We have the first EAT decision concerning the contents of statutory grievance letters under the Employment Act 2002.
The EAT (HHJ Peter Clark sitting alone) holds:
- the intention of the employee is irrelevant - it matters not whether the employee did (or did not) intend to raise a grievance within the body of the letter (para 22)
- likewise, the terms of any contractual grievance procedure are irrelevant - an employee does not have to comply with a contractual grievance procedure for a letter to amount to a valid stautory grievance (para 24)
- most importantly, practitioners and tribunals must always bear in mind that it is necessary to decide whether the standard or modified grievance procedures apply. That is because a standard procedure grievance letter requires the employee to "set out the grievance in writing", whereas a modified procedure grievance letter also requires the employee to set out "the basis for" the grievance, i.e. the grounds of the grievance as well as an outline of the grievance itself. This may make a difference as to whether the letter complies with the technical requirements of a grievance letter (paras. 25-26 and 21)