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In a trade union, a grievance is a complaint filed by an employee which may be resolved by procedures provided for in a collective agreement or by mechanisms established by an employer. Such a grievance may arise from a violation of the collective bargainingagreement or violations of the law, such as workplace safety regulations. All employees have the contractual right to raise a grievance, and there is a statutory Acas Code of Practice for handling grievances.
Ordinarily, unionized workers must ask their operations managers for time during work hours to meet with a shop steward in order to discuss the problem, which may or may not result in a grievance. If the grievance cannot be resolved through negotiation between labor and management, mediation, arbitration or legal remedies may be employed. Typically, everyone involved with a grievance has strict time lines which must be met in the processing of this formal complaint, until it is resolved. Employers cannot legally treat an employee any differently whether he or she has filed a grievance or not. The difference between a grievance and a complaint, in the unionized workplace, is whether the subject matter relates to the collective bargaining agreement.