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Bumping and redundancy

The Employment Appeal Tribunal in the case of Mirab v Mentor Graphics UK Ltd has considered “bumping” in the context of redundancy situations.

Background

The Claimant was employed as a Director by Mentor Graphics (UK) Limited (“the Company”). There was a reorganisation and it was suggested that his team should be reduced which in turn would mean that his responsibilities would also reduce. The Claimant objected saying that the reorganisation was effectively a demotion into an Accounts Manager role which he was not prepared to do. However, the Claimant ultimately accepted the changes but did not become an Account Manager.

Some time later, the Claimant was put at risk of redundancy. Consultation meetings took place and vacancy lists were sent but nothing suitable was found and the Claimant was subsequently made redundant.

The Claimant brought a claim for unfair dismissal and the tribunal had to consider whether the Company should have considered bumping an Account Manager.

What is bumping?

Bumping is the process of moving a potentially redundant employee into another role and dismissing the employee currently performing that role.

Decision

The unfair dismissal claim was unsuccessful.

As the Claimant had not suggested bumping, and he had previously indicated during the earlier reorganisation that he did not want to be an Account Manager, bumping was not considered by the Company. The Employment Tribunal held that the onus was on the Claimant to suggest bumping.

However, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (“EAT”) disagreed. It held that the tribunal had been wrong to create a rule that an employer does not have to consider bumping unless the employee suggests it.

The case was remitted to the tribunal to decide whether the Company should have considered bumping.

Comment

Although there is no general obligation on an employer to consider bumping, in some circumstances, it may be unreasonable not to do so. If an employee at risk of redundancy raises the possibility of bumping then an employer should be seen to consider it.

 

 

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