A redundancy exercise may be based on reasonable criteria yet flaws in the scoring system used to assess employees’ performance may still render a dismissal unfair. In a case on point, an Employment Tribunal (ET) identified a number of errors and peculiarities in a scoring procedure that led to an agency worker wrongly losing his job.
Faced with a business downturn arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, the employer selected a group of eight workers on the basis of their length of service, from which five would be made redundant. There was no dispute that there was a genuine redundancy situation and the ET found that the assessment criteria used for selecting those who would lose their jobs were reasonable.
In nevertheless upholding the worker’s unfair dismissal complaint, the ET found that the scoring system used was so obviously unfair and likely to produce a perverse outcome that it was not within the range of reasonable options open to an employer. Giving an example, the ET noted that the system applied meant that a worker with a poor disciplinary record would keep his job over one with an exemplary record just because the former had completed one simple training course.
Certain criteria were given excessive weight over others and, but for a careless error that was made when scoring his absence record, the worker would have kept his job. The unfairness was far from cured by an appeal process in which radically different criteria were employed. At that stage, he was unfairly penalised in that his strengths in training and team leadership were wholly left out of account.
The ET found no evidence that the worker had been targeted for redundancy due to his outspokenness in making complaints. However, aspects of the scoring process were peculiar or highly unusual and there was circumstantial evidence that one of his colleagues, who kept his job, benefited from some form of favouritism, whether conscious or unconscious. The amount of the worker’s compensation would be assessed at a further hearing, if not agreed.