UK: PDQ - Redundancy Selection Pools

The Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) has handed down two decisions which deal with selection pools and selection criteria to apply during a redundancy procedure. In Fulcrum Pharma (Europe) Limited -v- Bonassera the EAT addressed the issue of 'bumping' and the circumstances when it is appropriate to include more junior employees in a pool for possible redundancy. County Print -v- Page addressed the extent to which an employer should give details of how it scores an employee based on selection criteria and what information should be given to affected employees during the process.

If an employer wishes to dismiss an employee due to redundancy, it has a number of statutory obligations. Failure to follow them can result in a finding of unfair dismissal. Employers should identify an appropriate pool of potentially redundant employees and then individually consult with those employees during the redundancy process.

Fulcrum Pharma (Europe) Ltd –v- Bonassera

In Bonassera, the HR team consisted of two employees; an HR Manager supported by an HR Executive. Following a consultation process the Manager was made redundant as surplus to requirements. The HR Executive was not included in the pool of potentially redundant employees. The Tribunal found in favour of the Claimant and F appealed.

The EAT found that both the Manager and the Executive should have been included in the relevant pool. When deciding whether to include a more junior employee in a redundancy pool (with a view to potentially 'bumping' out the more junior employee) the correct approach was to consider:

  • whether there is a vacancy;
  • how different the two jobs are;
  • the difference in remuneration between the two roles;
  • the relative length of service of the two employees;
  • the qualifications of the employee in danger of redundancy; and
  • any other factors applying to that particular case.

The employer had documented its consideration of 'bumping' the Executive but this had not been discussed with her and therefore it had not been established whether the Manager would have been willing to consider the more junior role at a reduced salary.


This case serves as a reminder that identifying a pool of potential redundant employees is far from straightforward. It is not sufficient to simply identify a role which the employer believes to be redundant and consult with only that person. The employer needs to consider the function (in this case the HR function which was being reduced from two to one) as a whole and ensure that all affected employees are properly consulted.

Pinewood County Print -v- Page

In this case the EAT considered the extent to which an employer should consult on the outcome of selection criteria as part of the consultation process.

The Claimant was one of three potentially redundant employees included in the pool. The employer used a scoring matrix to identify performance such as attendance, productivity, abilities, skills, experience, disciplinary record and flexibility. The Claimant received a slightly lower score than the other two employees in the pool and was advised that he was to be made redundant. He sought details of how the scores had been decided upon during the consultation process but he was not provided with this information.

The Tribunal had concluded that the failure by the employer to provide details of how the scores were reached meant that the Claimant was unable to properly understand or challenge the scoring. On appeal the EAT supported the original findings of the Tribunal. It found that in order for a consultation to be fair, the employee must be given a 'fair and proper opportunity to understand fully the matters about which [he] is being consulted and to express his views on those subjects.' The employer should then consider those views 'properly and genuinely'.


Had the employer provided full details of how it scored the Claimant, even if it had stood firm on its original scorings, the Tribunal would have had difficulty in interfering with the conclusions reached by the employer. As it was, the lack of proper consultation meant that the employer undermined its own position.

It is important to remember that an open and transparent redundancy consultation will normally be far more beneficial than seeking to hide behind opaque scores and matrices. A Tribunal will have difficulty criticising an employer's decision if the employer is able to point to a fully documented and transparent consultation process and a fully functioning appraisal system.

Unfair dismissal

The Governments is actively considering whether to increase the qualifying period for unfair dismissal from one year to two years. This is likely to be the subject of a consultation in the coming months, but does not require any new legislation to be introduced.

Such a change sounds like good news for employers. However whether employers will, in practice, notice any real change in terms of cost savings is less certain; the change would not have any impact on dismissals which are deemed discriminatory or automatically unfair and do not require a qualifying period, such as whistleblowing, maternity and trade union-related dismissals.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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