Right to appeal during redundancy?

I read an interesting article this week regarding redundancies and the right to appeal. With the repeal of the statutory dispute resolution procedures in April 2009, there is now, no formal right to appeal during the redundancy process. However, our advice has always been to continue with current disciplinary and grievance procedures, as they go above and beyond the legal requirement.

This may sound like good news, making a redundancy process quicker, however a quick discussion round the office and we see that this may not be the best way to handle redundancies. Read on for our opinion on the right to appeal during redundancy.

Firstly, a redundancy is essentially no different to a ‘normal’ termination, where you are required to go through a number of key steps to avoid making it automatically unfair, offer the right to appeal to a more senior member of management or impartial Director. Therefore it is difficult to understand why due to the repeal of the dispute resolution regulations, that the right to appeal during redundancy has been removed, where all other employment rights apply.

Although an appeal process can lengthen a redundancy process, add more layers and potentially make decision making more bureaucratic, it does have it’s advantages, and bodes well for a fair and transparent process, that ACAS require. It may not be long before ACAS recognise the benefits that an appeal process brings to a redundancy situation, as we may now find, many organisations use this ‘loop-hole’ to their advantage – however could it not be to their disadvantage? Negating the need for an appeal, only heightens the risk for formal legal action. Wouldn’t you rather get any flaws of your redundancy process out in front of an appeal panel, rather than a Board room of lawyers, or even worse in a tribunal? Despite being 100% sure on the business case, there are always going to be pit falls, although often minor, in the selection process or criterion and therefore any employee selected for redundancy should get a chance to put their case forward, if they feel they have not been fully considered or unfairly selected.

In addition to this, having an appeal process in place, can often make the person taking responsibility for the initial redundancy decisions think more carefully about their choices, processes and procedures, should they have to justify their decision making to appeal boards or senior management. It makes the process fairer, transparent and open, as employees feel that they have recourse.

Our advice is always to include the right of appeal in all termination situations, and include this clearly in your policy.