A Basic Guide to Writing A Formal Grievance Letter

Drafting a formal grievance letter becomes the best option when informal approaches to resolve a work-related concern doesn’t seem to work. This guide has provided tips that will help you draft a grievance letter using the correct tone and language.

What is a Grievance Letter?

A grievance letter is a document written to complain a power imbalance between two people, where one person feels mistreated or disadvantaged. Grievance letters can be formalized as a course of action such as negotiation, mediation, appeal, or protest.

A grievance letter is a formal letter that addresses a specific situation, an incident, and the solution that you would like to see applied. These letters are also the last resort, sometimes following a preceding unsuccessful approach. In short, a grievance letter is used to express dissatisfaction and ask for relief from a situation.

Grievance letters are usually utilized in work-related issues such as unfair salary, missing employment benefits, sexual harassment, and fraudulent practices. Employee grievance letters need to be written based on the company’s ethical guidelines and policy statements.

Sometimes grievance letters may include a case number to denote a formal complaint. Grievance letters are made by employees to the Human Resources (HR) Department of a corporation or an employee’s manager. The letter’s purpose is to provide an evidence-based explanation of the situation that may have caused a complaint. It is also to make a complaint about an ongoing or chronic problem.

When to Write a Grievance Letter

A grievance letter is the kind of letter an employee writes when they are dissatisfied with their job. Instances where you write a grievance letter include: cases of discrimination, bullying and harassment. Usually a grievance letter becomes the next step only when informal approach to resolve the issues seems abortive.

A grievance letter may be written to address something disappointing, humiliating, or annoying. Generally, these letters are written to complain about misconduct, violation, unsafe working conditions, or salary issues. Workplace grievances are usually resolved using an informal approach. In cases where attempts to resolve the situation informally fails, formal grievances come into play.

There is a need to follow the company’s legal procedure concerning raising a grievance. This way, you will avoid delays or difficulties in addressing and solving the matter. Most employment contracts or company handbooks have the grievance procedure stated in a section. You can also use templates to write your letter.

Format for Writing a Formal Grievance Letter

In any dispute, proper formal procedures should always be taken. A grievance letter is a formal complaint to resolve a conflict or complaint through decision-making activities. In professional settings, the first step in any dispute is to document the problem and write down your decision regarding the grievance. A typical grievance letter should have the following.

  • Date: Write the accurate date (day, month, and year). This is important for record-keeping and documentation purposes.
  • Complainant’s name, designation, and contact details: Write your name and contact details, so the letter’s recipient knows who is writing.
  • Contact details of recipient: Include the name, designation, company’s name, and address of the person you are addressing.
  • Salutation: Use a formal and professional greeting. Dear Mr/Mrs is a suitable salutation to use.
  • Your complaint: Go straight to the point. State your grievance in the first paragraph, and go into details in the second paragraph. Keep it concise and straightforward. Use a soft, polite, and very professional tone.
  • Conclusion: Summarize everything you’ve said in your letter. State how the issue is affecting your work productivity and urge the recipient of the letter to look into the issue.
  • Express gratitude: Thank the recipient of your letter for the time and opportunity to write the letter.
  • Complimentary close: Use a professional closing. “Yours sincerely” and “Yours faithfully” are the most appropriate for a formal grievance letter.
  • Sign-off: Append your signature and sign off with your name. If you didn’t write your details at the beginning of the letter, you should include them beneath your name.

10 Tips for Drafting a Grievance Letter

There are several reasons why you might want to draft a grievance letter. Here are ten tips that will help you when it comes to writing a formal grievance letter.

  • Your letter should be addressed to the appropriate authority to initiate a grievance procedure. If you don’t know who to address your letter to, check the employment contract or company handbook for information on the company’s grievance procedure.
  • Write in a professional and formal tone; even if you know the letter’s recipient, beware of familiarity. Assume that the person does not know you or has little knowledge of your complaint. Write in clear terms and detail.
  • Start with a brief introduction, including your start date and job role, and a summary of events leading up to your complaint.
  • Be precise about your complaint and write in sufficient detail so that your employer understands your grievance and can investigate it thoroughly. Remember to keep the content clear and concise.
  • Include critical facts such as dates, times, locations of incidents, and the names of persons involved and any witnesses.
  • Ensure you have a good idea of what to say within your grievance letter and stick to the facts; don’t make allegations.
  • Keep your emotions in check. Do not use abusive or demeaning language.
  • Whenever possible, attach copies of evidence to support your complaint.
  • Explain what efforts you have taken to resolve the matter informally.
  • Urge the company to resolve the issue as soon as possible. Suggest steps you would like them to take to resolve the issue.
man wearing blue shirt writing on white paper with bold pen
Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash

To Wrap Up

A grievance letter is an official letter sent to an administrative body to describe dissatisfaction or raise a complaint in the workplace. It can be a healthy way to help address issues when informal approaches have proved abortive.

The tips provided in this article will help you draft an effective formal grievance letter.

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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