PLC | Sustainability

Grievance policy

Grievance policy

Last updated 30/09/21


We aim to create a great place to work for our colleagues, and are committed to establishing, and encouraging, friendly working relationships.

However, we recognise that, at times, colleagues may experience problems or have concerns about work, and this is called a grievance. 

The purpose of this policy is to provide colleagues with the information they need, should they want to highlight and express concerns, so that they may be resolved.

1. Who is this policy for?

This policy is applicable to all our colleagues within the UK

Colleagues who work in our distribution centres must refer to the grievance procedures within their Site Agreement. Further guidance on the grievance procedure applicable to distribution colleagues is available from the People Partner or Trade Union Representative.

This policy does not form part of a colleague’s contract and may be amended or withdrawn at any time, subject to consultation.

2. What is expected from colleagues?

All colleagues have a responsibility to develop a constructive working environment where everyone is treated with respect; and problems are dealt with openly, promptly, and fairly.

3. What is informal resolution?

We believe a professional, healthy, positive, and productive environment is created by resolving issues informally where appropriate. By this we mean talking to each other honestly and respectfully. 

In many situations, a colleague’s manager will aim to resolve their concerns at the earliest opportunity and support them in identifying the most appropriate solution.

If concern is being caused by another colleague, we ask the colleague to consider whether the easiest solution is to speak with them directly, in private.  Being polite and using positive suggestions can often resolve the issue. 

If a colleague needs some help in tackling an issue, their manager can support them informally in a number of ways on an entirely informal basis.   

The Let’s Talk form is available for colleagues to bring the matter to the manager’s attention if required, and support in identifying the most effective solution within a reasonable timescale.

If the concern involves the colleague’s manager, the matter should be raised with the managers’ manager.

4. Will Tesco keep any concerns a colleague has confidential?

If a colleague speaks to their manager about a concern, the manager will aim to resolve.  This means discussing concerns with the people involved to fix the issue.  

Anyone involved in any stage of these procedures must treat all matters discussed with the strictest confidence.

All colleagues have the right to request copies of notes from meetings, statements or letters about themselves and we will remove any sensitive or personal information before providing a copy.

5. Bullying, discrimination, and harassment

We will protect our colleagues from discrimination (on the grounds of race, religion or belief, ethnic or national origin, colour, nationality, gender, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, age, disability, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity or political belief/opinions), bullying and harassment by anyone they come into contact with in the course of their work, including other colleagues, contractors, customers and suppliers.

The actions described above are unacceptable behaviour and are dealt with sensitively and confidentially to reach the most appropriate resolution.

If a Tesco colleague is found to be discriminating, harassing, or bullying others, this will result in disciplinary action, which could result in their dismissal.

If the person involved is a contractor or supplier, Tesco will refer the matter to the company concerned to use their own investigatory and disciplinary procedures and will support any investigations where necessary.

If the person involved is a customer, the hearing manager will choose the most appropriate action to take. This may include informing the customer that their behaviour is unacceptable and unwelcome and may ultimately result in excluding the customer from the store.

Please see our Bullying and Harassment policy for further information.

6. How can a colleague raise a formal grievance?

Resolving issues informally helps us respond to concerns quickly and agreeably; however, we understand that this will not always be the right approach to take.

If a colleague’s concerns haven’t been resolved informally, and they remain unhappy with the situation at work (or if the matter is considered too serious to raise informally) then a formal grievance should be raised.  In some cases, we will explore an informal approach in the first instance and confirm this approach has been exhausted.

To do this, the colleague will need to write their concerns down and share them with the manager (or another manager) by email, using our Grievance Form or by letter.

A colleague’s grievance will be taken seriously, and we acknowledge their grievance within 7 days of receipt. We start the investigation as soon as we’re made aware of the concerns and conclude as soon as we can within a reasonable timeframe to allow for the most thorough investigation possible. There will be a justifiable reason for any delay.

A colleague will: -

  • receive a written invite to the meeting which will take place as soon as possible (normally, within 14 days of us receiving their letter, unless a justifiable reason for the delay).
  • have the option to be accompanied by either a colleague or a Trade Union Representative;
  • receive a written outcome of the grievance investigation; and
  • be able to raise an appeal if they remain dissatisfied at the outcome of this grievance investigation.

7. Who will hear the colleague’s grievance?

A manager who is impartial, trained and has the authority to make decisions will investigate the grievance.  This could be:

  • The line manager
  • Another manager of the same level as their manager
  • Another person who we believe meets the criteria

A grievance appeal will be heard by a different manager. This could be:

  • a manager at the same level or higher as the manager who carried out the grievance (this manager may be from a different store/team)
  • another person who we believe meets the criteria

Managers who have completed the Solving Problems Level One e-learning and validation

Informal grievance resolution

Grievance investigations

Grievance appeals

Managers who have completed the Solving Problems Level Two e-learning, in person training and e-learning validation

All of the above meetings plus more serious matters

Being impartial means that the manager has no other involvement in the matter (e.g. they’re not a witness to any events) and have no interest in the outcome of any meeting.  Effectively they are a neutral party.

If a colleague is on a secondment or working on their placement, they can perform the duties they are trained to carry out.

In all cases, if a grievance has been handled informally, and they raise a formal grievance about the same matter, then a different manager will deal with it.

8. Who else attends these meetings?

 Trade Union Representative or colleague

A colleague is responsible for organising a USDAW/Sata Representative (and they are a member) or a colleague if they would like to be accompanied. If they need help (e.g. they are not aware  of who their Union Representatives are or they do not  have one in store), the manager who is holding the meeting will support the colleague  in arranging a suitable Union Representative.

If a grievance has been raised against an Usdaw Representative, the manager should discuss the matter with an official of the union after obtaining the colleague’s agreement.

USDAW Representatives have the right to be represented by their local Area Organiser, and the investigating manager will contact them to agree a convenient date. 

Trade Union Representatives and colleagues have the right to;

  • have reasonable paid time to help a colleague prepare for meetings;
  • can review relevant documentation;
  • represent and speak on a colleague’s behalf;
  • give support throughout the process;
  • witness and take notes of the procedure;
  • confer with the colleague during the meeting;
  • adjourn the meeting at any point if they need to consult with the colleague or seek advice; and
  • call on the legal advice of USDAW (where applicable, for USDAW Representatives only).

During the meeting, the colleague’s Representative has the right to speak on their behalf, put their case forward and to respond to any points. However, Representatives are not allowed to answer questions that the colleague has been asked.

A colleague is not entitled to be accompanied by legal representatives or family members (unless they also work for Tesco), with the exception of employees under 18 years old or those with a specific need (e.g. special needs or learning difficulties).  In these circumstances and in addition to the recognised Union Representative or colleague, they may also want to be accompanied by a parent or guardian, if the colleague chooses to be.

If a colleague requires an interpreter to fully understand the process, they can request for an additional person to accompany them, and where possible this should also be a Tesco employee. The interpreter’s role is in addition to the recognised representative and they are there to provide language support only.

If a colleague has been invited to a grievance hearing and would like to be accompanied by a Representative who is not available, then they should arrange for a different Representative of their choice to attend the meeting with them. The colleague will need to speak to their manager if they need help in arranging an alternative Representative.

9. Formal grievance hearing

During the grievance hearing, the colleague will have the opportunity to talk about their concerns and how they would like them to be resolved. 

The investigating manager will ask the colleague questions and may challenge their perception of events – this is what they need to do to form a clear understanding of the situation and establish the facts.

The colleague and their representative can:

  • ask questions;
  • ask for specific colleagues to be interviewed;
  • ask for any other evidence to support their case to be obtained; or
  • call an adjournment to the meeting at any time, for example if they need to discuss the matter with their representative, clarify an issue or seek further advice.

At the end of the grievance hearing, the manager is likely to need to investigate the information shared with them by the colleague. They will usually speak to any people named and refer to any relevant documents.  They may need to speak to the colleague again and where possible, a further meeting will be arranged during the first meeting.

10. Possible outcomes of a formal grievance.

The investigating manager will decide on the appropriate course of action. This could mean: -

  • Upholding – they believe that the colleague’s concerns are valid and will take steps to improve the situation;
  • Not upholding – they believe that the colleague’s concerns are not valid/there is no evidence to support their concerns; or
  • Partly upholding - they agree with some parts of their grievance but not all.

The colleague will receive a letter confirming the decision, and who you should raise an appeal with if you remain unhappy.

Whether the grievance has been handled informally or formally, the grievance manager will consider the most appropriate option available when considering how to resolve the situation for the colleague. 

11. Appealing against a grievance outcome

If a colleague does not agree with the outcome of their formal grievance, they can appeal in writing, explaining why they are dissatisfied, within 14 days of receiving the written outcome of the investigation. If they appeal after 14 days, then they’ll be asked to provide an explanation as to why their appeal was submitted late. 

The colleague can do this for any reason. A second manager is authorised by the company to make a different decision if they feel it is appropriate.  

This is the final stage of our grievance process.

12. What information will a colleague receive once a decision has been made about their grievance?

They will receive:

  • a copy of any notes taken at meetings with;
  • a letter confirming the outcome of their grievance; and
  • a report outlining the steps that have been taken to investigate their concerns, the findings of the investigating manager, and their conclusion.

If the colleague would like to have a redacted copy of any investigation documents in which they are mentioned, they must ask the investigating manager in writing.

13. Can a colleague be disciplined for raising a grievance?

If we investigate a grievance and believe that it has been raised falsely and maliciously, we may take disciplinary action against the colleague.

14. Can a colleague raise a grievance about a disciplinary process?

Any issues raised during the disciplinary process, regarding the investigation or any matters linked, will either be considered during the disciplinary hearing itself, or at an appeal hearing. 

If a colleague raises a grievance about an investigation, disciplinary or appeal process, they will be asked to discuss these matters at the meetings/hearings already scheduled.

15. Can a colleague raise a grievance on behalf of a colleague?

A colleague is not able to raise a grievance on behalf of someone else.  If they are aware that someone they work with has a concern, we encourage them to come forward themselves.

16. Can a colleague raise a grievance with other colleagues?

If a colleague has an identical grievance to other colleagues and raise this together, we will facilitate a sensible way of dealing with the collective grievance, and where each individual agrees, this can be addressed as one grievance hearing.

If both colleagues are members of USDAW, their USDAW representative can raise the grievance on their behalf. Alternatively, they can agree for one of them to represent the collective group.

Each individual’s name should be listed on the grievance form or letter and we would notify the outcome of every stage to each individual.

While we would always look to follow our normal time frames, due to the number of people involved, it may be necessary to extend the timeframes, and we will agree this with each colleague.

17. Can a colleague ‘whistle blow’ through the grievance process?

Yes they can.  A colleague will be protected if they speak out in good faith about harmful behaviour or misconduct.

They should feel able to talk about any worries or problems with their manager or another responsible person, without fear of victimisation or dismissal.  If they feel uncomfortable doing this, there is an independent and confidential helpline (Protectorline), open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year that they can contact instead. 

Freephone: 0800 048 8958


18. Can a colleague raise a formal grievance if they have left Tesco?

We would rather that a colleague told us about their concerns before the leave, as then we have the opportunity to resolve them for the colleague. The colleague can use their Leavers Interview to raise any concerns however, if they choose to write to us after they’ve left, we’ll consider their concerns and decide whether to investigate them on the basis of what is in their letter.