Are employers obliged to accept voluntary redundancy applications?

Does refusing a voluntary redundancy application from an employee make a subsequent compulsory redundancy of a fellow employee unfair? The answer is “no” provided the employer has good reasons for its decision. In a recent case, an employer needed to make cut backs so it carried out a redundancy exercise. Employee A scored the worst in the scoring exercise  but Employee B (who got the second worst score in the exercise) applied to the Employer for voluntary redundancy. The Employer rejected Employee B’s request and made Employee A redundant instead. Employee A then submitted a claim to the Employment Tribunal alleging that his employment had been unfairly terminated because there was already a volunteer (Employee B) who was willing to be made redundant. Employee A won his claim for Unfair Dismissal because (1) the Employer had failed to follow its own redundancy policy which said that it would seek volunteers for redundancy wherever possible to avoid compulsory redundancies; (2) the Employer was not able to explain why it had declined Employee B’s request to be made voluntarily redundant; (3) there was no clear reason why the Employer selected Employee A for redundancy when their score was very close to the one of Employee B  who had volunteered to be made redundant. Requests for voluntary redundancy are ordinarily made at the start of the redundancy process but an Employer is not under any obligation to accept any application from an employee.

If you require any employment advice or representation, whether you are an employer or employee, feel free to contact Alan Davidson for a consultation: 01756 692 869.

Alan Davidson
Partner, Employment