As most employers will know, there is an obligation to
comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on grievance and disciplinary
procedures. A failure to comply with the
Code may result in a Tribunal awarding an uplift in compensation of up to 25%.
When it comes to grievances being raised by employees, it is
not always easy for an employer to recognise that a grievance has been raised,
especially if it has been raised orally.
The Code states that grievances ‘should’ be raised in writing, which
suggests that it is not compulsory. It
will therefore come as a relief for employers that the Employment Appeal Tribunal
(EAT) has ruled that an employer’s obligation to comply with the Code only
applies where a grievance has been raised in writing, as employers need to
understand that a grievance has been raised.
In the case in question, Cadogan Hotel Partners Ltd v Ozog,
the employer had failed to investigate an employee’s allegation of sexual
harassment and there could not have been much doubt as to the fact a grievance
was being raised. The EAT however, ruled
that as the grievance had not been raised in writing the Code did not apply and
no uplift could be awarded.
Employees should therefore ensure that they raise grievances
in writing so make sure that the employers obligation to follow the Code is
triggered and they do not risk losing potential future compensation as a result
of their own failure.