Tom’s Essential Guide To The Appeal Process

Last update: 14th December 2021

You have the right to appeal the outcome of any disciplinary or grievance decision made by your employer.

The ACAS Code of Practise on disciplinary and grievance procedures entitles any employee to lodge an appeal against their employer’s disciplinary decision or grievance outcome that is imposed on them.

This process will start with an appeal letter.

This guide will help you understand the process, and how to put together an effective letter that could be instrumental in overturning an unfavourable decision, or become an important document in a later Employment Tribunal case.

Writing your appeal letter

When would I need to write an appeal letter?

If you have been the subject of a disciplinary or grievance hearing and not been happy with the outcome, your next option is to appeal your employer’s decision. This will be an important first step if you find the outcome will be detrimental to you moving forward.

You may be facing a demotion, or in the worst case scenario a possible dismissal. Whatever the potential outcome, you may feel that you have grounds to challenge the decision your employer reached as unfair. This could be for a number of reasons, but commonly because:

  • Your disciplinary investigation was not carried out properly
  • Facts within your defence have been ignored
  • The sanction you subsequently received were unreasonable

It is not until your employer receives your appeal letter that the process can begin.


Strict Time Limitations apply to advancing a claim at Employment Tribunal and the appeal process does NOT extend this.

An unscrupulous employer will be aware of this and could look to delay the process so that you then become ‘out of time’ to make a claim against them.

PLEASE NOTE: The 3 month (less 1 day) time limit starts from the date of the matter in question, i.e the detriment suffered, resignation or dismissal. NOT the date of appeal.

Before beginning to write your letter, you should check your staff handbook. This will set out the procedure you will be expected to follow by your employer.

Ordinarily, your employer will have set out a time frame of 5 working days to lodge your appeal, and the person who you should send it to should also be highlighted.

What should I put in my letter?

Keep in mind that one of the most important things to remember when constructing your letter – keep it unemotional and stick to the facts. In doing so, you need to clearly set out why you see the disciplinary or grievance procedure outcome is not fair in your view and why you therefore wish to appeal that decision.

In your letter you should set out what action you believe your employer needs to take. This could be a recommendation to investigate further or look into new evidence you have to support your position. It is essential that you avoid being rude or aggressive. At all times throughout this process it will benefit you to come across as a reasonable individual.

Put your appeal letter together in such a way as it forms the basis of your subsequent appeal hearing.

The appeal letter templates below may help you:

Will my appeal hearing be different from the original hearing?

In essence no, with one exception.

As previously, once they receive your appeal letter, you will be notified in writing that your appeal hearing has been scheduled by your employer.

However, the individual hearing your appeal should be different from your original hearing and be totally impartial.

Any concerns you may have about the individual appointed to hear your appeal should be raised in writing without delay, so that your employer has the opportunity to find an alternative member of staff.

If you happen to work within a very small company it may not always be possible to find individuals to hear your appeal. In these cases you should consider requesting that your employer use the services of a 3rd party, such as an HR company.


Much like your original disciplinary/grievance hearing, there will some things to keep in mind:

  • Well in advance of the meeting ensure you have provided all relevant information/evidence to the individual hearing your appeal
  • Any additional information/evidence you want to see should be requested in advance, and in writing
  • You have the right to have a witness at your appeal (Not to make your case! They are there to accurately record what is discussed)

Be sure to remain calm at your appeal hearing. Conducting yourself in a reasonable and cooperative way will be taken into account should you later find yourself being judged at Employment Tribunal.

Just as you will have experienced at the conclusion of your original hearing, once the appeal hearing is over you can expect your employer to suggest they need time to consider their finding. You should then typically receive the meeting minutes.

Be sure to carefully review these and, as before, if you feel anything is missing politely make your employer aware of this in writing.

In reaching their final decision, your employer may choose to upholding the original decision dismiss it or partially upholding it.

The appeal chairperson’s decision is final

You now have to accept that if you do not agree with the outcome decision there are no further options you can pursue internally. At this point you will either have to accept their decision or resign if you feel that is the only course of action left open to you.

If you find yourself dismissed (for example, as a result of a disciplinary outcome) because of your employer’s final decision, you could consider advancing a claim for unfair dismissal at Employment Tribunal. Before taking any action you might find my article ‘5 valuable insights into unfair dismissal UK law‘ useful.

If your appeal has been overturned, and you want some sound legal advice on what your best options are moving forward, you can call me for a quick 10 minute telephone consultation.

If you want to pursue a claim at tribunal

We can provide an initial assessment of the strength of your case. If we believe you have a viable case to pursue we may be able to represent you on a no win no fee basis. Our no win no fee policy has helped many employees like you get the justice they deserve.

Call one of our approachable team today on 0800 014 8727 or 020 3923 0888. Alternatively, you may prefer to submit your information to us 24/7 by using our online enquiry form. In either case, once we have assessed your case, we will respond to you within 48 hours by phone, email or text.