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An Employment Tribunal in Reading recently considered a case of dismissal on the grounds of redundancy in the context of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRC).  

Background

The claimant was employed as a live-in carer.  

In February 2020, the individual she provided care to went into hospital and then moved into a care home. 

Accordingly, the claimant was no longer required to provide live-in care. This coincided with the original COVID-19 lockdown.  

In May 2020, the respondent wrote to the claimant to advise that they could not offer alternative live-in care work. The claimant’s request to be furloughed under CJRC was summarily “shot down”. 

In July 2020, the respondent wrote to the claimant giving notice of dismissal on the grounds of redundancy. 

Decision

The Employment Tribunal accepted that the claimant was dismissed because of redundancy but that her dismissal was unfair due to (a) the availability of CJRC and (b) the lack of an effective appeal mechanism.  

…in July 2020, a reasonable employer would have given consideration to whether the claimant should be furloughed to avoid being dismissed on grounds of redundancy.

The reasons cited by the respondent for refusing to furlough were “inadequate if not vengeful”. 

Further, the internal appeal was nothing more than a rubber-stamp of the impugned decision. 

Comment

Although not binding, this decision does give an insight into the current thinking on furlough and the need for employers consider alternatives to redundancy for “at risk” staff.   

Further, the existence, or otherwise, of an effective appeal mechanism will feed into the perception of fairness of the entire procedure. 

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By Paul Sullivan FRSA

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