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“BUMPING” in a redundancy situation – is this legal in Ireland?

What is BUMPING?

Bumping in a redundancy situation occurs when Employee A’s position is to be made redundant, but Employee A is instead moved into the position of Employee B, and Employee B is dismissed by reason of redundancy.

While Bumping is relatively well established in the UK, the practice is almost non-existent in Ireland and has rarely been referred to in decisions of the EAT.

However a recent case of Bennett v Bunzl Ireland (UD 2409/2009) which involved the claimant successfully arguing that he had been unfairly dismissed, was awarded €40,000 compensation.

The company in this case lost the case not because there was no true case of redundancy or that the redundancy was deemed to be unfair, the redundancy was in fact fair due to the particular business and the financial situation of the company but the EAT considered the actions of the company to be unreasonable within the meaning of the Unfair Dismissals Acts.

This isn’t the first time that “unreasonableness” has tripped up an employer when it comes to decisions of redundancy. The employer in this case did not consider all other alternatives to redundancy, providing information and/or consulting with the employee, allowing the employee to put forward his/her own alternatives to redundancy and finally, that the decision to proceed with the redundancy was taken following adequate consideration by the employer of all the relevant facts in question. In addition, if a selection process was necessary the employer must be able to show that the pool of employees was correctly identified and that the selection criteria were fairly and objectively chosen and implemented. 

So should Employee A have been moved back to his former role and Employee B selected for redundancy instead?  According to the EAT, they referenced a UK case of Thomas and Betts Manufacturing Ltd v Harding, and suggested that in this instance, the company Bunzl had failed to explore with the claimant the possibility of him reverting to his former position and so had not acted reasonably.

If your organisation is in a position where it needs to reduce costs and is considering redundancy, get in touch with us here at Voltedge, we can offer you advice and support through out this process, contact@voltedge.ie , we’d love to hear from you.