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Challenging an unfair redundancy dismissal

Published 10 May 2023

When Sabrina’s employer announced a fresh round of job cuts she understandably feared the worst - and she was right to do so.

Sabrina was made redundant from her role at an engineering machine shop following a redundancy consultation process.

With help and support from our representative the decision to dismiss Sabrina from the role she had held for 10 years, was later resolved in a manner she was delighted with.

The spectre of redundancy had loomed large for Sabrina for a considerable period of time following the pandemic.

Financial pressures, restructuring of operations and a reduction in staff numbers by her employer meant Sabrina feared for some time it was a matter of when, and not if it would be her turn.

Sabrina had seen a number of ex-colleagues left devastated after losing their jobs, and she was aware of at least one who unsuccessfully made an employment tribunal claim for unfair dismissal.

So, when eventually informed she was being made redundant, Sabrina initially felt she had no choice but to accept the statutory redundancy payment offered to her.

It was her dad who advised her to contact our Employee Support Centre because he was convinced his daughter had been treated unfairly.

When Sabrina spoke to our representative she explained the process that led to her dismissal.

Sabrina said that despite her employer taking drastic steps to manage the difficulties caused after the pandemic, it had announced further redundancies as a result of ongoing financial difficulties.

Sabrina, who had previously kept her job based on the redundancy selection criteria used, was this time informed her role was identified as redundant.

Subsequently she was invited to a consultation meeting. The meeting was recorded with the consent of all parties.

It was recorded as a reasonable adjustment because Sabrina is dyslexic. Having an accurate record of the meeting would prove extremely helpful.

Our representative listened to the recording. The employer explained the reason for its decision and Sabrina expressed her concerns about the process. She also made a number of good suggestions regarding alternative roles and about how she believed the situation could be avoided.

The employer was dismissive of all suggestions. It effectively said there was nothing it could do, it was unfortunate, Sabrina should accept it and she should focus on looking for a new job.

Sabrina’s redundancy was confirmed after just one consultation meeting.

She submitted an appeal against dismissal on the grounds the decision and process were both unfair.

Our representative discussed with Sabrina what outcome she wanted to the appeal.

She said she had known for a long time the writing was on the wall, but she had been in denial.

Sabrina at that stage understood she had a case to claim unfair dismissal, but rather than go through the legal process she preferred to reach a settlement agreement.

At the appeal hearing our representative highlighted several key areas where the employer had failed to follow proper procedures.

This included no meaningful consultation taking place, which it was explained and highlighted was captured in the recording of the meeting.

Also used in support of the appeal was that no reasonable consideration was ever given to alternative roles Sabrina could do despite the fact she was multi-skilled and had previously worked in many different departments and teams. 

It was also pointed out that Sabrina’s suggestion during the consultation meeting to reduce her hours, which was something the employer had done for other employees, was unfairly rejected.

Our representative argued the decision and failure to follow a fair process did mean Sabrina would have a legitimate claim for unfair dismissal.

The employer insisted the process was fair and it was unfortunate that Sabrina was made redundant, but there was no other viable alternative.

However, a settlement agreement was discussed, negotiated and later agreed.

Sabrina was delighted with the settlement. In between signing the agreement and waiting for the payment, she secured herself a new job.

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For employment law advice or if you are affected or want information and support by any of the issues in this article please give us a call. 

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