Personal grievance

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If you think you have been treated unfairly by your employer and you want to take a personal grievance you must tell your employer within 90 days. The personal grievance process is quite complicated and, if you are a union member, you're in a much better position to get advice and assistance to deal with your problem. Unions are very good at dealing with problems at source, in the workplace. In fact, most personal grievances get solved without them having to be dealt with by lawyers and outside agencies.

If you think there is a serious misconduct issue brewing that involves you, then its important you talk as soon as possible with your union delegate or organiser. This is because there are important legal rules involved which you need to know about, and your union delegate or organiser can check whether your employer has followed these rules.

The most common type of personal grievance involves dismissals, or threats of dismissal. Usually, a personal grievance arises when someone faces dismissal for serious misconduct (issues like fighting, drinking, stealing on the job), but they can also happen if someone loses their job through agreement termination or redundancy. Other types of personal grievances include:

Unjustified Action

This happens when an action of the employer disadvantages the worker's employment or conditions of their employment. An example may be someone being passed over for a promotion when they were clearly the obvious choice for the job.

Sexual Harrassment

This happens when there is any unwelcome attention of a sexual nature. The key word is unwelcome and for a sexual innuendo or act to be defined as harassment the person being harassed must indicate that the attention is unwelcome. Failure to do so gives the impression that the attention may be welcome and thus not harassment.

Racial Harrassment

A worker can be racially harassed in their employment if their employer uses language (whether written or spoken), or visual material, or physical behaviour that has a negative or detrimental impact on the worker on grounds of their race, colour, ethnic or national origin.


This happens when pressure is put on a person to join or not join a union.


Discrimination means that the employer has not treated the worker in the same way as other workers on the basis of prejudice. For more information see Discrimination.

If your personal grievance is successful

You can be awarded a number of things. These may include being:

  • Re-hired if you were unfairly fired (reinstatement to your job is primary remedy for unjustified dismissal)
  • Paid any salary or wages that are owed to you
  • Paid compensation

If your personal grievance is unsuccessful, then nothing happens. However, you may have to pay some of your employer's legal costs.