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WRC Reiterates the Requirement for Redundancy to be Impersonal and the Importance of Following a Redundancy Consultation Process and Considering Alternatives

Facts: The Complainant, Gerard Buston, commenced employment with the Respondent, Duggan Systems Limited, as a factory operative on 30th May 2018 and subsequently worked as a line leader from 18th November 2019. In 2020 he was placed on temporary lay-off from 30th March to 10th April. Later that month an altercation took place between the Complainant and his manager. There was a conflict of evidence as to which party was the aggressor. The Complainant was not called for work the following week and he subsequently received a letter from the Managing Director terminating his employment by reason of redundancy. There was redundancy consultation process and no alternatives to redundancy were considered or discussed with the Complainant.

The Complainant claimed that the purported redundancy was a sham and that he was unfairly dismissed as a result of the altercation with his manager. The Respondent argued that it was a genuine redundancy as turnover had reduced to approximately 35% of the company’s pre-Covid turnover during 2020 and as a result it was forced to reduce its workforce and make 10 employees, including the Complainant, redundant.

Decision: The Adjudication Officer referred to Article 6(3) of the Unfair Dismissals Acts and the requirement that employees be selected for redundancy “on the basis of fairness and adherence to an agreed procedure.” She noted that it is “well established that selection for redundancy must be an ‘impersonal’ act and not related to the individual employee.”

The Adjudicator referred to the heated arguments between the Complainant and his manager “immediately prior to the redundancy” and noted that the Complainant had not been called in for work the following week. She further noted that there had been “no consultation, no notice and no alternatives explored with the Complainant which might have avoided a redundancy situation.” The Adjudication Officer concluded that the redundancy was a sham and that the Complainant had been unfairly dismissed. She awarded the Complainant compensation in the amount of €12,660, equivalent to 20 weeks’ gross pay.

Takeaway for the Employers: This decision reiterates that ‘impersonality’ is an essential requirement of a genuine redundancy. Employers should ensure that they can demonstrate that fair procedures are applied in any redundancy selection process and that decisions are in no way connected to any issues relating to an employee’s employment. The decision is also one of a number of recent decisions emphasising the requirement for employers to ensure that they follow a redundancy consultation procedure and that they make genuine efforts to explore alternatives to redundancy.

Link https://www.workplacerelations.ie/en/cases/2022/april/adj-00030023.html

Authors – Anne O’Connell & Chaitra Girish Mallya

03rd May 2022

Anne O’Connell Solicitors

19-22 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2

www.aocsolicitors.ie

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