THIS case highlights the importance of a fair redundancy process in which all employees are properly consulted.
BACKGROUND: TEACHERS Ms B and Mr H were informed by their employer, Gwynedd Council, that their school would be closed down and replaced by another school on the same site. All teachers at the original school would have their contracts of employment terminated. A competitive application /interview process would then be carried out to determine who would be recruited to the new teaching positions. They were informed that unsuccessful candidates would either be redeployed elsewhere or made redundant.
Ms B and Mr H applied for positions at the new school but were unsuccessful and were made redundant. They questioned why they were given no opportunity to appeal the decision but were told that the closure of the old school meant no appeal panel could have reversed their dismissals.
Ms B and Mr H made a claim of unfair dismissal which was upheld by an employment tribunal (ET) and subsequently an employment appeal tribunal (EAT). It held that the dismissals were unfair because of the absence of consultation, the manner in which they were required to effectively “apply for their own jobs”, and the failure to provide the teachers with a right of appeal.
OUTCOME: This case highlights the need for a fair redundancy process. All employees must be engaged in a proper consultation process, the duration of which depends on the number of staff members affected. Employers must ensure that a fair selection and scoring process is applied consistently. You should exercise caution in using, for example, absences that may be related to a protected characteristic (age, disability, religion, race/ethnicity, gender, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, pregnancy/maternity or marriage/civil partnership).
Any employee who has more than two years’ service is eligible for statutory redundancy pay but employers do have the option to enhance this.
It is also essential that employees are given paid time off work to look for other roles and you may consider using an Outplacement service to support staff in finding new roles.
If you need to make an employee redundant then please do not hesitate to contact the employment law team on firstname.lastname@example.org. We have a factsheet that covers all the legal requirements as well as helpful template letters.