+353 (0) 1 211 8434 - info@aocsolicitors.ie -

- News

- News

Transparency and Employee’s Input Essential In A Redundancy Process

Facts: This case of Grainne O’Hara v Zeus Packaging Limited was an appeal from the recommendation of the Adjudicator that the Complainant should be awarded €10,000 to compensate for her financial loss upon being unfairly dismissed due to an unfair selection process. 

The Complainant had been a Business Development Executive and Sales Manager with the Respondent since May 2017. When the Covid-19 Pandemic arrived in Ireland in March 2020, the Respondent was placed on temporary lay-off along with a number of other workers in the Respondent.  On 1st May 2020 she was informed that her lay off would be extended, and on 18th May she was told that there would be changes to her role.   The Respondent then asked her to return her company car on 27th May 2020. The Complainant was informed via phone and letter on 26th June 2020 that her role was at risk of being made redundant. She was informed on 10th July 2020 that she was being made redundant.   During this conversation on 10th July, the Complainant requested information on how she was selected for redundancy.  The Respondent confirmed that a matrix was used but did not engage fully with the Complainant when she queried the details of same. The Complainant was eventually given the headings of the matrix but never received her weightings or scores in respect of same.

The Complainant cited a number of cases which in addition to confirming that the selection process must be transparent and fair, confirm that when a Matrix is used the worker “should be told it is used and given an opportunity to input into same”.  It was confirmed in evidence in this case that the Complainant was not given such an opportunity. The Respondent was also unsure in evidence as to when the matrix was created and the level of reliance on the matrix.

Further, the Complainant was never afforded an opportunity to properly engage with the decision makers and suggest alternative roles.   The Respondent conceded that it never consulted the Complainant in relation to her skill set, nor did they look at her CV but rather, they relied on the skills she had used within her role with the Respondent.

The Complainant secured employment at a lower rate of pay in September 2021 and calculated her financial loss to the date of her submissions as being €40,318 with an ongoing loss of about €50 a week net.

Decision: The Labour Court highlighted that the burden of proof is on the Respondent to show that the dismissal was fair.  In this case, there was a clear lack of clarity evidence in respect of the matrix and its application. The Labour Court commented on the oral evidence in which the Respondent confirmed that the staff were not told in advance that a matrix was being used and that the staff were not given an opportunity to input into the matrix or engage with the person who was to apply the matrix. It was also not disputed that the Complainant was never given her scores from the matrix before she was made redundant. The Labour Court was not impressed that there was no documentation submitted to it in respect of the matrix. It found that no serious or worthwhile consultation took place with the Complainant prior to the decision to make her redundant. It held that the process used was not clear and transparent.

The Labour Court were also critical of the Respondent for not engaging with the Complainant about her skillset or even referring to her CV to determine what skills she had, when considering her suitability for alternative roles. The Labour Court held that this failure meant that no substantial consideration was given to alternatives to dismissing the Complainant by way of redundancy.  In the circumstances, the Court determined that the redundancy process was not fair and increased the Complainant’s award to €34,000, having taken into account the statutory redundancy payment received by the Complainant.

Takeaway for the Employers: In every redundancy situation, employers must prove that a meaningful consultation with the employee took place. This must include proving that the employee’s input was sought before any decisions are made. Transparency and employee’s input is vital when using a matrix as part of a selection process and this must be done prior to any decision being made in relation to selection for redundancy. This decision also puts an additional onus on employers to review the employees CVs and consult with them in respect of their skillsets they  may possess outside those which were required for the role that is ‘at risk’ of redundancy, when considering alternative roles.

Link  – https://www.workplacerelations.ie/en/cases/2022/december/udd2269.html

Authors – Anne O’Connell, Nicola MacCarthy

31st January 2023

Anne O’Connell Solicitors

19-22 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2


If you found this article useful you might like our employment law newsletter. We write monthly articles, like this, covering interesting cases, decisions, news and developments in Ireland.

Related Articles