This redundancy claim involved acting for a professional services business which purchased the business and assets of a competitor. The employees employed by the competitor transferred to my client under TUPE. However, the client had no long-term plans to continue operating the business from the site at which the individuals were based and, in addition to consulting the employees about these proposals under TUPE, a separate redundancy consultation process took place after the transfer.
Following a brief hand-over period, the office at which the individuals were based was closed and those employees who could not be redeployed elsewhere were made redundant. A dozen employees proceeded to issue claims against my client claiming, amongst other things, that they should have been pooled with staff from another nearby office operated by my client. The claims were valued at approximately £500,000 and proceeded to a full hearing at Tribunal.
Throughout the matter advice and guidance was offered on the following aspects:
- providing initial advice on the TUPE transfer and the redundancy situation;
- providing support and guidance in relation to the internal consultation processes; and
- representing the client in the defence of the claims issued, dealing with all relevant aspects of the claim.
The Tribunal agreed with the analysis that it was a matter for the client to determine the scope of any redundancy pool, having applied their mind to the question and made a reasonable decision as to who should fall within the pool. In the circumstances, it was reasonable for the client, after due consideration, to limit the pool to those employees who were based at the site that was closing. The dismissals were consequently neither automatically unfair under TUPE nor were they deemed to be unfair under general unfair dismissal rules.
This is an example of the importance of getting the correct advice when undertaking any complex employee transfer or restructure process. Whilst there is no guarantee that employees will not (as in this case) seek to challenge your decisions, being conscious of the potential risks and having confidence in the advice you have received will place you in a strong position to respond to any claims should this prove to be necessary.
How we can help
The employment team at Brachers can provide you with guidance on any complex employee transfers and restructuring exercises, as well as providing you with expert advice should you be called to justify your decisions at an employment tribunal. Please contact a member of the employment team should you require any further advice.