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Does an Employee Need to Ask Their Employer to 'Bump' a Colleague Into Redundancy?

on Tuesday, 01 May 2018.

Many healthcare practices are facing challenges around restructure and redundancy exercises. Practice Managers may be familiar with the concept of "bumping" as part of a redundancy exercise.

The recent case of Mirab v Mentor Graphics (UK) Limited provides a useful example of how bumping works in practice, and when a practice should take bumping into account.

Bumping occurs when an employee whose role is at risk of redundancy is moved into an alternative role - and the individual in that alternative role is dismissed as redundant instead. In this case, the employer had determined that the employee's role was no longer required. A dispute arose as to the extent of the employer's duty to consider bumping subordinate colleagues in order to slot the employee into an alternative role rather than making the employee redundant.

The question that the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) looked at was whether the employee needed to expressly ask the employer to consider bumping in order for a duty to consider bumping to arise.

The EAT concluded that there was no specific rule stating that an employer must always consider bumping in order to fairly dismiss on the grounds of redundancy. Similarly, however, there is no requirement for the employee to also ask for bumping before the employer is placed under an obligation to consider it. Whether bumping is something that an employer ought to investigate and implement entirely depends on the particular facts of the case, and whether the possibility of redeployment - and bumping - is a reasonable response to the employee being placed at risk of redundancy.

Best Practice

Whilst it may not be suitable in every circumstance where redundancy is considered, the EAT's decision does mean that healthcare practices should consider the possibility of redeploying a redundant employee into another employee's role as part of its general consideration of alternatives to redundancy. Healthcare practices should not simply fail to consider bumping until the employee suggests it as a way to avoid their dismissal.

For more information, please contact Gemma Cawthray in our Employment Law team on 0117 314 5266.

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