Seeking an alternative to redundancy doesn’t include placing employee on a casual staff bank

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Redundancy is a potentially fair reason for dismissal provided that the employer follows a fair procedure and considers reasonable alternatives. In Aramark (UK) Ltd v Fernandes the fairness of the dismissal procedure was challenged on the grounds that the employer could have placed the employee who was at risk of redundancy on a list of ‘bank workers’ i.e. ad hoc workers who could be called upon should the need for work arise.


Aramark provided hospitality and housekeeping services on a rig where Mr Fernandes worked as a steward. When the owners of the rig announced that it was to close the service staff on board were informed that there was a redundancy situation. Mr Fernandes did not qualify for any of the alternative roles on board other rigs and was made redundant. He claimed unfair dismissal on the grounds even if no vacancies existed it would have been possible to redeploy him as one of the ‘bank staff’. 


It was held that the dismissal was fair. Aramark had considered whether it could avoid the redundancy by looking for alternative roles for Mr Fernandes on other rigs. Placing him on a list of workers who may be called upon to carry out work would not have avoided the dismissal. Those on the list were not employed and had no entitlement to be provided with work. That meant the failure to place him on the list could not be regarded as relevant in deciding whether the dismissal was fair.  


Key point 

Whether an employer acts reasonably in dismissing for redundancy requires consideration of whether there are alternative roles that the employee could do which would avoid the need to make the employee redundant. If an employer fails to take reasonable steps to avoid the dismissal by looking for suitable alternative employment that will likely mean that the dismissal was unfair. However alternative employment in this regard would not include ‘bank staff’ where there was no guarantee of work.

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