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Statutory Grievances and Equal Pay Claims revisited

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In three conjoined appeals under the name Arnold & ors v Sandwell MBC, the EAT has revisited the question of what detail is necessary to identify “the complaint” in a grievance concerning the Equal Pay Act 1970.

Departing from the EAT decision in Highland Council v TGWU, Elias P held that the information in a grievance can be minimal and need state no more than that the claim is a claim under the Equal Pay Act 1970. Elias P reasoned as follows:

  • it is implicit in an Equal Pay Act grievance that the complaint is that a comparable employee man doing equal work is receiving more than she is and ought not to be
  • a restrictive construction of “the grievance” may deny Claimants (often litigants in person) an opportunity to bring their claims, an outcome wholly inconsistent with the objective of the Dispute Regulations
  • once notified of the grievance, an employer can initiate further discussion to find out more about the complaint
  • even if the bare statement of grievance suffices, a Claimant who provides no more will be subject to a sanction at any remedy stage. This was a significant consideration in Elias P’s reasoning and such that, in part, persuaded him to depart from the Highland Council decision (para. 65/75).

We are now faced with two conflicting EAT decisions on the proper construction of the Dispute Regulations, a predicament that influenced Elias P in granting the employers permission to appeal.

[Thanks to Sian Reeves, pupil barrister at 1 Temple Gardens, for summarising this case]