Beware the 90-day time limit for raising a Personal Grievance with your Employer – unless exceptional circumstances apply…

An employee can raise an issue formally with their employer by raising a personal grievance. An employee may do this for a number of reasons, including if they have been unjustifiably dismissed or unfairly disadvantaged.

In order to raise a personal grievance the employee must make the employer aware of it, or take reasonable steps to raise it, within 90 days of when the action alleged to be a personal grievance occurred, or when it came to the attention of the employee (whichever was later).

If an employee does not raise a personal grievance within 90 days they lose the right to bring a claim unless the Employment Relations Authority (“ERA”) finds exceptional circumstances justifying allowing more time to raise it.

The ERA looks at the individual circumstances of each situation to determine whether exceptional circumstances apply, allowing a grievance to be raised outside of the 90-day period. 

In one case, an employee had been very unwell in the 90-day period, and had only had medical clearance granted several days before raising the personal grievance. The ERA therefore decided to grant leave for the employee to raise a personal grievance against the employer in those exceptional circumstances.

It is wise to raise a grievance with an employer as soon as possible, to ensure that you fall within the 90-day time period, and do not fall down at the initial stage of the claim. The grievance does not have to be in writing, but it is wise to do it in writing so there is proof of when you raised it and what your grievance was about. This helps to avoid later claims that no grievance was raised before the 90-day time limit.

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