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The importance of early consultation with the workforce in redundancy situations

Adrian Fryer

Adrian Fryer

A recent Employment Appeal Tribunal decision reminds employers that it is crucially important that redundancy proposals are shared with the workforce at a formative stage. Failure to do so could make any resulting dismissals unfair. In Joseph de Bank Haycocks v ADP RPO UK Limited, the Claimant and the wider workforce were not consulted about redundancy proposals before pooling and scoring took place. The criteria for selection and the Claimant’s own scores were not provided to him before his dismissal. This information was, however, provided on appeal. The EAT held that the failure to consult at a formative stage meant that the dismissal was unfair. The EAT held that ‘whilst the appeal could correct any missing aspect of the individual consultation process (e.g. the provision of the claimant’s …scores), it could not repair [the] gap of consultation in the formative stage’.

The EAT helpfully took the time to review previous authorities and set out the following guiding principles for fair redundancy consultation:

  • the employer will normally warn and consult either the employees affected or their representative.
  • a fair consultation occurs when proposals are at a formative stage and where the employee is given adequate information and adequate time to respond along with conscientious consideration being given to that response.
  • in consultation, the purpose is to avoid dismissal or reduce the impact of redundancies.
  • a redundancy process must be viewed as a whole and an appeal may correct an earlier failing.
  • it is a question of fact and degree as to whether consultation is adequate and it is not automatically unfair that there is a lack of consultation in a particular respect.
  • any particular aspect of consultation, such as the provision of scoring, is not essential to a fair process.
  • the use of a scoring system does not make a process fair automatically.
  • whether it is reasonable to show an employee the scores of others in a pool will be case-specific.

Employers seeking to carry-out a fair consultation process in a redundancy situation should take account of each of the points above and act appropriately from the very moment that redundancies are contemplated.

Contact our Employment Team.