A pool of one

Posted: 9th December 2013

EATA senior charity employee, whose post was deleted after her boss decided that there were too many managers and not enough workers actually delivering services, has failed to convince the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) that she was unfairly dismissed.

The charity was in a serious financial position when the decision was taken that two managerial posts had to go. The employee, who was the charity’s deputy executive director, was informed that she was at risk of redundancy and was invited to make alternative proposals which would not involve her departure.

A number of meetings were held at which her views were sought and her proposals discussed. She lodged a formal grievance, which did not succeed; she was offered alternative, less senior, posts – for which she did not apply – and she was ultimately dismissed, ostensibly by reason of redundancy.

The employee launched Employment Tribunal (ET) proceedings, arguing that it was not a genuine case of redundancy and that she had been unfairly dismissed. It was said that she had not been properly consulted; that there were ways in which costs could have been cut without getting rid of staff and that the charity’s need for someone to perform her role had neither ceased nor diminished.

Those arguments did not prevail and, in dismissing the employee’s challenge, the EAT ruled that the ET had made no error of law. The consultation procedures that preceded her departure were appropriate and the charity had been entitled to take the view that her seniority and the uniqueness of her role had put her in a ‘pool of one’ when it came to considering whether it was necessary to make her redundant.