Emma Parr reviews a recent Guernsey Employment Tribunal ruling
that demonstrates how vital it is for employers to ensure their
selection pool is correctly identified, selection criteria are
objective and verifiable and that the consultation process should
The redundancy process of Blanchelande College in Guernsey was
recently thrown into the spotlight when a former maths teacher
successfully won his claims for unfair dismissal and sex
Following its decision in October 2010 to suspend the
College's sixth form as a costing cutting exercise, the College
determined that all teaching staff could be affected by its
decision (either because their post might no longer exist, or
because their teaching hours may be reduced) and were placed in the
pool for redundancy selection.
The Guernsey Tribunal ruled that any prerequisite of a fair
redundancy process is to ensure that the pool for selection is
correctly identified. In this case it was clear that by placing all
21 teachers into the pool, when only 3 were suitably qualified
maths teachers, resulted in a pool that was fundamentally flawed
from the outset. The College had created an incorrect pool.
In addition the Tribunal ruled that once a pool is correctly
identified, the use of selection criteria should be objective and
verifiable. Here, the College failed yet again.
By setting out in its selection criteria the need to assess the
pool against "performance management records" when in
fact evidence before the Tribunal clearly showed that the College
rarely undertook staff appraisals and had no such records to
assess, was only further evidence that the redundancy process was
Instead, the College sought to rely on the personal opinions of
the then Principal Designate in determining who should and should
not be offered a teaching post.
The Tribunal was very critical of the fact that among other
factors a teacher's inability to work Fridays was considered a
significant issue; that it was considered policy to give priority
to those prepared to work full-time versus those only wanting to
work part-time (itself a form of indirect sex discrimination);
coupled with the fact that the College wanted to give preference to
"strong female role models", were not considered to be
appropriate objective and verifiable selection criteria. The
teacher who won his claims for unfair dismissal and sex
discrimination was male.
Cherry picking selection criteria to support its rationale for
making this teacher redundant could not possibly result in a fair
The Tribunal also criticised the College for not following any
genuine consultation process. While on the surface it appeared to
invite proposals from the affected teachers, the proposal put
forward by the teacher in question, which offered a potential
timetabling solution, seemed to have been blatantly ignored; the
truth of the matter was that he was to be made redundant regardless
of any consultation, which brought the integrity of the process
into serious doubt.
The decision of the Tribunal is not comfortable reading for the
College and, unsurprisingly, it saw fit not to contest a similar
action brought against it only a week later from another affected
former employee. A redundancy process that did not engage in open
consultation, determined an incorrect pool and favoured personal
opinion over objective and verifiable criteria could not possibly
result in a fair redundancy process.
This was one cost-cutting exercise for the College that proved
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With the long-running saga between Unite and CT Plus set to continue for the time-being, there are more and more calls upon both Guernsey and Jersey States' Ministers to give the matter serious thought going forwards.
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