Think of redundancies and the first thought that usually comes to mind is a business that is facing hard times and having to make cut backs. We would all probably agree that the term redundancy is not often associated with a growing business.
However, the fact that a business is thriving may also sometimes surprisingly lead to an employee being dismissed on grounds of redundancy. This perhaps unusual outcome was highlighted in a recent case that came before the Employment Appeals Tribunal*.
The background to the case was that a HR Co-ordinator had been appointed to provide assistance for an existing HR Manager and the CEO of the business; in practice she helped out the Finance Director too. The company attracted investors and found itself forming part of an organisation operating 17 different offices. The HR Manager now faced with the task of providing HR services in all 17 offices, decided that a new post of HR Adviser should be created. This would require a qualified HR officer with experience of providing advice. The CEO and Finance Director also found that they were faced with a lot more work demands. They needed a full time Personal Assistant to help them out. It, therefore, followed that two new roles were created.
The increased work load and the creation of these new posts led to the role of HR Co-ordinator disappearing. As there would no longer be a need for an HR Co-ordinator it was decided to make the post redundant.
In dismissing the employee’s subsequent unfair dismissal claim, it was confirmed in the judgement that the statutory definition of redundancy was not concerned with just showing a reduced head count or simply establishing that there had been a reduction in work. The question to answer was whether there was a reduction in the requirement for employees to do work of a particular kind? The two jobs created in this case may have been similar to that previously carried out by the HR Co-ordinator, but they were sufficiently different in respect of the further qualifications and experience needed to allow it to be decided that there was a redundancy situation.
*Hakki v Instintif Partners Limited (Formerly College Hill Ltd) 12 September EAT