W A Goold (Pearmak) Ltd v McConnell (EAT 28 Apr 1995)

It is an implied term in the contract of employment that the employers will reasonably and promptly give employees an opportunity to present their grievance, and act on it, in a reasonable way.

Case facts

Two salesmen whose commission-based pay was affected by new sales methods attempted to address the matter with their employer but their grievances were ignored.


Conclusion for me

It is an implied term in the contract of employment that the employers will reasonably and promptly give employees an opportunity to present their grievance, and act on it, in a reasonable way.

Employers also have a duty to comply with written grievance procedures (if these are contractual in nature) and any failure to do so could be interpreted to be a breach of an express term of the contract.

A constructive dismissal claim might be justified (depending on other issues) if any of these points occur:

  1. An employer fails to reasonably adhere to the terms of a written grievance procedure
  2. An employer fails to deal with a grievance at all or in an unreasonably late manner
  3. An employer produces an unreasonable outcome to an employee’s grievance
  4. An employer fails to allow the employee to appeal against a grievance outcome

Similar cases

  • Bracebridge Engineering Limited v Darby (EAT 1990) The Court confirmed grievances need to be taken seriously. Not considering grievances, or following a proper process, might be a valid reason for claiming constructive dismissal.
  • Wigan Borough Council v Davies (1979 ICR 411) An implied term in an employment contract is that the employer will provide reasonable support to ensure that an employee can carry out his/her job without harassment or disruption by fellow workers.
  • Spink v Express Foods Limited (EAT 1990) An employee should know the case against them. You should hear or be told the important parts of the evidence; you should have the opportunity to criticise or dispute it and the opportunity to present your own evidence and argue your case.
Updated: 3rd May, 2021
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