Addleshaw Goddard

UK 200 2013 position: 23

HR grievance outcome letter concerning pay grades was contractually binding

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has held that a grievance outcome letter sent from an HR officer was capable of binding the employer to a new pay grade. It was not necessary for the employees to have formally accepted the pay grade offer in the grievance outcome letter. Provided there is no downside for the employees, an offer of a positive term is deemed to be accepted merely by the employee continuing to work (Hershaw and others v Sheffield City Council).

The claimants were a group of market patrol officers employed by Sheffield City Council. The claimants disputed their pay and grading awards following a review carried out by the council. In March 2011, the claimants appealed the pay review decision but the outcome of the appeal was not communicated to them and no change was made to their pay. 

The claimants went on to raise a grievance complaining about the failure to provide them with a response to their appeal. The council appointed an HR officer to investigate the grievance and communicate the outcome to them. However, she did not have authority to make any decision about their rate of pay. In October 2011, the HR officer wrote to the claimants stating that the appeal panel had decided that they would be re-graded and placed on to pay grade 5 (they had originally been placed on to pay grade 3). In January 2012, a further letter was sent to the claimants confirming their new rate of pay…

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