U.K. Employment Law Update: Impact of Lack of Appeal on Fairness of Redundancy Process, Dismissal for Assertion of a Statutory Right, and Dismissal of Whistleblower

Was a Redundancy Dismissal Unfair Because of Lack of Appeal?

In Gwynedd Council v (1) Barratt (2) Hughes [2021] EWCA Civ 1322, the Court of Appeal (CA) considered whether an employer’s failure to give an employee an opportunity to appeal against the decision to dismiss them for redundancy rendered the dismissal unfair.

The claimants were teachers who were dismissed for redundancy as a result of the closure of the school at which they taught. They brought a claim for unfair dismissal, arguing that the redundancy process had been unfair, in part because they were not given an opportunity to appeal their dismissal.

The CA confirmed that the absence of an appeal would not necessarily make a dismissal for redundancy unfair if the redundancy selection was conducted in accordance with a fair process. While it would be wrong to find a redundancy dismissal unfair only because of the absence of an appeal process, such absence was one of many factors to be considered in determining the overall fairness of a redundancy process. In this particular case, the lack of an appeal process was one of several factors which rendered the dismissal process unfair.

This case confirms that although failing to offer a right of appeal will not necessarily make a redundancy dismissal unfair, it is a factor that is material to the overall fairness of the process. As such, the safest course of action for employers is to offer employees an opportunity to appeal against any decision to dismiss them for redundancy.

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