Wednesday 9 July 2003

Statutory Dispute Resolution

The DTI has published the first draft of Regulations on the forthcoming mandatory disciplinary and grievance procedures introduced by the Employment Act 2002. They are due to come into force on 1st October 2004.

For a summary of the relevant provisions of the Act, see 'Compulsory Dispute Resolution' [2002] 9 ELA Briefing 139.

The consultation document and draft Regulations are available at

The draft Regulations make fairly horrendous reading, and seem to complicate rather than simplify disciplinary and grievance procedures for employers and employees.. A very loose summary (as they are full of conditions, exceptions and caveats) is:

• the short-form 'modified procedure' for disciplinary proceedings will apply if (a) the employee is guilty of gross misconduct (note: as presently drafted, reasonable grounds for belief in gross misconduct is insufficient - there has to have been actual gross misconduct), or (b) the dismissal is for reasons beyond the employer's control (I suspect this means pressure from third parties to dismiss);
• the short-form 'modified procedure' for grievance hearings will apply if the employment has terminated and both parties agree in writing to follow the modified procedure rather than the standard procedure;
• the disciplinary and grievance procedures do not apply if one party believes compliance would result in a significant threat to person or property, or if one party to the employment contract has been harassing the other (note: this rather drives a coach and horses through the requirement to use the grievance procedure in cases of s#ex, race or disability harassment, although there have been arguments raised that this exception is necessary to comply with EU laws);
• importantly, if any party fails to comply with a step in the procedure, it discharges the other party from continuing with the procedures. There is an exception where the employee has failed to attend a meeting for a reason which was not foreseen when the meeting was arranged;
• an extension of time for presentation of claims to the tribunal, by up to three months, when certain going through certain statutory procedures.

Responses to the consultation paper are due by 29th October 2003. I reproduce below the executive summary from the beginning of the consultation document, and the questions for consultation.

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