Reduction in Employees hours may lead to Redundancy

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An employee was dismissed for refusing to work a reduced number of hours.

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What are the implications when an employee refuses to work a reduced number of hours, when the business dictates that it is necessary? 

In a recent case, an employee was dismissed for refusing to work a reduced number of hours, after it was deemed that there were no longer full time hours of their position.  It was held by the Tribunal that as such, they had been made redundant and were entitled to the relevant payment such a dismissal entails.

The Tribunal relied upon Section 139 (1)(b)(i) which states that an employee is considered to have been made redundant if dismissed by reason of redundancy if ; 

‘ the dismissal is wholly or mainly attributable to the fact that his employer has ceased or intends to cease to carry on the business for the purposes of which the employee was employed by him, or to carry on that business in the place where the employee was so employed, or the fact that the requirements of that business for employees to carry out work of a particular kind, or for employees to carry out work of a particular kind in the place where the employee was employed by the employer, have ceased or diminished or are expected to cease or diminish.’

The issue here was that the employer had tried to prevent redundancies by asking all staff to take a reduction in their hours.  When they refused, the employer was left with no option but to dismiss them by terminating their contract.  This is consistent with current case law which states that if the employee does not wish to reduce the workforce, the employee will not have been made redundant. 

The Tribunal held that as the work had diminished to a level that not as many hours were needed to fulfil the role the position would fall into the S139 definition and therefore the employee was to be made redundant.  As such the employee was entitled to a redundancy payment. 

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