When is Redundancy not Redundancy?

In Fish v Glen Golf Club EATS/0057/11, Mr Fish, a golf club secretary, argued that his dismissal was not for redundancy, but because the committee took a dim view of his conduct and capability.

It is not unusual for employers to dismiss for redundancy when there are other issues lurking in the backgrounds (or the foreground!). Employees in this position often argue that a redundancy label is simply a ‘cover’ for the real reason for dismissal, even though ‘redundancy’ carries with it a statutory redundancy payment and makes it easy to explain leaving to future employers.

Mr Fish, the appellant, was the club secretary from 1999 until 2008, when he was dismissed purportedly by reason of redundancy. At Tribunal he argued that his dismissal was in fact because of his conduct and capability. Mr Fish therefore argued that redundancy was a pretext .

The Club was however, struggling financially and three other golf club employees had also been dismissed by reason of redundancy. The Employment Tribunal found that Mr Fish had been fairly dismissed by reason of redundancy.

Mr Fish took his case to appeal, arguing that the golf club’s decision had been perverse. The Employment Appeal Tribunal disagreed and upheld the original Tribunal’s decision. In coming to this conclusion, the Employment Appeal Tribunal decided that the Tribunal was entitled to find that redundancy was the main reason for dismissal and that the concerns that the club committee had about Mr Fish were background reasons, not the real reason s for dismissal.

This decision confirms that redundancy can be the main reason for dismissal, even where the employer has other concerns in relation to the employee. These situations need careful handling, to minimize the scope for leavers and tribunals to muddy the waters.




Claire Abraham, paralegal, Just Employment Ltd.

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