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Redundancy: do employees have a right to appeal?

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The Acas Code of Conduct on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures requires employers to take certain steps before dismissing an employee – including giving them the right to appeal against their dismissal; however, this doesn't apply to redundancy dismissals.

In Gwynedd Council v Barratt and Hughes, the Court of Appeal had to determine if two employees made redundant were unfairly dismissed because their employer did not allow them to appeal against their dismissal. On the facts, it held that their dismissals were unfair because the employer had circumvented the established way of dealing with redundancies (consultation, pooling, selection criteria and looking for suitable alternative employment) by putting staff on notice that their jobs were at risk and requiring them to apply for vacancies.

Why this matters

This decision doesn't mean employers must always allow employees to appeal against their redundancy as a final stage in the process. If they have properly consulted about the redundancies (both collectively and individually) their staff will have already had the opportunity to challenge their selection and ask to be considered for alternative roles. In those circumstances, they may decide not to offer an appeal to avoid going over the same ground.

But, offering an employee the right to appeal against a redundancy dismissal will strengthen their case that a dismissal for redundancy was fair. And it's also been held that where the employer does provide an appeal, the usual rule applies that a fair appeal can, if necessary, cure an unfair initial decision. That's why many employers err on the side of caution and offer appeals even where they have properly consulted individuals and given them the opportunity to challenge their selection at an earlier stage in the process.

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