HR & Employment · 8 August 2021

How to write a formal complaint letter to HR

How to write a formal complaint letter to HR

If you find yourself in a situation at work where writing a formal complaint letter to HR is the most appropriate course of action then you should follow the simple tips outlined below to ensure it is professional, well received and that appropriate action is more likely to be taken:

  • Use a formal letter template
  • Clearly explain the issue you are complaining about and how it has affected you
  • Be specific and where relevant include evidence with time and dates of the complaint in question
  • Include the resolution you would like to see
  • Sign off appropriately
  • Ensure the letter is addressed, sent to and seen by the right person:
    • Deliver it by hand
    • Request a read receipt if sending by email
    • Pay for ‘signed for’ services if sending via post
With everything from shopping, banking and applying to jobs being completed by checking boxes and pressing buttons online these days, the art of writing a formal letter may be a long-forgotten skill for most people. If the need arises to get formal with your communication when you have a complaint regarding an event or situation in your workplace, then a well put together and professional letter can really help you to get your point across and give you the best chance of getting the resolution that you want.

What To Include

What to include in complaint letter

When writing a complaint letter, be it by hand or on the computer, you should stick to the following basic template of what to include. Formatting of the letter is also important and should follow the standard approach for letters with your name and address in the top right hand corner, the recipient’s name and address in the top left hand corner, with the date on the line above the salutation line.

  • Include your contact details and position in the workplace
  • Explain why you are writing including what has happened and who was involved
  • Include evidence or attachments to support your letter where applicable
  • State how you would like the matter handled
  • Use an appropriate sign off

Contact details

Always include your full name, position held at the company, the best telephone number to reach you on and your email address. You may prefer to include your personal contact telephone number, address and email if you want the complaint dealt with privately away from business email.

Explain Your Complaint

You should open your letter by introducing yourself, explaining where you work in the organisation and outlining why you are writing the letter.


My name is [your name] and I work as a [job title] in the [your department] department. I am writing to file a formal complaint about something that has recently happened at work.  

You should then go on to outline the event or situation in question providing as much detail as possible in terms of what happened, when it happened and who was involved. As well as sharing the specific facts of the event, this is also the time to explain how this made you feel.

Supporting Documents

When explaining the specifics of your complaint, it can sometimes be a good idea to include evidence that back up the point you are making. For example, you may have images from the event that could be included, you may have notes that you have written recording ongoing discussion or an account of the event in the immediate aftermath that you can share. If you have had to receive medical attention or have experienced financial loss as a result of the situation you are complaining about, evidence of this can also be included in the supporting documents.

Outline Your Preferred Outcome

It is often easier for HR departments to support you in handling complaints if you can give them an idea of the outcome you would like to see. This can include specifications on the privacy of the matter, how you would like any future discussions to be held, what actions you would expect to see as a result of your complaint along with the time-frame.


I would appreciate it if you would keep the matters raised in this letter private and confidential and only notify those that are directly involved with the incident or its resolution of its contents. If you do need to share the information held within this letter further, please notify me first. 

I hope that upon receipt of this letter and accompanying documents that you will be able to address the situation immediately and can swiftly put in place [insert any appropriate actions] to prevent it occurring again. 

Signing Off The Letter