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17th November 2016

In the recent EAT case of Thomas –v- BNP Paribas Real Estate Advisory and Property Management UK Limited employers are reminded of the importance of consultation in the redundancy process.

Mr Thomas was employed as a Director of the Company and had been employed there for over 40 years.  BNP carried out a redundancy exercise which resulted in Mr Thomas being dismissed.

At the first meeting where he was put “at risk” he was told that it was the start of consultation but was immediately placed on  garden leave; forbidden from contacting clients, suppliers and employees and was cut off from access to the Company’s systems and email.  He was also told to keep the matter confidential.  The person holding the meeting simply read all of this from a “crib sheet”.

Unfortunately for BNP, they also made a number of other mistakes for example they subsequently wrote to him starting the letter, “Dear Paul”.  His name is Peter.  They also provided him with the wrong termination date.

The EAT described the consultation as “insensitive and perfunctory”.

Importantly, they held that such handling of consultation is highly relevant to the question of fairness of the consultation and therefore to the fairness of the dismissal.  The EAT overturned the Employment Tribunal’s decision that the dismissal was fair and sent it back to a different Employment Tribunal to hear the case again.

The consultation process in a redundancy dismissal is so important.  It should be a genuine attempt to give the employee an opportunity to feed into the employer’s ultimate decision as to whether to make redundancies in the first place and, if it is necessary, who should be dismissed.

Reading from pre-set scripts without deviation and immediately placing an employee on garden leave certainly gives the impression that decisions have already been made and consultation is a waste of time.  This is not to say that an employer should not have a script at these meetings but be flexible.  Also, be very careful when considering whether to put an individual on garden leave during the course of the consultation process.

If you would like to find out more, please contact Rob Coward on 0161 498 1922 or by email at rob.coward@lawbydesign.co.uk.

In the recent EAT case of Thomas –v- BNP Paribas Real Estate Advisory and Property Management UK Limited employers are reminded of the importance of consultation in the redundancy process.

Mr Thomas was employed as a Director of the Company and had been employed there for over 40 years.  BNP carried out a redundancy exercise which resulted in Mr Thomas being dismissed.

At the first meeting where he was put “at risk” he was told that it was the start of consultation but was immediately placed on  garden leave; forbidden from contacting clients, suppliers and employees and was cut off from access to the Company’s systems and email.  He was also told to keep the matter confidential.  The person holding the meeting simply read all of this from a “crib sheet”.

Unfortunately for BNP, they also made a number of other mistakes for example they subsequently wrote to him starting the letter, “Dear Paul”.  His name is Peter.  They also provided him with the wrong termination date.

The EAT described the consultation as “insensitive and perfunctory”.

Importantly, they held that such handling of consultation is highly relevant to the question of fairness of the consultation and therefore to the fairness of the dismissal.  The EAT overturned the Employment Tribunal’s decision that the dismissal was fair and sent it back to a different Employment Tribunal to hear the case again.

The consultation process in a redundancy dismissal is so important.  It should be a genuine attempt to give the employee an opportunity to feed into the employer’s ultimate decision as to whether to make redundancies in the first place and, if it is necessary, who should be dismissed.

Reading from pre-set scripts without deviation and immediately placing an employee on garden leave certainly gives the impression that decisions have already been made and consultation is a waste of time.  This is not to say that an employer should not have a script at these meetings but be flexible.  Also, be very careful when considering whether to put an individual on garden leave during the course of the consultation process.

If you would like to find out more, please contact Rob Coward on 0161 498 1922 or by email at rob.coward@lawbydesign.co.uk.

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