Managing redundancies is often a grim task for any organisation. But given the sensitivities involved, it’s vital the process is handled in the right way.
In one recent case, the manner in which an employee was treated during his dismissal procedure could end up costing his former company a hefty sum.
The property management company where the man had worked for more than 40 years took the view there were too many senior managers in his department and identified him as being at risk of redundancy. He was immediately placed on paid gardening leave and told that he should not contact clients or colleagues. His shock and hurt at being made redundant was compounded when the company sent him a letter addressed to ‘Paul’, despite his name being Peter.
He lodged an unfair dismissal complaint with an Employment Tribunal (ET), arguing that the consultation process leading up to his redundancy had been a sham and its result predetermined.
Although the company argued that there had been no suitable alternative vacancies that the man could have filled, the ET was highly critical of the way in which the matter had been handled. However, it went on to reject his claim on the basis that the consultation process had been reasonable.
However, his compensation hopes have been boosted thanks to a powerfully worded decision by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT). In upholding the man’s appeal, the EAT said it was troubled by the apparent contradiction in the ET’s reasoning. It was difficult to see how the consultation process could have been perfunctory and insensitive whilst at the same time being reasonable. The man’s claim was sent back to a freshly constituted ET for rehearing.
How can our employment law solicitors help?
Understanding employment law is crucial for any business. Whilst the outcome of this case is still undecided, it sounds like the process was unfair. If there was a lack of consultation, or consideration of other senior managers who should also have been put at risk, or any hint of pre-determination of the decision, that will usually lead to a finding of unfair dismissal. This could lead to an unnecessary compensation payment and significant legal fees in defending the claim and the appeal, all of which could have been avoided if the redundancy situation had been handled properly.
Our specialist Suffolk solicitors, based in Ipswich, Melton, Hadleigh, Felixstowe and Woodbridge, act for businesses large and small in Suffolk, Essex and further afield. If you are thinking about making redundancies, we can guide you to where you need to be with a minimum of fuss and expense.
To find out more, contact our Employment Solicitors on 01473 298126.