While the Gibbons Review marks the beginning of the end for the statutory dispute resolution procedures, the procedures’ demise will be a slow process and we expect them to remain in place until at least 2009. As such, employers need to keep informed of the ever growing body of case law concerning the procedures.
Employer’s note fulfils Step 1 of the statutory grievance procedure
Under Step 1, the employee is obliged to send a statement of grievance in writing to his employer. A fundamental question that continues to arise is what actually constitutes a “grievance in writing by the employee”. The statutory requirement is simply that the grievance should be in writing. But has an employee complied with Step 1 where he presents his complaint at a meeting with his line manager and the line manager notes it down contemporaneously?
In Kennedy Scott Ltd v Francis, the EAT said YES.
Whether Step 1 has been complied with will always depend on the facts of the case. However, the focus is on substance, not technicality. Step 1 does not go so far as to require the employee to personally physically write the statement that is submitted to their employer.
In this case, the note which served as a written statement of grievance was produced with the intention of providing a document that would evidence the employee’s grievance. Employers should be aware that if the means they use to investigate employees’ complaints involve an initial meeting at which notes are taken, that these notes may signal compliance with Step 1 of the SGP.