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Are your procedures in place?

A recent claim in the Employment Appeal Tribunal highlighted the need for businesses to ensure that they have the correct procedure in place for carrying out redundancies and that the procedure is properly followed.

Mr. Thomas had been working for BNP Paribas since 1972. In 2004, he became a director. Following a business review, Mr. Thomas’ position was identified as being at risk of redundancy. However, he was placed in a pool of one, was put immediately on paid leave and ordered not to make contact with any clients or company employees.

On the next day, he was called in for a formal consultation and whilst he identified a possible alternative role in the business, he was told that the role had been filled. He then received a letter where the company insensitively got his name wrong and after a final consultation he was made redundant. His internal appeal against the redundancy failed.

Mr. Thomas brought claims to the Employment Tribunal for age discrimination (he was 59) and unfair dismissal. He claimed that the consultation process was bogus and the reason for his redundancy was his age. The Tribunal agreed that the consultation process had been poorly handled and lacking in sensitivity but that it was a genuine redundancy and so the claims failed.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal however overruled the decision and found that the Tribunal decision was “troubling”. They were particularly concerned that after forty years of service the company had failed to spell Mr. Thomas’ name correctly.

So, the lesson to be learnt is that if your business has a redundancy situation, it must follow a reasonable procedure, carried out sensitively and ensure that the correct protocol is in place. Jobs become redundant, not people and so redundancy is not the answer if a business wants to rid itself of a troublesome or expensive employee. Also, the consultation process should be carried out properly and alternative employment should be explored before any employee is let go.

If you need help or assistance in a redundancy situation contact SNS Solicitors on 01622 238 850 and we will be pleased to help.

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