Statutes and Ordinances of the University of Cambridge
pp. 90–93

In this section

Redress of Grievances
(Special Ordinance under Schedule to Statute C Chapter V 2)


1. Every University officer has a right to raise any concerns, problems, or complaints relating to her or his appointment or employment, not being matters for which express provision is made elsewhere in Statutes and Ordinances.

2. The purpose of this Ordinance is to provide an appropriate means for University officers to seek redress of workplace concerns as informally, fairly and speedily as possible. Where after investigation a grievance is found to be vexatious or malicious, and without any reasonable foundation, disciplinary action may follow.

3. An officer may at any time withdraw a grievance or may agree that it has been resolved.

4. The ‘Responsible Person’ in relation to any particular officer shall for the purposes of this Ordinance be either (i) the Head or Director of the appropriate Department, Division of the Unified Administrative Service, or other institution or the Chair of the Board, Syndicate, or other body which is chiefly concerned with the officer’s duties; or (ii) such other University officer as the secretary of the competent authority (as determined by Statute C I 1(b)) may determine. In cases of doubt, the secretary of the competent authority shall determine who is the Responsible Person.

Unless otherwise specified, the Responsible Person may delegate any duty prescribed by Ordinance or under any rule, code of practice, guidance or other provision made under Statute or Ordinance to a named person, provided that the written permission of the secretary of the competent authority to such delegation is obtained in each case, and references to the Responsible Person shall include reference to such other person as appropriate.

5. The expression ‘working day’ shall exclude weekends, public holidays, or any other day when the University Offices are closed.

6. If at any time during the Formal or Appeal Stage of this Grievance Procedure the aggrieved officer considers that any aspect of the process is subject to unreasonable delay, he or she may make a complaint in writing:

  1. (a)at the Formal Stage, to the Director of the Human Resources Division or, if he or she is the Responsible Person, the Chair of the Human Resources Committee, and
  2. (b)at the Appeal Stage, to the Chair of the Human Resources Committee

who shall investigate the alleged delay and respond in writing within five working days of receipt of the complaint. In exceptional circumstances where a complaint has been received, the person to whom the complaint is made may determine that another officer shall act as the Responsible Person or that an officer appointed to inquire into a grievance at the Appeal Stage shall be removed or replaced.


7. At the Informal and Formal stages of the Grievance Procedure the aggrieved officer and the person responsible for considering the grievance shall consider whether to refer the matter to mediation. The University’s internal mediation service may be used if desired. Participation in mediation is voluntary. Anything said or produced by either party to any mediation will be considered to be confidential and without prejudice.

Informal Stage

8. Grievances should first be raised informally by the officer with the person to whom the officer is immediately responsible. Where the conduct of that person is the subject of the grievance, the aggrieved officer should raise the matter informally with a University officer senior to that person. It is expected that most grievances will be resolved at or before this stage.

Formal Stage

9. If the grievance cannot be resolved by informal discussions, then the officer may make a written complaint to the Responsible Person. Where bullying or harassment is the subject matter of the grievance, the Responsible Person may, after consultation with the Human Resources Division, determine that the complaint be regarded as a complaint under the Dignity at Work Procedure if it is considered that this will offer a more appropriate means of addressing the officer’s concerns. Where such a determination is made, the officer may subsequently make a further written complaint to the Responsible Person if he or she is dissatisfied with the outcome of the Dignity at Work Procedure. A grievance cannot be considered under this procedure while a complaint is being considered under the Dignity at Work procedure in respect of the same subject matter.

10. If the grievance directly concerns the Responsible Person, the officer should write to the Director of Human Resources who, in consultation with the Chair of the Human Resources Committee (or, if the Director of Human Resources is the Responsible Person, the Chair of the Human Resources Committee), will appoint a person to act in place of the Responsible Person in the Formal Stage of the Grievance Procedure. Where such an appointment is to be made by the Director of Human Resources, he or she will act in consultation with the Chair of the Human Resources Committee.

11. On receipt of a written grievance the Responsible Person should notify the Human Resources Division without delay. The Human Resources Division will inform the secretary of the competent authority, as determined by Statute C I 1(b), and advise on the requirements of fair and correct practice and procedure, to ensure that these are applied consistently across the University.

12. The Responsible Person will arrange a meeting with the officer, if possible within five working days after receipt of the complaint, and will inform the officer of his or her right to be accompanied, confirming that information in writing. The Responsible Person may, if the subject matter of the grievance requires particular knowledge or expertise, or involves another part of the University, invite to the meeting such other officer or officers as may be of assistance in hearing the grievance and advising the Responsible Person, and will inform the officer that they will be attending the meeting.

13. The officer has the right to be accompanied by a colleague or by a trade union representative. For a person to qualify as a trade union representative, he or she must be certified in writing by the union as having experience of, or having received training in, acting as a worker’s companion at disciplinary or grievance meetings. The officer has no right to insist on being accompanied by a particular person against that person’s will.

14. Before the meeting takes place, the officer shall propose to the Responsible Person whom he or she has chosen as a companion, if any. The Responsible Person shall accept the companion chosen by the officer unless their choice is unreasonable, for example if the companion has a conflict of interest or might prejudice a fair discussion of the grievance, when the Responsible Person may ask them to choose a different companion.

15. Where possible, the timing and location of the meeting should be agreed with the officer. If the officer’s companion cannot attend on the proposed date, the officer can suggest another date as long as it is reasonable and is not more than five working days after the date originally proposed by the responsible person. That five day time limit may be extended by mutual agreement. The meeting should be held in a private location and there should be no interruptions.

16. At the meeting, the officer shall be allowed to explain the complaint and say how he or she thinks it should be settled. If a point in the meeting is reached where the Responsible Person is not sure how to deal with the grievance or believes that further investigation is necessary, he or she should adjourn the meeting to get advice or to investigate further.

17. The officer’s companion shall be allowed to participate fully in the meeting, to confer with the officer during the course of the meeting and if necessary to request an adjournment to confer privately with the officer. The companion may not answer questions on the officer’s behalf, nor address the meeting if the officer does not wish it, nor prevent the Responsible Person from conducting the proceedings in any way.

18. The Responsible Person should give the grievance careful consideration before responding.

19. The Responsible Person should write to the officer within a reasonable time, and normally not more than five working days after the meeting (including any adjournment) has concluded, responding to the grievance and referring to the officer’s right of appeal. Where it is not possible to respond within five working days the officer should be given an explanation for the delay and told when a response can be expected. The response shall be sent by recorded delivery to the officer’s home address as notified to the University by the officer.

Appeal Stage

20. If the officer wishes to appeal, he or she may, within ten working days after the date of the letter of response, write to the Director of Human Resources asking that the grievance be referred to the Human Resources Committee. The Director of Human Resources shall have discretion to accept a later appeal where he or she is satisfied that there was good reason why that appeal could not be submitted within ten working days.

21. On receipt of such a request, the Human Resources Committee will appoint one or more persons to inquire into the grievance with a view to resolving it, and to report. The inquiry shall be subject to the Rules of inquiry contained in paragraph 26.

22. If at any time the grievance is withdrawn, or agreed to have been resolved, by the officer who made it, then the person or persons inquiring into the grievance shall not be obliged to proceed further or to report.

23. The Human Resources Committee will decide, after consideration of any report, what action (if any) to take. The Secretary of the Committee shall promptly notify the aggrieved officer in writing of its decision by recorded delivery to the officer’s home address as notified to the University by the officer.

24. The Human Resources Committee and the person or persons appointed to inquire into the grievance shall proceed with all reasonable speed.

25. This is the end of the procedure and there is no further appeal.

Rules of inquiry

26. The following rules shall apply as regards an inquiry under the Appeal Stage of the grievance procedure:

  1. (i)Before any report is made, the aggrieved officer shall be heard. Such a meeting need not be by all of the persons (if more than one) inquiring into the grievance.
  2. (ii)The aggrieved officer shall be entitled to be represented or accompanied for that purpose by a trade union officer or a colleague, on the same basis as described in paragraphs 12–16 above.
  3. (iii)Subject to the above rules, the person or persons conducting the enquiry shall use all reasonable endeavours to ensure that the conduct of the inquiry is just and fair.

27. This procedure is established pursuant to the Schedule to Statute C, Chapter V 2.

Transitional provision

28. This Ordinance shall apply to all grievances submitted in writing by officers on or after 13 March 2013. The former arrangements contained in former Statute U, VI shall be deemed to apply to all grievances submitted in writing prior to that date, together with the former Regulations relating to Grievance Committees in Ordinances, Chapter II.1 When no longer required this provision may be repealed by Grace.


  1. 1. The regulations were last published in Statutes and Ordinances 2012, p. 212.a