Introduction to this document

Reply to retraction of grievance

If an employee raises a formal grievance, it’s ultimately their choice whether to pursue it. If they withdraw it, your two options are either to confirm you won’t be taking any further steps or to state that you nevertheless intend to conduct a wider investigation into the matter. Adopt the latter approach if serious issues were raised relating to harassment or bullying.

Grievance withdrawal

There are various reasons why an employee might change their mind about having raised a formal grievance, e.g. they've now resolved the issue informally with the other parties involved, they raised it when they were angry or upset and they've since had time to reflect on their actions, they know their grievance was contrived or exaggerated and your investigation has now made them appreciate that you’re treating the matter seriously, or new information has arisen which has shed new light on the situation. If an employee does wish to withdraw a formal grievance and tries to do so verbally, ask them to complete our Retraction of Grievance Form as your written evidence. Our form asks the employee to state the reasons for their retraction which might be useful in highlighting if they’ve done so under duress from other employees or because they’re worried about possible repercussions or detrimental treatment.

Two options

Once you’ve received their grievance withdrawal notification, use our Reply to Retraction of Grievance to formally acknowledge it and to confirm that youre treating their grievance as withdrawn. Our letter then has two options. If the grievance withdrawal is straightforward and doesn’t present any issues, you can confirm that you won’t be taking any further steps in relation to the grievance - that’s the first option in our letter. This means the matter is now closed. However, if the grievance raised serious concerns that you just can’t ignore, such as threatening behaviour, bullying or harassment allegations, our letter explains that you reserve the right to continue to investigate it. So, the second option is that you intend to conduct a wider investigation into the matter and that the employee may be contacted so that further information can be obtained from them to assist with your investigation. You can’t force an employee into co-operating with your investigation though, but you should try to allay any fears they have and let them know that, to take any necessary disciplinary action against the alleged perpetrators, you need to put together sufficient evidence to support the allegations. You’re perfectly entitled to follow up on the issues raised in this way, and indeed you should do so where serious issues are raised relating to the unlawful or unacceptable behaviour of other staff or managers. It might result in your then using your disciplinary procedure to investigate misconduct allegations against the alleged perpetrators.

Tribunal claim

Should the employee subsequently resign and claim constructive dismissal, or claim unlawful discrimination because of harassment, bullying or your discriminatory conduct, in relation to the subject matter of their grievance, our letter and any follow-up action that you take can provide important evidence that you did what you could to address the matter.