Last month’s EAT decision involving a redundancy in a small human resources department has some wider lessons for employers which have identified senior posts in a given department as potentially redundant. In this case the employer wished to reduce its headcount in the HR department from two to one, and decided that the more senior post, occupied by Ms Bonassera, was the one to go. As she was the only employee working at that level it chose a redundancy pool of one, with the result that Ms Bonassera was dismissed on redundancy grounds.
The EAT said that it was clearly unfair to have failed to consult Ms Bonassera about the redundancy pool. It should at least have explored with her whether she was prepared to work at a more junior level for a reduced salary, which could possibly have meant a "bumped" redundancy of the more junior member of the team. However the employment tribunal had been wrong to decide that the pool necessarily had to be widened from one to two.
In reaching this decision the EAT endorsed the guidance given a few years ago in Leventhal v North. In that earlier case the EAT listed a number of factors to consider, including the salary differential between the two levels and the relative lengths of service of the employees involved. However perhaps the most obvious lesson from this case is the risk an employer runs if it fails to consult on the composition of the pool, whether its composition is vertical or horizontal.