Redundancy and Business Reorganisations

The threat of losing one’s job through a redundancy and business reorganisation is a worrying time for individuals. In most cases, an employer’s right to reorganise its business is not questioned, as it is generally accepted organisations need to continually change, the result of which can lead to a reduction in headcount, changes in roles and terms and conditions.

Pools and Selection Criteria

The most common cause for complaint by employees involves unfair selection, or in circumstances whereby they believe the employer has an underlying motive for making them redundant. In other words, the redundancy is cover in circumstances where there is not a legitimate business case to dismiss fairly.

Assuming there are legitimate reasons for making redundancies then employers have a wide discretion both to define the pool for redundancy, and thereafter determine any selection criteria.

Furthermore, in a competitive scoring exercise, it is not easy for employees to challenge a poor score, and Employment Tribunals are reluctant to get into the detail of the scoring methodology. This can leave little scope to challenge the redundancy process unless there is tangible evidence that it was manifestly unfair.

Aggrieved employees can also find it difficult to obtain underlying company documentation which might support their suspicions. Often it is not until Employment Tribunal proceedings have commenced that a clearer picture of what happened behind the scenes will begin to emerge.

Business reorganisations whereby an individual’s role is not necessarily being deleted (but fragmented among other colleagues instead) often results in the same sorts of problems.

Competitive Interviews

Having to engage in a competitive interview process with colleagues (e.g. three roles going down to two) can be daunting when one is faced with the prospect of being in open competition with them. Again, it is an area where employers have plenty of scope to choose their preferred candidate, and it’s accepted that a degree of subjectivity will inevitably be involved in the employer’s decision-making process.

Taking advice

Individuals who may be subject to a redundancy process can benefit from some early strategic legal advice. By doing so it will help them to understand what to look out for, what information to request, and the timing of when to challenge their employer if they sense manifest unfairness in the process.

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