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Q: We have changed our telephone system and as a result no longer need a telephonist. She has been with us for eight years and is a good worker. She could do the job of another member of staff who has been with us for little over a year but we have been told that it would be unfair to dismiss the shorter service clerk since his job is not redundant. How do we stand?
A: Whilst it may be socially unacceptable to view things this way, nevertheless in law there are two options when it comes to redundancy. Where a post has ended employers can make the job redundant or where chosen by fair and objective criteria a person can be made redundant where for example it is a business requirement to reduce headcount.
However I suggest that many people would agree that it is fairer to retain the person with longer service. A simple but useful definition of redundancy is that
- the employer needs fewer people of a particular type, and as a result, someone is dismissed.
You no longer need a telephonist and as a result the clerk is dismissed. He is redundant although his job will continue to be carried out. This process is called "bumping". But you must be sure to make an objective selection.
What you need to do:
- Identify the pool of people who can carry out clerical work
- Determine the factors that are important in their value to the organisation, for example skill, flexibility
- Put a relative value on each
- Appoint a panel of at least two people who understand the jobs under consideration
- Have them evaluate each employee against these factor
- The person with the lowest score is the ideal candidate for redundancy.
Length of service alone may be an unreasonable means of selection when the age discrimination regulations come into force in October 2006.
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