Sunday, 8th December 2019

Redundancy

Employment Appeals Tribunal Awards €8,500 to Former Employee

Unfair Selection for Redundancy Claim succeeds leading the Employment Appeals Tribunal to award €8,500 in compensation. After hearing statements from the former employee (the claimant) and the respondent (a car dealership), the Tribunal was satisfied that a redundancy situation existed, however, the Tribunal concluded that the process was defective and, therefore, determined that the claimant was entitled to a significant award.

 

Employment Legislation

 

The respondent failed to consult the claimant about his redundancy and did not appear to properly consider alternatives before finalising the decision to make the employee redundant – For instance, the employee could have suggested that he work a shorter working week/reduced hours or that he take a reduction in pay. The respondent is obliged to consider these suggestions over a period of consultation, however, the claimant was not afforded this entitlement and was only told the reasons behind the decision to select him for redundancy after asking for these.

 

Redundancy

 

 

The Tribunal found that the claim under the Unfair Dismissals Acts, 1977 to 2007 was justified which is why the claimant walked away with €8,500. This sum was in addition to the redundancy lump sum that he had received when the redundancy first occurred.

 

 

Details of this case can be found on the Workplace Relations Website (Case No. UD450/2012) - http://www.workplacerelations.ie/en/Cases/2013/November/UD450_2012.html

 

This case stresses the importance of following the approved procedures when it comes to redundancy. Not only do you have to prove that a redundancy is required in order to keep the business viable – you must also be able to justify why you made one employee redundant over another.

 

The employer must be able to show that the redundancy process was not flawed. Employers should use a Selection Matrix so he or she cannot be accused of subjectivity (which is what the employee claimed in the above-mentioned case). The employer is obliged to invite the employee to a meeting making them aware that it concerns redundancy. Employers are obliged to give the employee notice of the redundancy and the reasons why the redundancy scenario came about along with why they were selected.

 

 

Redundancy

The employer should have asked the employee in question if they could think of any alternatives to the redundancy and the employer should have allowed for a period of consultation of at least three days before making their final decision. It is also important to allow employees to be accompanied to meetings like this.

 

Redundancy Procedures

 

 

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The Redundancy Process Explained

Without a doubt redundancies can be required to keep a business viable. Employers need to ensure that they make their decisions based on what is best for the business -
not because they want to get rid of Danny the storeman who they feel hasn't done a tap for years.

Before making people redundant, Employers must look at the overall business and see what areas are suffering a downturn, what areas are picking up, and how best they can react to changed circumstances.

Redundancy

A Selection Matrix will help to clarify the Employee strength and weaknesses and take the personalities out of the decision - and also ensure that no-one can accuse the Employer of
using redundancy simply to remove people the Employer doesn't like from the Company.
As a business owner or manager, the Employer is entitled to make decisions that make business sense. So establishing the logic of any decision before making it is important.

There is a strict redundancy selection process that has to be followed when making job roles redundant. Remember that it is the role that is made redundant rather than the Employee – One cannot make an Employee redundant and then hire a replacement in their role the next day.

Proving that a redundancy was necessary is essential and if the correct process is not followed then this could be very costly for the Company and Labour Court action could follow.

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When making an Employee redundant, you should:

*Invite the Employee in question to a meeting, making them aware of what it is about e.g. the closure of the business/need to downsize etc.

*This meeting should be to inform the Employee that they have been selected for redundancy, or, in other words, it is giving them their notice of redundancy. The Employer should make the Employee aware of the reason(s) for this selection etc. at this stage.

*At the meeting, the Employer should ask the Employee to think about alternatives to this redundancy and these options can be discussed at the second meeting to explore whether any of these alternatives are viable options to save this Employee’s job. The Employee may request a pay cut, to be laid off for a period of time, reduced working hours etc., (all of the options
mentioned should have already been ruled out by the Company in coming to the decision of making a position redundant). If there is a potential transfer situation, this may arise as an alternative to the redundancy.

*The Employer should end the meeting by telling the Employee that he/she will be meeting with them again. The next meeting should be scheduled more than 3 days from the first meeting as the Employer should have ample time to consider all suggestions or alternatives to redundancy that the Employee presents.

*The period between the first and second meeting is known as the 'period of consultation'. It
will be at this second meeting that the Employer will discuss any alternatives to redundancy that the Employee suggests. If none of the suggestions are feasible for the Company the Employer will explain the reasons why they are not feasible. At that point, the Employer will go through the terms of the redundancy i.e. what payment the Employee will receive. In advance of this meeting the Employee should be made aware of their entitlement to bring a representative with them – for instance, the employee could bring a colleague or some other person who has an in-depth knowledge of the Company.

 

Redundancy*The Employer should tell the Employee that, prior to the meeting, he or she should inform the Company if they intend to bring a representative and, if so, who this will be. This is in case the Employee decides to bring:

a) A Solicitor:
The Employee is entitled to bring a solicitor if they wish (if they do, the Employer too will need to bring a solicitor). The solicitor will not be able to speak on behalf of the Employee, but will be entitled to ask questions on behalf of the Employee.

b) A Trade Union Representative:  If the Company does not engage with/negotiate with Trade Unions, the Employer will have to make the Employee aware that they will only recognise this person in a personal capacity, that they do not have a collective agreement with any Trade Union and that they have not, nor will not ever recognise a Trade Union. The Employer should ensure that this is clear to the Employee.

 

*The use of the RP50 hardcopy form is not in place any longer and as there is no longer any Employer rebate, there is no requirement to lodge the RP50 with the Department of Social Protection. However, in line with best practice, it is recommended that the RP50 form is completed online through the following link: https://www.welfare.ie/en/Pages/secure/RedundancyForm.aspx and printed so that the Employee is signing something to confirm they are receiving their payment from the Company.

*If the Company is not in a position to cover the cost of these redundancies, the Employee can claim their redundancy entitlements through the Social Insurance Fund, however, the Company does need to prove its inability to pay the redundancy amounts to the Department of Social Protection. In this case, the Employee will need the RP50 to claim his/her own redundancy payments.

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How to avoid an unfair dismissal claim when making someone redundant

Redundancy is a minefield if you take chances. You must remember that employees now know their rights better than ever before. They have lived through a time when friends, family and work colleagues have been laid off - there is also a lot of information readily available for them online.

Redundancy, Avoiding Unfair Dismissal

Employees have picked up a great deal of information about their rights. We say to Employers "your employees know their rights - do you?" Some businesses are now facing into a second phase of redundancies. In that instance, you can be guaranteed that staff know their entitlements even better than they did for the first phase. If you don't follow process, or if you make a false move, it could cost you - you could quite easily end up in the Labour Courts with an Unfair Dismissal case on your hands.

Unfair Dismissal cases are very common these days and they are very difficult for employers to win as the onus is on the employer to prove that he or she made the correct choices when letting someone go. Proving that a redundancy, for instance, was necessary is essential - making the position, not the person, redundant is crucial - an employer cannot make an employee redundant and then hire a new staff member to carry out the same tasks the following week. Commissioners will scrutinize every detail and decision and will want to see that the employer has dotted every "I" and crossed every "T".

Employers have a 50/50 chance of leaving Labour Court hearings with a large figure to pay out - it is important to remember that a huge number of cases are also settled prior to court proceedings so the odds are heavily stacked against the employer coming away from the Court with no fine on their hands.

Unfair Dismissal, Labour Court, Redundancy

Without a doubt redundancies can be required to keep a business viable. Employers need to ensure that they make their decisions based on what's best for the business - not because they want to get rid of Danny the storeman who you feel hasn't done a tap for years. Before making people redundant, look at the business overall and see what areas are suffering a downturn, what areas are picking up, and how best you should react to changed circumstances.

A Selection Matrix will help to clarify your thoughts and take the personalities out of the decision - and also ensure that no-one can accuse you of using redundancy simply to remove people you don't like from your company. As a business owner or manager, you are entitled to make decisions that make business sense. So establish the logic of any decision before you make it.

Read More »