Redundancy Consultation and Fairness


The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has ruled (Pinewood Repro Ltd. v Page) that for consultation during a redundancy selection process to be fair, an employee should be provided with sufficient information in order to be able to challenge his or her selection for redundancy.
Mr Page had worked as an estimator for Pinewood Repro Ltd., a printing business, for 23 years. The company suffered a loss of business which made redundancies necessary. To this end, a point scoring matrix system was agreed with the trade union.
Following a preliminary grading exercise, Mr Page was informed that it was most likely that he would be selected for redundancy. He sought an explanation as to why he had been chosen and was subsequently given the scoring sheets for the whole department. These contained no justification for the marks given, however. He then raised specific queries regarding the scores he had received for his ability, skill and experience and also his flexibility, but was merely told that the scores given by the assessors were ‘reasonable and appropriate’.
Mr Page appealed against the decision to select him for redundancy and again sought an explanation of his scores but was informed that his appeal had failed. His employer was ‘satisfied that the scoring was factual and correct. All the scores were high as you work in a department of very good employees and unfortunately you scored slightly lower than the others’.
The Employment Tribunal (ET) found that he had been unfairly dismissed. In such circumstances it is necessary for an employer to provide an explanation of why an individual has received the scores he has so that he can take his arguments forward. Pinewood had failed to do this.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld the ET’s decision. Whilst it is not the ET’s role in such cases to examine under a microscope the marking system used in the redundancy process, it must decide ‘whether an employee has been given a fair and proper opportunity to understand fully the matters about which he is being consulted and to express his views on those subjects and with the consultor thereafter considering those views properly and genuinely and that may well include being given sufficient information to be able to challenge the scores given to him in the completion of a redundancy exercise’.
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