The Court of Session agreed with the EAT in Cannop & others v The Highland Council that there must be essential correlation between an employee’s grievance and the claim form in equal pay cases. The issue before the EAT had been whether the tribunal erred in concluding that it was sufficient that the grievance ‘related’ to the subsequent claim and in not addressing the issue as to whether the relationship between claim and grievance was sufficiently close. The EAT overturned the tribunal’s decision, stating that on the tribunal’s reasoning, it would be enough at grievance stage for an employee to state that she had a complaint about equal pay, an approach which was not supported by the authorities. The employer would not be able to understand the nature of the grievance prior to the start of proceedings. The Court of Session upheld the EAT’s decision stating that the Dispute Regulations were there to encourage the resolution of employee grievances by requiring a stepped procedure before a complaint was presented to tribunal. Whilst an unduly technical approach is inappropriate and the grievance document and tribunal form are designed to perform different functions, the claim presented to tribunal must essentially be the same grievance as was earlier communicated.
Whilst this decision relates to equal pay claims, it is sensible for employees to follow the same approach with all grievances. Grievances should be properly particularised (see Clyde Valley v McAuley [Briefing 6]) and any subsequent claim should in essence be the same as that set out in the grievance.