The claimant in Hakki v Instinctif Partners Limited (formerly College Hill Ltd) worked as an HR co-ordinator reporting to the HR manager, and also provided administrative assistance to the company's CEO. In October 2011 a private equity firm invested in the company, with the result that 17 different entities including the UK office came together under a single holding company. One of the knock-on effects was that the HR manager became responsible for managing the HR function in all 17 offices and the employer decided to create two new full-time posts to reflect the increase in the claimant's work: HR adviser and PA to the CEO/FD and, at the same time, concluded that the claimant's role was redundant. The claimant applied for the new PA role but was unsuccessful following an interview; another candidate with the required skill-set going forward was appointed and the claimant was dismissed.
The issue was whether the reason for the dismissal was for redundancy and whether that reason was fair. Both the Employment Judge and the EAT decided that this was a redundancy scenario, accepting the employer's evidence that the two new roles differed materially from the claimant's former joint role and required different skill-sets – such as increased responsibility and greater technical ability – from those previously demonstrated by the claimant. The HR role also involved advisory work for which the claimant accepted she had neither the qualification nor experience.
The case is a reminder that the definition of a redundancy is not concerned with a reduction in work per se, or a reduction in head count (although either of these may feature as part of the factual picture). The question is whether there is a reduction, actual or anticipated, in the employer’s requirement for employees to do work of a particular kind. Here the Judge found that the requirement for an employee to do the claimant’s old job was clearly going to be replaced by two materially different jobs. In fact the work increased, as did the number of employees to do it. But there was nevertheless a state of affairs which made the role performed by the claimant redundant.