Complaint vs Grievance: Difference and Comparison

A complaint and a grievance are two different things, though they can be confused or used interchangeably.

A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction made by one person or group towards another individual or organization.

Complaints may relate to issues such as service quality, staff attitude, etc., but they do not necessarily require a formal process to be resolved.

On the other hand, a grievance is a more serious expression of dissatisfaction that requires an organized process to resolve it.

Grievances involve workplace disputes between employees and their employers; they may involve discrimination or salary disparities.

A formal procedure must be followed to address grievances, with the help of external bodies such as trade unions or governmental organizations.

A complaint is a declaration of something that is unsatisfactory or unacceptable and covers everything from the cleanliness of restrooms to job flexibility. A grievance is a formal complaint presented to the management representative made by employees when they think a policy has been violated.

Key Takeaways

  1. A complaint expresses dissatisfaction about a specific issue, while a grievance is a formal complaint about a violation of rights or unjust treatment.
  2. Complaints can be resolved quickly and informally, whereas grievances require a more formal process.
  3. Grievances involve deeper issues related to policies, procedures, or rights, whereas complaints address surface-level concerns.
Complaint vs Grievance

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonComplaintGrievance
DefinitionA complaint can be any charge, accusation, or allegation, either written or oral.A grievance is a type of formal complaint made by an employee due to a violation of legalities.
CausesMay be caused by both minor and major issuesMostly caused by major issues such as violation of legalities
Way it is deliveredIt may be just oral or unwrittenAlways in written form

What is Complaint?

A complaint is a statement made by an individual, group, or organization to express dissatisfaction with an organization, product, service, or action.

It can also be used to claim rights or to seek a remedy for perceived wrongs. Complaints can be lodged through verbal communication, written messages such as emails or letters, and digital forms such as online surveys or social media posts.

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It is important to note that the word “complaint” is commonly used interchangeably with “grievance,” although they are not necessarily synonymous.

A complaint is an initial expression of discontent, whereas a grievance is more formalized and may involve a process to resolve the issue.

When making a complaint, it is important to provide all the relevant information and facts to get the best possible outcome.

This includes providing contact information and a detailed explanation of what happened or why you are unhappy with the product or service.

It is also important to consider if any other parties should be made aware of the issue and to ensure that any relevant documentation or evidence is included in your complaint.

Organizations may have different procedures in place to manage complaints. For example, they may offer a customer service desk where individuals can voice their grievances, or they may provide an online form for customers to submit complaints.

Furthermore, certain industries may have legal requirements concerning complaint handling or response times.

Ultimately, it is important to remember that making a complaint is the only way to get an organization to take action and hopefully resolve the issue. So, if you are unhappy with something, don’t be afraid to speak up and make yourself heard.


What is Grievance?

In many cases, grievances arise from unfair treatment or a lack of rights and opportunities in the workplace. Grievances can take many forms, including wages, salary, job security, working hours, discrimination, and health and safety.

Grievances are handled through a formal process that involves the affected party filing a written complaint or making an oral statement to the person or organization responsible for resolving the grievance.

If this fails to address the issue satisfactorily, other forms of dispute resolution may be necessary, such as mediation, arbitration, or litigating the issue in court.

It is important to note that it is not uncommon for grievances to be escalated and handled by independent third-party organizations such as labor unions.

It is essential that any grievance process is conducted fairly and impartially and that the outcome of the process should be based on facts rather than arbitrary decision-making.

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It is also important that the process be transparent and that those involved have access to information about their rights and obligations under the relevant laws of grievances.

Grievances should only be considered resolved once all parties are satisfied with the outcome of the process.

Grievance processes can be useful in preventing and resolving workplace disputes, but it is important to remember that they should only be used in appropriate circumstances.

Grievances should not be used as harassment or intimidation, and any attempt to do so could potentially result in serious legal repercussions.

Main Differences Between Complaint and Grievance

  1. A complaint is a formal expression of dissatisfaction towards an employer or any organization, whereas a Grievance is an expression of discontent concerning the terms and conditions of employment that requires corrective action from the management.
  2. A complaint can be verbal or non-verbal, while a grievance must be written.
  3. Complexity: Complaints are less complex and can be resolved on the spot, whereas grievances require more investigation and research before they can be solved.
  4. A complaint can be addressed by any employer or supervisor directly, but grievances need a specific procedure to follow for resolution.
  5. A complaint has no legal status, whereas a grievance is legally binding.
  6. Complaints are more of an individualized conflict between two people, while grievances involve a larger group of employees or organizations.
  7.  Complaint resolutions come in the form of apologies and compensation, whereas grievances require changes in policies or structure.
  8. Complaints are notified to the management, but grievances must be communicated by a union, lawyer, or other legal representatives before they can be taken seriously.
Difference Between Complaint and Grievance

Last Updated : 29 July, 2023

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