ACAS has provided a new guide on pregnancy and maternity redundancy issues. The new guide “Managing Redundancy for Pregnant Employees or Those on Maternity Leave” sets out how to handle situations covering maternity protection, managing redundancy fairly and consulting employees on maternity leave. Complimentary copies are available on request.

  • Reduction in Hours

Packman t/a Packman Lucas Associates v Fauchon EAT 0017/12

Ms Fauchon was dismissed for redundancy because she refused to agree to work reduced hours in response to a drop in her book‑keeping work. Her employer claimed in the Tribunal that she was not entitled to redundancy pay because it had not sought to reduce its headcount and a redundancy situation did not exist. The Tribunal disagreed. Where the amount of work available for the same number of employees is reduced the dismissal of an employee wholly or mainly for that reason is by reason of redundancy, even if the employer is not proposing a reduction in employee numbers. Packman appealed. Ms Fauchon argued in the EAT that where there is a lessening of the requirement for an employee to work the hours she had been previously working then there is a redundancy situation and any consequent dismissal was inevitably for redundancy. The EAT agreed.

Its view was that Parliament plainly anticipated that the expression ‘redundancy’ would be applicable in situations where there was no difference to the number in the workforce but the hours the employer required to be worked were fewer. For example, where two full‑time employees both became part‑time, the workforce is treated as having been cut by one even though the number of employees actually working remains the same. This reflects good industrial practice where a full‑time equivalent approach is adopted when measuring a reduction in headcount.

Key point: Even where there is no reduction in the number of employees required if the amount of work available for those employees is reduced that could amount to a redundancy dismissal.

  • Collective Consultation

The Government has announced proposals to reform rules for consulting employees on large‑scale redundancies which could see a reduction in the current 90 day period to help companies and to reduce uncertainty for employees. The minimum consultation period is likely to be 30‑45 days. If the consultation supports the change to the current rules the Government will seek to introduce changes in Spring 2013. The consultation closes on 19 September 2012.