Making adjustments to the workforce
With the vast majority of Covid-19 related restrictions due to be lifted by 22 October 2021, the Government has recommended a “phased and staggered” re-entry to the workplace. Many employers are taking a hard look at the impact that the pandemic and the economy has had on their business. Cost saving measures are being implemented, including a reduction in the workforce, where appropriate. In this article we take an updated look at redundancy in Ireland.
We will look at recent decisions of the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court for tips on how to avoid expensive errors when implementing redundancy in the workplace.
Selection for redundancy must be impartial and objective.
In the case of Tanneron Limited v Gerard Conolin, the Labour Court reversed a decision of the Workplace Relations Commission and found that the selection process used, was not impersonal and objective.
The complainant submitted that the selection criteria, which focused on performance over the previous twelve months were unfair and designed to put him at a disadvantage. It was submitted that as the organisation was small, the employer already knew who had the”least advantageous performance figures”. He had not been assigned work in the previous 8-10 months.
The respondent submitted that because of heavy financial losses it had to initiate a redundancy process. It submitted that the procedure carried out was impersonal and objective.
The Labour Court accepted that there was a genuine redundancy situation and that the employer had considered alternatives to redundancy.
The Labour Court then examined the selection criteria used by the employer. The complainant had submitted that the selection criteria were unfair and were a cloak used to dismiss a seemingly under performing employee.
The Labour Court found that the criteria were used knowing that the complainant would be among those most likely to be made redundant. The Court could not be satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the complainant was not singled out and that the criteria was not applied with him in mind.
The Labour Court found that the complainant had been unfairly dismissed. It awarded the complainant €23,000 in compensation.
Employers take note
When faced with the prospect of initiating redundancy in your organisation, remember it is the role which is being made redundant. The selection criteria must be seen to be impersonal and fair. There cannot be any suggestion of the criteria serving as a “cloak” to remove a pre-selected employee.
You must be able to demonstrate that you gave real consideration to all alternatives to redundancy.
Lay off and Redundancy
From 30 September 2021, the right of an employee to claim redundancy during lay off will be reinstated. This right was suspended in March 2020, as a result of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy.
See related unfair redundancy case here
For more on lay off see
For more on redundancy see
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