Collective Grievance

Employment Law – Collective Grievance – Trade Unions – Legislative Requirements

In the case of Highland Council v TGWU and Others [2008], the Employment Appeals Tribunal (“EAT”) decided that letters written by the claimants' trade unions to the employer were not deemed collective grievances under regulation 9 of the Employment Act 2002 (Dispute Resolution) Regulations 2004.

The letters complained of a number of ongoing equal pay issues, as well as the failure by the employer to implement the Single Status Agreement.

The letters were not considered to be collective grievances due to the fact that they did not name any of the claimants. Furthermore, it was held that the letters were not grievance letters under the Standard Grievance Procedure, as they were not concerned with  any action of the employer directed at the claimants. In addition, the letters had not been sent by the claimants, but rather the unions.

The EAT held that there was no compelling evidence that the unions in question were acting in anything other than a "collective" capacity, instead of being agents for all or any of the individual claimants in this case.

This meant that the claimants' equal pay claims were deemed to be inadmissible under s.32 of the Employment Act 2002. Even though the EAT has previously indicated that tribunals should not take an unduly technical approach to the issue of admissibility under s.32, this case does make it clear that any representative of a claimant must be sure that the statutory requirements are adhered to.

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© RT COOPERS, 2008. This Briefing Note does not provide a comprehensive or complete statement of the law relating to the issues discussed nor does it constitute legal advice. It is intended only to highlight general issues. Specialist legal advice should always be sought in relation to particular circumstances.


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