Extended meaning to ‘redundancy’

GMB v Man Truck and Bus UK, Unreported June 2000 EAT

• Following the merger of two businesses, MTB decided to harmonise staff terms and conditions by terminating their employment and re-engaging on new terms. Employees were given no option to continue under the old terms and if they reported to work on the specified date – 1 June 1999 – they were deemed to have accepted the new terms.

All staff reported to work that day. The GMB sought a declaration and protective award arguing that MTB had failed to comply with its statutory duty to consult, a duty which arose because of the proposed dismissal by reason of redundancy of more than 20 employees within a 90-day period. The tribunal interpreted “redundancy” narrowly and held that as no jobs or workers were lost and as there were no dismissals or proposals to dismiss for redundancy it had no jurisdiction to hear the claim.

The EAT held the tribunal failed to give effect to the extended meaning of “redundancy” whereby group dismissals resulting from a reorganisation of working arrangements constituted a redundancy even when there was no reduction or cessation of work. MTB’s imposition of new terms involved a “proposal” to dismiss and accordingly it had a duty to consult.

Assessing aggravated damages

Harling v CL Plastics EOR Discrimination Digest 44 ET

• Harling suffered from dyslexia and was taunted about his condition and physically abused by his co-workers and junior managers for about 18 months. He was discouraged from complaining to senior managers, but when he did so his complaint was not taken seriously. He resigned suffering from stress and depression.

He brought successful claims for disability discrimination and constructive dismissal. The tribunal awarded him £25,000 made up of £15,000 for injury to feelings and £10,000 aggravated damages. The aggravating factors included the length of time over which Harling was bullied, the fact that junior managers were involved in the bullying and that Harling’s complaint was not taken seriously by senior managers. Significantly, the way CPL’s witnesses conducted themselves at the tribunal was also taken into account; they were contemptuous of the questions asked and attacked Harling’s character. The tribunal held CPL bore some responsibility for this.

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