Key points
§  Add a note hereAlthough redundancy is a legitimate and commonplace reason for dismissal, an employee may nonetheless challenge the fairness or legality of his (or her) selection for redundancy before an employment tribunal. To qualify to do so (unless selected for an inadmissible or unlawful reason – see below), such an employee must have completed at least one year's continuous service by the effective date of termination of his contract of employment. Furthermore, he must have been under normal retiring age at that time. Every such complaint must be 'presented' within three months. A tribunal will not accept a complaint presented 'out of time' unless satisfied that it was not reasonably practicable for the complainant to have acted sooner.
§  Add a note hereIf an employee's complaint is upheld, the tribunal will order the employer either to reinstate or re-engage the dismissed employee and/or to pay that employee an award of compensation.
Add a note hereRedundancy and trade union activities
§  Add a note hereIf an employee can show that he (or she) was one of several employees holding similar positions, who were not made redundant, and that the reason (or, if more than one, the principal reason) for his selection for redundancy was his participation in the activities or membership of, an independent trade union or his refusal to join or remain a member of any trade union or of a particular trade union, his dismissal will be regarded in law as having been inadmissible and unfair (section 153, Trade Union & Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992). Such an employee can pursue a complaint of unfair dismissal before an employment tribunal regardless of his (or her) age or length of service at the material time.
Add a note hereOther inadmissible reasons
§  Add a note hereIt is inadmissible, unlawful and unfair to select an employee for redundancy because of his (or her) race, colour, nationality or ethnic origins; or on grounds of sex, marital status or disability; or because the employee (as a shop worker or betting worker) had exercised, or proposed to exercise, his legal right not to work on Sundays; or had attempted or proposed to carry out his legitimate duties as an elected employee representative or as a trustee of a relevant occupational pension scheme; or because he had asserted any other statutory employment right. The same applies to the selection for redundancy of an employee who had carried out (or proposed to carry out) his duties as a safety representative or as a member of a safety committee, or as a representative of employee safety, or as a person designated by his employer to maintain a 'watching brief ' on health and safety issues, or who had expressed concern about his employer's health and safety arrangements and had taken action to protect himself and others from danger (ibid. section 105). Again, an employment tribunal will entertain a complaint of unfair dismissal in such circumstances, regardless of the complainant's age or length of service at the material time.
§  Add a note hereAn employer who has a policy in place for selecting candidates for redundancy (for example 'last in, first out'), will need to satisfy an employment tribunal that he had sound business reasons for departing from that policy. Although the 'customary arrangement and agreed procedures' provisions of the former Employment Protection (Consolidation) Act 1978 were repealed in 1994, an arbitrary departure from any such arrangement or agreed procedure would be in breach of an employee's contractual rights. In any event, when consulting appropriate representatives about 'the proposed method of selecting employees who may be dismissed', the employer must do so with a view to reaching agreement (per section 188(2) and (4)(d), Trade Union & Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992).