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May 2008 Updates

The future of the statutory dispute resolution procedures

The Government has commenced its second round of consultation on the future of the current statutory dispute resolution framework (which contains statutory disciplinary, grievance and dismissal procedures). The Government wishes to simplify things within an Employment Bill. The Government is considering (a) abolishing the current statutory procedures without replacing with them any new ones, (b) introducing a revised ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinaries and Grievances and (c) giving Employment Tribunals the power to increase or decrease its awards by up to 25 per cent to reflect a party's unreasonable non-compliance with that Code.

What does an employee’s statutory grievance have to contain?

In the case of Clyde Valley Housing Association v McAulay the Employment Appeal Tribunal (“EAT”) issued practical guidance around what an individual has to say in writing in order to have lodged a grievance successfully under the statutory grievance procedures (in this case the modified procedure, the employee already having left employment). The Claimant’s solicitor wrote to her former employer (Clyde Valley) setting out a number of allegations. Clyde Valley wrote back seeking clarification of exactly what it was the Claimant was complaining about. When this was not provided, Clyde Valley concluded that, as a result, they had been unable to address the grievance. The EAT held that, to be valid, a grievance under the statutory (modified) grievance procedure had to "contain the answers to the essential questions that one would expect to arise in a grievance, namely: 'Who? What? Where? When? Why?'". If it failed to do so, it did not constitute a valid statutory grievance. The EAT held in this case that the letter simply made assertions and did not meet these basic requirements. Accordingly, the claim was dismissed (the employee not having lodged a valid statutory grievance before going to Tribunal.)

New fast track procedure for simple Tribunal claims

The Government is proposing to establish a new 'fast track' procedure which would allow Employment Tribunals to decide straightforward monetary claims (such as those relating to holiday pay, national minimum wage, breach of contract, redundancy pay and unlawful deductions from wages) without a hearing in certain circumstances.

Agency Workers - equal treatment

The Government, the TUC and the CBI have agreed a deal which, if implemented, will give agency workers the right to receive equal treatment after 12 weeks of employment. As a general principle, they would have the right to terms and conditions of employment which are comparable to those enjoyed by permanent employees. However, organisations would not have to make the same pension provision for agency workers as they do for permanent staff. It is anticipated that this legislation (which is intended to implement the EC Agency Workers Directive) will come into force later on this year.


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SRA number 404293