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HR Tip - selection for redundancy

20th Nov 2003
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These questions are being answered by Learn HR, a market leader in the provision of HR and payroll training and nationally-recognised professional qualifications.

Q: To save money our company abolished the position of receptionist. However they gave the receptionist the job of a payroll clerk who had much shorter service and dismissed the clerk. Surely that cannot be right since her job was not redundant?

A: In law, it is the person dismissed, not the job, that is "redundant". Briefly, the definition of redundancy is that the employer requires fewer people of a particular type in a particular place and, as a result, someone is dismissed. That someone in law is redundant. Even so, the redundancy must be carried out properly if the employer is to avoid unfair dismissal claims.

Your company could safely have dismissed the receptionist on the basis that he or she was the only person in that function. However, employers may look at a broader group of their employees and make a selection on an objective assessment of the needs of the business. For example, it would have been wrong to dismiss the clerk because she dressed too informally but it seems right that she was selected on the basis of her much shorter service if the receptionist could do payroll work.

The dismissal of someone other than the incumbent of a job that is disappearing is called “bumping”.

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