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Statutory Grievance Procedure

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[Thanks to Alfred Weiss of Zenith Chambers for providing this case summary]

The EAT (Cox J) has handed down its decision in Reddy v Bedfordshire NHS Trust , which is authority for the proposition that the requirement in regulation 9(1)(a) of the Dispute Resolution Regulations 2004 that a person who is an appropriate representative of the employee having the grievance has "written to the employer setting out the grievance" was satisfied where the grievance was not sent directly to the employer but was forwarded on by a third party.

The Claimants' union representative sought to raise a collective grievance regarding equal pay. The union representative sent the grievance by email to Bedfordshire County Council, but in error did not succeed in sending it to the employer (Bedfordshire and Luton Partnership NHS Trust) although she had sought to copy the employer in to the email.

The Council forwarded the grievance to the Trust. The tribunal concluded that regulation 9(1)(a) required the Claimants' representative to send the grievance to the employer, and it was not sufficient that the employer had received the grievance indirectly.

The EAT, stressing the importance of focusing on substance rather than technicality, concluded that the tribunal had erred in requiring that regulation 9(1)(a) demanded that the grievance should have been sent to the employer directly, in circumstances where the employer had in fact received the grievance.