Effective conflict and dispute management is essential for the correct functioning of any workplace. In most businesses, addressing workplace disputes is the responsibility of the Human Resources department or of a designated in-house team. The most common types of formal workplace disputes include:

Workplace disputes can be resolved either internally or with the help of external parties. Nationwide statistics have shown that more than 80 per cent of all workplace disputes are settled internally, and this is the norm as long as the adequate procedures are followed.
Overview on solving workplace disputes
ACAS Guide of grievances and disciplinary action
ACAS Code of Practice on solving workplace disputes
Guide to avoiding and resolving discipline and grievance issues at work
CIPD Resources on workplace dispute resolution


Before raising a formal grievance, employees who have concerns or complaints should raise the issue with their line manager informally. This can be done verbally.

If the above fails, employees are entitled to start a formal grievance procedure. The details on how such procedure is to be conducted vary from company to company, and are outlined in the company's or employee's handbook. It is also possible to find information on the grievance procedure from HR staff, and in some cases the details will be part of the employment contract.

Irrespective of the company's specific procedure, all grievances must be put into writing. A meeting between the employee and the employer will follow in an attempt to resolve the issue. After the meeting, employers must write to the employee informing them of their decision, action to be taken, and how to appeal the decision.
Guide to handling employee grievances
Raising a grievance at work
ACAS guide to grievances at work


Prior to taking formal disciplinary action against an employee, employers are advised to address the issue informally, although they can initiate the disciplinary procedure straight away if there are grounds to do so. Disciplinary action is justified whenever an employee fails to comply with written standards at work, whether they are related to performance, professional conduct, or relationships with managers and / or colleagues.

Disciplinary procedures usually consist of 3 stages:

There are a few things that must be clearly stated during the disciplinary process in to comply with fair workplace dispute resolution guidelines and to avoid later legal claims about unfair dismissal. These include:

In addition, employees should be allowed to bring a companion to the disciplinary hearing.
ACAS Q&A on disciplinary action
Disciplinary procedures (information for employees)
Information on disciplinary appeals and appeals hearings

Mediation, Conciliation and Arbitration in the Workplace

External or third-party workplace dispute resolution methods are an option when issues or complaints cannot be resolved between employees and employers alone. Assistance is available in three main ways:

ACAS guide to Mediation
Finding a registered mediator
ACAS Early Conciliation
ACAS guide to Arbitration
Arbitration Q&As

ACAS Code of Practice for Disciplinary and Grievances Procedures

The ACAS Code of Practice outlines how grievances and disciplinary action should be conducted. The latest revision made to this document dates from 2015.
ACAS Code of Practice

Employment Tribunals

Employment tribunals are a workplace dispute resolution option that can be used if the parties involved in a dispute cannot reach an agreement. Typical cases brought before employment tribunals involve matters like workplace discrimination, unfair dismissals, and other forms of unlawful actions or practices. In most cases, claims have to be made within 3 months of the date in which the problem in question arose, and ACAS must be notified of all claims sent to an employment tribunal.

A fee applies to all cases brought to a tribunal, and is usually split into a claim fee and a hearing fee. Fees must be paid in advance. Some claims can be filed online.
Making a claim to an employment tribunal
ACAS guide to employment tribunals
Download claim form
Starting a claim online