Case in Focus (Murray & Another v Foyle Meats Ltd) … redundancy, “work of a particular time”

Murray & Another v Foyle Meats Ltd [1999] IRLR 562, HL

What happened?

In Murray v Foyle Meats Ltd, two individuals (M and D) were employed by the company Foyle Meats Ltd (FM). M and D were working as meat plant operatives in a slaughterhouse. Furthermore, their contracts stated that FM could need them to carry out different types of work within the slaughterhouse. However, ultimately, both M and D were made redundant for the reason that “work of a particular kind” had diminished. However, M and D disagreed with this outcome.

The Hearings

Lord Irvine rejected the contract approach, and instead intimated that the straightforward analysis in Murray should assist in all redundancy cases. Additionally, The Lords established that the decline in work, which was the cause of the dismissal, does not have to relate to the work actually carried out by the dismissed employee. Overall, the tribunal concluded that M and D were engaged in “work of a particular kind”. M and D went on to appeal against this decision. However, it was in vain as the House of Lords dismissed their appeal. The House of Lords noted that s.11(2) of the Contracts of Employment and Redundancy Payments Act (Northern Ireland) 1965 had been implemented. As a consequence, the requirement for employees to work in the slaughterhouse had diminished.

Take away points

  • It is essential that all employers have contracts of employment in place for all employees. They need to be up to date and compliant with employment law.
  • The reason for the dismissals in this particular case was that there was a reduction in work of a particular kind and that this reduction in work caused the reduction in staff.

If you would like help putting your employees first or have any HR issues you would like to discuss please contact Laura Reilly on 01522 81 5100.