Case in focus

Gwynedd Council v Barratt 2020

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (binding on other Employment Tribunals) has held that a requirement for employees to interview during a redundancy process rendered their dismissals unfair.

What happened?

During a reorganisation, the employer conducted an interview process for the available jobs instead of an objective scoring matrix to select teachers for redundancy.  This essentially made them have to interview for their current role.  There was no consultation over the proposals and no appeal against dismissal was offered.  Ms Barratt was dismissed as a result of this process.

The Hearings

The employment tribunal found in favour of Ms Barratt.  However, Gwynedd Council appealed, arguing that the tribunal had applied earlier case law guidelines too rigidly.  The Employment Appeal Tribunal dismissed their appeal.  It held that the dismissal was indeed unfair and that this type of process will only be appropriate in a “forward thinking” situation involving new posts.  There was also the need to apply fairness, requiring the employer to go through a proper consultation process, allowing an appeal.  Neither of which happened in this case.

Takeaway points

  • Keep good records throughout an employee’s employment history.
  • Consider a wide array of options and alternatives to redundancy – which normally form part of a consultation process.
  • Don’t fall back to interviewing as your default position if there is a genuine reduction in headcount which is required.
  • Offer an appeal.