Redundancy: must you offer a right of appeal?
What’s a redundancy?
A redundancy situation can only occur where: (1) an entire business closes down; (2) the workplace premises where an employee works shut down; and (3) there is a diminishing requirement for an employee to carry out work of a particular kind.
To avoid compulsory redundancies the option of voluntary redundancy can be offered to staff. We looked at this process in a previous article ( yr.22, iss14, pg.3 , see The next step ).
Any right of appeal?
Where redundancies are being made, you must always follow a fair process. That’s because, in the absence of a fair process, a redundancy can be deemed an unfair dismissal by the tribunal.
But does a fair redundancy process include offering those individuals who are going to be made redundant a right of appeal against your decision?
In a redundancy situation - regardless of whether it’s voluntary or compulsory - you’ve no legal obligation to offer any right of appeal. So this doesn’t have to be a specific stage of your redundancy process.
That said as a fair and reasonable employer, you should show that you are open to an appeal - and hold one - if an employee challenges your redundancy decision.
Note. Whilst a volunteer for redundancy is unlikely to do so, you could well be challenged in a compulsory redundancy situation.
For example, an employee might question why they’ve been chosen for redundancy over another individual based on the redundancy selection criteria that you’ve applied.
By having an appeal process, the redundancy decision can be reviewed entirely and any procedural errors or flaws can be rectified.
Where an employee appeals against a redundancy decision, you should arrange a meeting with them. You can do this by issuing our notification of redundancy appeal meeting (see The next step ).
The appeal meeting should not be chaired by the redundancy decision maker, or anyone closely connected to the process. Where possible, the chair should be totally unconnected to the redundancy process (although this isn’t always possible for smaller employers).
Tip. The chair must act as impartially as possible throughout the appeal meeting. The employee must also be given a full and fair opportunity to explain the basis for their appeal and make representations. Following the appeal meeting, the chair should notify the employee in writing of the appeal outcome (see The next step ). There is no need for a further appeal if the employee remains dissatisfied with your redundancy decision.