Employers Beware – Voluntary Redundancy Is Still A Dismissal

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has recently held that a dismissal still arises when an employee volunteers for redundancy and therefore may form part of an unfair dismissal claim.

Case Facts

The facts of this EAT case of White v HC-One Oval Ltd. [2022] EAT 56 were as follows: A receptionist, Ms White was employed by HC-One Oval Ltd. Her employer announced its intention to reduce the number of employees carrying receptionist and administrative work and Ms White was provisionally selected for redundancy. Ms White claimed unfair dismissal asserted that the situation had been deliberately manufactured by her employer and the redundancy was a sham. She claimed that her employer did not follow a fair procedure, including by failing to offer her an alternative position, which caused her to take voluntary redundancy. Her employer argued that Ms White had requested voluntary redundancy, which had been agreed, and that this then led to the termination of her employment. Her employer even asserted that her claim should be struck out on the grounds that it had no reasomable prospect of success. The employment tribunal held in favor of her employer and struck out her claim.

Ms White appealed to the EAT and was successful. The EAT held that the employment tribunal had made an error of law. Its decision established that the employment tribunal had failed to engage properly with Ms White’s claim and that they should not have struck it out as the central facts were in dispute. The fact that Ms White had requested voluntary redundancy did not mean that her complaints about the redundancy process that preceded it were irrelevant, especially as she had asserted that the redundancy situation was a sham.

Learning Points

  • This case is a useful reminder that a voluntary redundancy is generally regarded as a dismissal and therefore may form part of an unfair dismissal claim.
  • Employers should always consider offering employees who volunteer for redundancy a settlement agreement under which their statutory employment rights including a right to claim unfair dismissal are waived.

For advice or further information on making redundancies in your business, call Henry Doswell of Doswell Law Solicitors on 01233 722942. Alternatively, email Henry at henry@doswell-law.com

Disclaimer: Whilst every reasonable effort is made to make the information and commentary contained in this blog accurate and up to date, Henry Doswell takes no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it. The information and commentary in this blog does not constitute legal advice to any person on a specific case or matter. You are strongly advised to obtain specific, personal advice from a lawyer about your case or matter.