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Redundancy – don’t get caught in the rough

Mr Ingham was the Club Steward of Wrexham Golf Club. He tended the bar and cashed and locked up at the end of the evening. In November 2010, the Club had to cut costs and decided that the role of Club Steward was potentially redundant. The Club wanted to combine the bar and catering facilities and have the catering staff assume the Club Steward’s role.

Mr Ingram was placed in a “pool of one” as he was the only Club Steward. The Club consulted with him to try to find ways of avoiding redundancy. However, no alternatives were identified and Mr Ingham was made redundant in December 2010.

The Tribunal found that he had been unfairly dismissed. Although he was dismissed for a potentially fair reason (redundancy), it held that the Club’s decision to dismiss him was not a decision which fell within the band of reasonable responses as the Club had failed to consider the possibility of establishing any kind of “pool” for redundancy selection purposes.

The Club appealed to the EAT which overturned the finding of unfair dismissal. It held that the Tribunal should have considered whether, in this case, it was reasonable for the employer not to have considered establishing a pool. The EAT therefore remitted this question back to the Tribunal for consideration.

This case confirms that it can be reasonable for employers eliminating a single role to focus on one employee without establishing a selection pool or even considering whether one should be developed. However, in most cases employers should at least address their minds as to whether a selection pool would be appropriate.

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