Here at Co-op we take our colleagues’ concerns very seriously. So if you raise a complaint about your work or working conditions – such as pay and benefits, health and safety or a relationship at work - we’ll make sure we deal with it as quickly as possible.

This policy should be read along with the Grievance Process, which sets out the steps we’ll take to deal with a complaint raised by a colleague.

If your concern is about bullying or harassment at work, you should also read our Bullying and Harassment / Respect Policy.

Also just so you know, we have a separate Whistleblowing Policy which sets out how you can raise concerns about any wrongdoing that might be taking place within Co-op. But if you’re directly affected by the matter or feel you've been victimised for blowing the whistle, you can also use the Grievance Process.

Crucial bits

Informal discussions
We want to resolve problems in the workplace informally wherever we can. If you have a complaint about something to do with your work or your working environment, talk to your manager. They’ll handle the matter as confidentially as possible and in a supportive and understanding way, and will try to resolve things as quickly as possible. There’s no specific right to be accompanied to informal meetings. But if you ask and there’s a suitable person readily available, we’ll allow them to come along with you.

But if things don’t improve, or if you don’t feel you can speak to your manager or your complaint is about them, you should try to speak to your manager’s manager about the matter. But if you don’t feel able to do this or if things can’t be resolved this way, you can go to the formal Grievance Process.

Grievance meetings
If you raise a grievance, we’ll acknowledge it and you’ll be invited to a formal meeting to talk about it. We’ll try to arrange this meeting as soon as we can, usually within seven calendar days of receiving your grievance, as we know you’ll want to get things sorted quickly. If you or your chosen representative can’t make the meeting, speak to the manager holding the meeting as soon as possible letting them know dates and times you can make and they’ll try to rearrange it for a time that works for everyone. Rescheduled meetings will usually be within a week of the original meeting time.

You can have either a work colleague or a trade union representative come along to the formal grievance meeting with you. If you’re under 18 you can choose to be accompanied by a parent or guardian. If you’re a member of a trade union, you may want to talk to them about things, even if you don’t want to be accompanied to the meeting. If you’re a trade union representative yourself, you can be accompanied to a grievance meeting by an official from your trade union.

There’s more information about being accompanied to formal meetings in the Guide to Workplace Representatives.

Just so it’s clear, we don’t allow grievance meetings to be recorded, on any device including through Teams or Zoom, but detailed notes will be taken, and you’ll be given a copy after the meeting.

If you make a covert recording of a grievance meeting, we’ll investigate and may need to deal with the matter under the Disciplinary Policy.

Grievance outcomes
After the meeting the manager will do any further investigation that’s needed. They’ll then write to the colleague to tell them the outcome.

The possible outcomes are:

  • Grievance not upheld - if the manager doesn’t find evidence to support your grievance
  • Grievance fully upheld - if the manager finds evidence to support your grievance
  • Grievance partially upheld - if the manager finds evidence to support some of the concerns you’ve raised but not others

There’s more information about this in the outcomes section of the Grievance Process.

You’ll always be given the right to appeal any grievance outcome. This’ll be explained in the outcome letter and tell you who to address your appeal to. You need to appeal within seven calendar days of getting your outcome letter, but we’ll give you longer in exceptional circumstances.

There’s more information about this in the appeals section of the Grievance Process.

Things to think about

It's important to remember to raise any grievances as soon as you can following an issue of concern, so we have the best chance of investigating and resolving any issues.

We'd usually expect a grievance to be raised within one month of the issues raised taking place or as soon as is realistically possible.

Please bear in mind that we won’t be able to uphold your grievance if we can’t find enough evidence to support it.

Just so you’re aware, if we get a grievance that’s a repeat complaint of a grievance which has been raised before, and the circumstances haven’t changed, we may decide not to hear it again.

Also, if you raise a grievance and we believe that you’ve intentionally made untrue allegations, or if you treat another colleague unfairly because they’ve raised a legitimate concern about an issue at work, we may deal with this under the Disciplinary Process.

Collective Grievances
If a group of colleagues want to raise a grievance about the same issue, you should submit one grievance letter/form on behalf of them all, containing the names and signatures of each colleague raising the grievance. You should also nominate a spokesperson to represent the group. If some, or all of the colleagues, are trade union members, they may choose to be accompanied by a trade union representative.

The grievance will then be dealt with in line with the Grievance Process and the spokesperson will be invited to attend a grievance meeting on behalf of the group and be informed of the outcome.

If a recognised trade union raises a collective grievance on behalf of their members, it will follow the procedure in the agreements between the trade unions and the Co-op. Until the procedures have been exhausted, no strike, lockout or other industrial action will take place.

If a manager receives a collective grievance, they must contact ER Services for advice.

Grievances from ex-colleagues
If you raise a grievance after you’ve left the Co-op, we’ll still investigate the matter fully, but we won’t always hold a grievance meeting. You can choose to come in for a meeting if you like.

There’s more information about how we’ll deal with grievances from ex-colleagues in the Grievance Process.

Grievances during the disciplinary process
If you raise a grievance during the disciplinary process and it’s unrelated to the disciplinary matter, the disciplinary process will continue and another manager will deal with your grievance separately. But if the two matters are connected, we may either deal with the grievance during the disciplinary process or pause this process while we deal with your grievance.

If you need further support

If you have questions about this, please speak to your manager. If managers need advice they can contact ER Services.

You may need additional support, so remember we have an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) who can help. You can contact the EAP in confidence on 0800 069 8854.