Employment Law Case Developments – March 2012

Highlights of recent court and tribunal decisions include the following:

Redundancy dismissal to avoid pension liability justified on particular facts

In Woodcock v Cumbria Primary Care Trust [2012] the Court of Appeal has upheld a tribunal’s decision that an NHS Trust’s dismissal of a redundant chief executive without proper consultation to avoid his qualification for an enhanced pension was not unlawful age discrimination because the treatment was justified. While the court accepted that an employer could not justify treatment solely because the elimination of that treatment would involve increased costs, on the “unusual” facts of the case, the chief executive’s dismissal could not be characterised as having been solely aimed at saving or avoiding costs. The dismissal had been a proportionate means of achieving the legitimate aim of effecting the chief executive’s redundancy and was justified.

TUPE: change in location was substantial change to employees’ material detriment

In Abellio London Lts v Musse the EAT has upheld a tribunal’s decision that a relocation of six miles because of a TUPE transfer was a substantial change in bus drivers’ working conditions to their material detriment. Therefore, they had been entitled to resign and claim that they had been dismissed for the purposes of regulation 4(9) of TUPE. In London, a move from north to south of the river was substantial, and an increase in the working day of between one to two hours was a material detriment.

Redundancy: selection pool of one was fair

The EAT has upheld a tribunal’s decision that it was not unfair for an employer to use a selection pool of just one employee where it was ceasing its operations in China and the claimant was the only employee who had been sent to China. Decisions as to pools and selection criteria are matters for the employer, and a tribunal should rarely interfere with them. However please follow this decision with care and only use a selection pool of one when you are sure it can be justified.

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