Children's Society unfairly dismissed employee by failing to provide support during redundancy, tribunal rules

The Children’s Society unfairly dismissed an employee after it did not do enough to help find him a new role within the charity during a redundancy process, an employment tribunal has ruled.

Tribunal documents published this week show that the charity unfairly dismissed Richard Brown after it did not provide “adequate support” to him when searching and applying for other available roles, the tribunal ruled.

The charity said in a statement that it would review its processes in relation to internal vacancies and redundancy mitigation.

Brown worked at the charity in various posts between 2015 and 2020.

His most recent role there was as project lead for Cape, a programme of work to upskill external bodies to deal with impact of parental alcohol misuse on children.

Brown was issued with a redundancy notice by his line manager in February 2020 as the funding for the programme was due to finish at the end of the following month.

The tribunal acknowledged that redundancies occurred regularly at the charity due to the nature of funded projects, and that it was not unreasonable for it to direct employees to a portal to search for redeployment opportunities.

Brown found and applied for a role as a relationship officer within the charity. But tribunal documents show he only submitted a limited statement in support of the application based on the understanding that he would be able to expand on his suitably during an interview, which he was then deemed unsuitable for.

Brown said he was not aware the role would be open to other applicants who were not “at risk”.

He told the tribunal, which was held on 14 and 15 April, that had this been explained to him, he would have prepared a more thorough written application against the essential criteria.

The tribunal documents state: “There was no advice from anywhere on the process or procedure and the claimant got no assistance or support from anyone in making his application, despite asking for support.”

Brown complained to his line manager that the process ignored those already at risk of redundancy.

He later discovered in conversation with the charity’s human resources department that some of the essential criteria his application was judged against were not shared in the job advert.

After appealing the decision to make him redundant, an internal review process admitted that communication with the claimant could have been timelier and better.

As a result, employment judge Liz Ord said in her conclusion: “The respondent should have done more for the claimant than giving him access to a vacancies portal and it should have given him, and others at risk, priority consideration for available posts. It did not do and did not provide adequate support.”

Ord also found that a “paper exercise alone was not sufficient in a redeployment situation” and that “the mischief was compounded by a lack of clarity over what the process would be”.

A spokesperson for The Children’s Society said: “We are committed to ensuring that our people processes and practices are fair, reasonable and inclusive, especially those such as recruitment, redeployment and redundancy.

“We are reviewing the outcome of the tribunal and our processes around mitigation of redundancy and internal vacancies. It's important to us that our people have a good experience at work and this will be our continued focus moving forwards.”

The tribunal documents do not set out whether Brown is entitled to any compensation or when a further hearing to establish any amount might be heard.

Topics:
Management

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