and follow what it says to do.

If you are a worker, the law protects you from being unfairly dismissed, discriminated against, or subjected to any negative treatment for whistleblowing.

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.

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.

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, and 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 to work a period of notice when you resign from a job. But in the case of constructive dismissal, it can be best to leave right away.

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.

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

Redundancy

There are two types of redundancy: voluntary redundancy and compulsory redundancy (you are selected for redundancy).

If you have been selected, your employer must have made the decision in a fair way.

This is different if your job no longer exists. For example, the whole company may be closing, or you may be the only person in your part of the organisation.

If you volunteer for redundancy, it’s up to your employer whether to accept your offer.

If you have been offered voluntary redundancy, make sure you check the offer carefully.

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.

Find a specialist lawyer

You can find out more about specialist employment lawyers on the GOV.UK website.

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