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Am I missing something - redundancy selection process

(8 Posts)
Tippitytoes Sat 23-Mar-13 15:35:49

Hello, I just wondered if anyone could give me a bit of advice on how I was selected for redundancy because I can't see how the way I was selected could be judged fair - but maybe I am missing something.

By means of background I had a European wide role, the company also had a rep located in each of the big European countries doing similar work to me. I reported to the European director with oversight of my work area. Things were a bit strained at work because my boss took exception to me taking maternity leave. He made life quite difficult for me. I am not just saying that, I can demonstrate it and raised a grievance about it. Anyway I went on ML for 12 months and on my first day back at work was told I was at risk of redundancy and surprise surprise was made redundant a few weeks later.

My query relates to how I was selected. I feel my employer took advantage of a fall in revenue to get rid of me (for taking ML and probably because they feared me taking ML again).

Basically they did this by dividing my work between my colleagues - and therefore eliminating my role. They are effectively managing my role as they did while I was on maternity leave and have actually said in writing that it has proven to be effective managing my work in this way so that's how they want to continue. I can't help feeling this is totally unfair and me taking maternity leave is the direct cause of my redundancy. The company is adamant that this isn't unfair in any way. Does anyone know if this sounds legitimate?

The other thing is that my colleagues took on my work. But yet I was considered as a pool of one and there was no selection process.

So effectively, there was a reorganisation, it was decided less people were needed to perform the tasks, my tasks were merged with other roles and I therefore had no work and was made redundant. Isn't there a step missing? When my tasks were allocated to other roles shouldn't there have been a selection process involving me and the other post holders to determine who should perform the remaining roles?

Is it possible that the absence of a selection process could be justified?

If this is a legitimate process it really does seem to be the perfect loophole for an employer to get rid of staff who take maternity leave.

I'd be really grateful for your thoughts

flowery Sat 23-Mar-13 20:03:22

It is possible for the absence of a selection process to be justified. What you could have, for example, is, say, three roles. One director, one manager and one administrator. The manager goes on maternity leave, and they manage without her. Some of her job gets done by the director, some of it gets absorbed by the administrator, some of it doesn't get done at all and some bits get passed to a wide range of other managers.

So there is no similar job. Hers is the only job anything like that and now it doesn't exist. Her job has been divvied up into lots of other people's very different jobs. None of the other people's jobs could be seen as interchangeable with hers, or a suitable match for her skills.

In a situation like that, it may well be fair not to have a selection process.

If there are three people doing the same or a very similar role, and they just manage with two while one of them is on maternity leave, then yes in those circumstances there should be a selection process to decide which of the original three will be redundant.

It does sometimes happen that managing without someone on maternity leave prompts an employer to come to the realisation that they can manage with fewer staff, yes. That can't be avoided and isn't automatically unfair, as long as there is a genuine redundancy situation and a fair selection process where appropriate.

Does your situation bear resemblance to the first or second scenario? Or neither?

Tippitytoes Sat 23-Mar-13 22:33:09

That's really interesting flowery, thanks.

My situation is closer to the second scenario. To keep it anonymous lets pretend I am sales manager, i'm not but the analogy would work...

We are talking about a director (european sales director - my boss), my colleagues (country specific sales managers) and myself (european sales manager). I actually used to do the uk country sales manager role before taking a European role and got excellent appraisals for performing that role. The uk sales manager has actually taken a big chunk of my responsibilities. So my skills certainly match some of the roles who have taken my work. I would argue that I could also do the director role too.

I'm just flabbergasted that there doesn't seem to have been any selection process even though others are doing similar work.

It just seems to have been a case of - ooh we need to reduce head count, who can we lose, erm, well we are managing without Tippitytoes, so let's make her redundant.

And because I wasn't working due to ML that just seems totally unfair.

flowery Sun 24-Mar-13 10:56:10

I imagine they would argue it's nearer the first scenario. If there is a European Sales Director and country-specific sales managers then I can see the rationale for a decision that a European sales manager is a role they can eliminate without having to involve others in a selection process, as doing so might effectively bump someone out of their existing role to put you in it. If there were 3 European Sales Managers and they were going to manage with 2, then absolutely.

I would imagine they would say that in these circumstances involves consultation with the staff, a proposal that they would manage without the European Sales manager role, but an opportunity for you to put forward arguments why a different role could be/should be eliminated instead.

I'm not saying don't appeal it. You don't lose anything by doing so and if you make plenty of noise about them only making the decision because of your maternity leave, you may well get something out of it. But from what you say, that will be their argument.

Tippitytoes Sun 24-Mar-13 15:03:55

Thanks flowery, I can 100% see what you are saying.

But it still just feels wrong to me that both the European director and the country specific sales managers can just be left out of the selection equation. I trust your judgement but isn't it just odd?

I could understand it if neither of the other roles were taking on my responsibilities - the prospect of someone being bumped out of their role if they weren't involved in the reorganisation would also seem wrong. But both roles are involved. Their roles have been changed to incorporate new responsibilities so their roles aren't the same as they were. Why should they automatically be slotted in to their 'new' roles without a selection process with me automatically made redundant? For me their roles are similar to mine.

If I had used the analogy of me being a uk sales manager with my boss being a uk sales director and the others being regional uk sales managers would your answer still be the same?

flowery Sun 24-Mar-13 15:18:07

Let me be clear. My answer, my judgment, isn't that they are right. It sounds like a complex situation and I would be very irresponsible if I formed an opinion on the legalities of the situation based only on what you've said here.

If I knew much more about it, I may advise that what they've done is right and appropriate, and yes using the analogy with everyone being UK I still might hold that opinion. I also don't know enough about their general approach to staff management. If I had a client who wanted to do this to a woman just back from maternity leave, I would advise them that they need an absolutely watertight justification for the process and decision as obviously there are more legal risks than if you take maternity leave out of the equation. I don't know how risk averse they are.

But in a situation like this with amount of similarities between jobs and exact divvying up of responsibilities being significant, I can't possibly tell you what my actual opinion is.

Based on what you've said, and based on their actions so far, I am guessing that if you appeal your dismissal, their defence will be as I've speculated. How watertight that defence would be I have no idea without much more information, but knowing what their defence is likely to be is helpful for you anyway.

I would suggest you appeal is strongly on the grounds you've described and see how you get on.

Xenia Sun 24-Mar-13 15:50:21

That sounds good advice. You may be able to claim some kind of sex discrimination - so perhaps speak to a solicitor.

It does emphasise the point yet again that it can be wiser to "lean in", take a few weeks or months of leave only (I took 2 weeks) on a pragmatic basis no matter what the law says. It is a shame that that is so but it is often the case.

Tippitytoes Sun 24-Mar-13 18:58:31

Great thanks. That's absolutely what I am looking for, others' views so I can understand what the response may be.

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