When you do not need to follow the formal grievance procedure Here is a list of situations where you do not need to follow the formal grievance procedure: if you've been dismissed, unless you are claiming constructive dismissal (where you have resigned because of your employer's serious breach of contract if more than one employee is affected by the same grievance and it is raised with the employer by an official of a recognised trade union. In workplaces where a union is not recognised, a collective grievance can be handled by a union rep or employee representative who has been elected or appointed by employees to deal with such grievances. The employer must have agreed to use this collective procedure if there are reasonable grounds for believing that there would be a serious threat of violence or damage to property by one of the parties if you have suffered harassment and reasonably believe you would suffer further harassment if you follow the procedures. Harassment means that there has been conduct which is offensive, humiliating, intimidating or violates your dignity if it is not practicable to begin or complete the procedure within a reasonable period, for example, if one of the parties becomes seriously ill if you have left your job and it is not reasonably practical for you to send a written grievance to your ex-employer, for example, because they are living abroad, not traceable or dead. Wherever possible, you are advised to use the grievance procedures. Where you donât, it will be up to you to prove to an employment tribunal that one of the above circumstances applies, if you want to rely on them. Keep evidence, for example, doctorsâ letters that can help to explain your position. Steps to work through to identify an unfair dismissal There are some workers who may never be able to claim unfair dismissal, no matter what the reason for their dismissal. They include:- Police officers Members of the Armed Forces A dismissal may be fair or unfair depending on the circumstances of the dismissal. You need to work through the following steps to identify whether you can make a claim for unfair dismissal:- step one â do you have the right to make a claim for unfair dismissal? http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/index/life/employment/dismissal.htm#Step_one_who_cannot_claim_unfair_dismiss Some groups of employees do not have the right to make a claim for unfair dismissal at all (see under heading Step one: who cannot claim unfair dismissal) step two â have you actually been dismissed (see under heading Step two: have you actually been dismissed) step three - you may have been discriminated against (see under heading Step three: have you been discriminated against) step four - was the reason for the dismissal one which means the dismissal was automatically unfair? You may have been dismissed for a reason which means the dismissal is automatically unfair - see under heading Step four: what is the reason for the dismissal and is it one which means the dismissal is automatically unfair step five - if the dismissal was not for one of the reasons in step four, was the dismissal fair or unfair, and did your employer act reasonably in dismissing you? You may be able to claim that you have been unfairly dismissed to an employment tribunal (industrial tribunal in Northern Ireland), provided you have worked for your employer for one year - see under heading Step five: is the reason for the dismissal one which is not automatically unfair. Enforcing rights at work If you have a problem with your employer you should usually try to sort it out informally first. If this doesn't work, you should follow the special three-step grievance procedure which all employers are required to have by law. This means you must: send your employer a written statement, setting out your grievance, and give them at least 28 days to respond meet with your employer to discuss your grievance appeal against your employer's decision if you are not happy with it. If you have followed this procedure and are still not happy with the outcome, you can take your case to an employment tribunal. You should bear in mind that if you haven't followed the grievance procedure properly first, the employment tribunal may decide to reduce any compensation it awards you. Dealing with grievances, dismissal and disciplinary action at work http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/index/life/employment/dealing_with_grievances.htm There are some circumstances in which you do not have to follow the grievance procedure before taking your case to an employment tribunal. To find out what these are, and for more information about raising a grievance with your employer, see What you need to know, Dealing with grievances, dismissal and disciplinary action at work.