In Wrexham Golf Co Ltd v Ingham, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (“EAT”) have overturned an Employment Tribunal’s (the "Tribunal") decision that the dismissal of an employee was unfair because no consideration was given to the possibility of establishing a pool from which any redundancies could be made. The EAT concluded that there will be cases where it is within the band of reasonable responses for an employer to focus upon a single employee without developing a pool, or even giving consideration to the development of a pool, in determining those at risk of redundancy.
Mr Ingham was employed by Wrexham Golf Club (the "Club") as a steward from 1 June 2005 until 21 March 2011 when his employment was terminated on the grounds of redundancy. His main role was managing the bar, and he was the only employee carrying out this function. The Club decided that the role of steward was no longer required, as the bar and catering aspects of the club could be consolidated to save money, with the steward’s role being carried out by other staff members. Mr Ingham was dismissed. The Tribunal upheld his claim for unfair dismissal due to the fact that the Club had failed to consider the possibility of establishing a selection pool, perhaps including the other bar staff, but rather simply decided it should be Mr Ingham that be made redundant.
The Club appealed against the Tribunal’s decision, and the EAT overturned the finding of unfair dismissal. It held that it did not follow that simply because the Club did not consider the question of a pool, the decision to make Mr Ingham redundant was necessarily outside the band of reasonable responses. The EAT noted that there is no legal requirement for a pool of employees to be selected for consideration for redundancy and, as such, an employer, if he has good reason, may consider a single employee for redundancy. The Tribunal had failed to consider, given the nature of the role of steward, whether it was reasonable for the Club not to have considered developing a wider pool of employees for selection. The EAT has remitted the case for a re-hearing before a fresh Tribunal.
Impact for employers:
- The decision in this case provides confirmation that an employer will not necessarily have acted unreasonably if they decide to eliminate a single role within their business and do not consider or establish a selection pool. What an Employment Tribunal should consider is whether this is a reasonable response in the particular circumstances.
Nevertheless, the risk of a successful claim being brought against an employer for using a pool of one can be minimised if the employer can evidence that they genuinely applied their mind to the issue. As such, it would be sensible for an employer to at least consider whether a selection pool would be appropriate in any given situation.