Ensuring you follow a fair redundancy process

Napthens - February 12th 2019

Lloyds Pharmacy has recently lost a claim for unfair dismissal after making an employee, Ms Waldie, redundant following a review of their operating business model. The review took place in January 2018 and it became apparent that changes needed to be made at the branch Ms Waldie worked at. The review confirmed that there needed to be a weekly reduction in hours of 21.5 hours from the staff roster.

Lloyds Pharmacy explored the option of making redundancies and introduced a scoring measure which factored in all affected employees’ ability to engage with customers, flexibility, adaptability and qualifications. After scoring poorly, Ms Waldie was notified on 27th March via letter that she was at risk of redundancy. In this letter it made reference to “your recent briefing and individual consultation meeting.”

However, both the briefing and the individual consultation meeting hadn’t taken place at that point and were in fact scheduled for the following day. During the individual consultation meeting she was informed that the Company needed to reduce staff hours and that she was provisionally selected for redundancy.

Ms Waldie was later handed a letter inviting her to a consultation meeting on the 4th April 2018. However, the letter she received was titled incorrectly and merely referred to the meeting as the “first formal consultation meeting”, when it was in fact the second meeting. Although, the letter informed her of her right to be accompanied, it had failed to note that her employment could be terminated by reason of redundancy at the meeting.

During the meeting, Ms Waldie was informed that there were no suitable vacancies for her and therefore she was being made redundant as of the 6th April 2018 and her subsequent appeal was dismissed.

The Employment Tribunal held that, whilst the scoring process and the business reasons for redundancy were fair and she would have been made redundant in any event, Ms Waldie had not been given prior notice of the first consultation meeting, nor was she informed that the meeting on 4th April could result in her being made redundant. As a result of errors in the procedure, the Tribunal found she had been unfairly dismissed and awarded her four weeks’ pay.

Employers should pay particular attention to this ruling when they are considering making redundancies. By failing to ensure a full and proper process is carried out employers could face a claim for unfair dismissal. As such, employers should ensure that they document each stage and provide sufficient notice of each meeting. In addition, a consistent approach should be taken throughout the entire process to avoid an argument of bias or a pre-meditated decision.