ADJUDICATION OFFICER DECISION
Adjudication Reference: ADJ-00007996
Complaint/Dispute Reference No.
Date of Receipt
Complaint seeking adjudication by the Workplace Relations Commission under Section 8 of the Unfair Dismissals Act, 1977
Date of Adjudication Hearing: 23/11/2017
Workplace Relations Commission Adjudication Officer: Eugene Hanly
In accordance with Section 8 of the Unfair Dismissals Acts, 1977 – 2015following the referral of the complaint to me by the Director General, I inquired into the complaint and gave the parties an opportunity to be heard by me and to present to me any evidence relevant to the complaint.
The Complainant was employed as an Accounts/Purchasing Administrator from 11th November 2003 to 13th January 2017. She was paid €3,748.89 per month. She has claimed that she was unfairly dismissed by an unfair redundancy selection. She has sought compensation.
Summary of Respondent’s Case:
The Respondent stated that they had difficulties with the viability of the business. There were ongoing challenges with cash and meeting payments. A decision was taken to cease the distribution side of the business called the PDI section. This resulted in redundancies and considerable debt owing for stock. At the time of the closure of the PDI section there were four front office personnel. The restructure meant that only two posts of Finance Manager and Commercial Support Manger would continue. On 4th January 2017, a general meeting of all staff was held. A circular called Internal Announcement was given to all, posted on the notice board and emailed to those who had e-mail addresses. Management then met with the four employees in the front office and advised them that the numbers would be reduced to two and everybody would have the opportunity to apply for the two roles. They were given job descriptions for the two roles. All four applied and were interviewed. A selection was made based on competency. Unfortunately, the Complainant was not successful for the Finance Manager job as she scored 9 out of 28 while the successful candidate scored 17 out of 28. She was unsuccessful for the Commercial Support Manager as she scored 10 out of 28 while the successful candidate scored 20. She was then advised that she would be paid statutory redundancy and all entitlement to notice and holidays. She stated that she wished to leave that day and was paid in lieu of notice.
The Respondent rejects the allegation of “out with the old in with the new”. Two senior long serving staff resigned and retired respectively. In 2016 the Complainant declined to apply for a Finance position. It is accepted that 4th January 2017 was the first time that the restructure was announced. However, prior to that a strategic review was ongoing. It was not known that redundancies would occur until that review had been completed. Any form of duress or humiliation is rejected out of hand. This was a genuine redundancy. She received all her statutory entitlements. She has found work within three weeks with a company well known to the Respondent. Therefore, she has not incurred any loss. This complaint is rejected.
Summary of Complainant’s Case:
From 2003 to 2013 the Complainant enjoyed a good working relationship with her employer, colleagues and customers and suppliers. The last two years were particularly challenging as a result of corporate and management restructuring.
On 4th January 2017, the first day back after Christmas, a general meeting was called and they were advised that there was going to be a restructure of the warehouse and front office. Two of the four front office staff were to be made redundant. They were invited to apply for the two new roles of Finance Manager and Commercial Sales manager. They were given the job specifications. The Finance Manager should be at least a part qualified accountant. She interviewed on 9th January and on 12th January she and the Credit Controller were told that they would be made redundant. On 13th January, she met with the Managing Director, she protested that she was better qualified for the Commercial Sales Manager and she was told that she hadn’t applied for it last year. She was dismissed from her employment on grounds of redundancy. She received statutory redundancy, notice and holiday pay. The Credit Controller is still in employment and the successful candidate for the Finance Manager’s job commenced employment in 2015. The Complainant stated to the Managing Director that she was better qualified than the successful candidate for the Commercial Sales Manager. She was reminded that she had not applied for it in August 2016. The person who commenced employment in 2015 was appointed Finance manager. She was made redundant and was given statutory redundancy, notice pay and holiday pay. An incident arose between the Complainant and the Warehouse Manager in 2016, yet he was on the interviewing panel for the post that she was unsuccessful for. She objected tom him conducting that interview but this was ignored. She stated that the redundancy process was flawed.
She was never told in person that her job was redundant. She was never given the opportunity to explore alternatives to redundancy, such as pay cuts, reduced hours, redeployment, career break, lay-off, time off, or any other cost saving measure. There was no proper consultation. The selection criteria were not made known. No justification was made for the redundancy. She was not given the right of appeal. She was ruled out of contention for the post of Finance Manager because she had not got an accountancy degree despite the fact that she had a business degree. She cited case law in support of her position. In conclusion, the redundancy was a sham. Within 8 days of notification she was dismissed. There was no justification for this redundancy which was unwarranted and was procedurally unfair. She is seeking compensation. She found work after 3 weeks. She is earning €8,000 less per annum.
Findings and Conclusions:
Substantive Matter – was there a genuine redundancy?
I note that Respondent’s evidence regarding the precarious nature of the business’s finances.
I note their difficulties in making payments and managing cash flow.
I note the decision to close the distribution side of the business and the resulting redundancies.
I note the Respondent’s rationale for rationalising the front office section.
I respect the Respondent’s right to manage it business.
I accept the evidence of the financial state of the company.
Therefore, I find that there was a genuine redundancy.
I find that this complaint fails on substantive grounds.
I note that the Complainant was advised at a general meeting on 4th January 2017.
I find that the Respondent did not give sufficient time to properly consult with the Complainant.
I find that there was not sufficient exploration of alternatives to redundancy, such as pay cuts, reduced hours, redeployment, career break, lay-off, time off, or any other cost saving measure.
I find that having the Warehouse Manager on the selection panel was inappropriate given the fact that it was known that there were issues between them and the fact that she had objected to him.
I find that the Respondent had a right to determine its criteria for selection.
I find that the Respondent failed to adequately make known the selection criteria in advance of the interviews.
I find that the Respondent failed to provide the right of appeal of the decision to make her position redundant.
I find that the above has rendered the dismissal by reason of redundancy unfair on procedural grounds.
Section 8 of the Unfair Dismissals Acts, 1977 – 2015 requires that I make a decision in relation to the unfair dismissal claim consisting of a grant of redress in accordance with section 7 of the 1977 Act.
I have decided that the dismissal by reason of redundancy was procedurally unfair.
I order the Respondent to pay the Complainant compensation of €5,000 to be paid within six weeks of the date below.
Dated: 19 January 2018
Workplace Relations Commission Adjudication Officer: Eugene Hanly
Unfair dismissal through unfair selection for redundancy.