Halpin v Sandpiper Books Ltd UKEAT/0171/11
Dismissal can be a fair for the reason of redundancy even when the selection pool consists of just one person.
Mr Halpin was employed by Sandpiper Books initially completing administrative work in England and later as Sandpiper Book’s sole employee in China. Sandpiper then decided to outsource the work to local book agents in China. Mr Halpin was made redundant after rejecting an offer of part time administrative work.
For a redundancy dismissal to be fair there must be:
- a genuine redundancy situation
- a fair procedure; and
- the dismissal must be within the range of reasonable responses.
In redundancy dismissals, a fair procedure will involve identifying a pool of employees who are ‘at risk’, objectively selecting those to be made redundant, consulting with the ‘at risk’ employees and offering alternative work, where available. There is no duty to, but employers should sometimes consider bumping i.e. person A’s job is redundant, but moving them to person B’s job and dismissing person B by reason of redundancy.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal held that the decision as to who should be in the pool is for the employer to make. If an employer acts logically in deciding who should make up the pool then it is hard for a tribunal to overturn the decision. A pool of one was appropriate as Mr Halpin was the sole employee in China and his job was disappearing.
The employer did not have to include other employees in the pool with a view to ‘bumping’ them.
Employers should remember that as long as the decision is logical and they genuinely considered who should be in the pool, then a decision to have a pool of one could be reasonable.