Contract Bottling Ltd v Cave arose out of a redundancy exercise conducted by a company which needed to make cuts in administration and accounts staff. Unusually, the employer did not adopt a narrow pool for consideration; instead, it put together in one pool ten employees whose job titles ranged from accounts manager to quality controller and warehouse manager.
A generic scoring matrix was applied, with the intention of dismissing four staff and keeping the other six whatever their function had been and retraining them as necessary. It was accepted that this might involve "bumping" – if, for example, the quality controller had the lowest score he would have been dismissed, even though the quality control function was still required; that function would then be reassigned to someone else.
The Employment Tribunal was not satisfied that the employer had proved that the dismissal of the claimants was for redundancy because, in its view, the employer's "scatter gun" approach did not fit with the test of a "diminution in requirement for employees to carry out work of a particular kind". But the EAT disagreed. Although it described the choice of pool as rather surprising, there was nevertheless a diminution in the requirements of the business for employees to carry out work of several kinds and the dismissals were attributable to that diminution. The administration department was over manned; the employer did not have to identify which particular kinds of work within that department were over staffed.
The Tribunal had, however, made compelling findings as to why the dismissals, even if for redundancy, were unfair, including that the redundancy matrix set out in the employee handbook, which contained objective elements, had been ignored in favour of a wholly subjective one; and the marking had been done by someone who was unfamiliar with the team and who could not explain it.