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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
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There is a chance I will be made redundant as my office in

Resolved Question:

There is a chance I will be made redundant as my office in Sheffield is closing down. I transferred here last September but my contract still says Manchester. The office in Manchester is staying open and the role I do in Sheffield continues in Manchester. Does the company have to consider all the people doing my role in both the Sheffield and Manchester offices for redundancy or can they just terminate me as my role will not exist in Sheffield?
And does the fact my contract say Manchester make any difference?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.

Ben Jones : Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. How long have you worked there for?
Customer:

5 years

Customer:

I have been in the Sheffield office since September 2013, but I have worked for the company since 9th January 2009

Customer:

hello?

Ben Jones :

Do people from the Manchester office work in Sheffield and vice versa, is there such an interchange of personnel?

Customer:

No, all the Sheffield staff are from the Manchester office though

Customer:

The company decided to expand into Sheffield in September last year, the finance director has now said they cannot afford to fund the expansion and as such they are pulling out of the Sheffield market

Customer:

(however we will continue to provide services in Sheffield but run it from the Manchester office)

Ben Jones :

ok let me get my response ready please

Ben Jones :

When a redundancy situation arises, there is a legal obligation on an employer to ensure that it applies a fair method of selection when deciding on who is to be made redundant. The general requirement is that a fair and objective method should be applied.


 


The first step is identifying the pool of employees from which the selection will be made. Often that could be a particular job, a department, even a whole office. The employer only has to show that its choice of pool was within the range of reasonable responses. This could often be linked to the needs of the business, for example a need to reduce a particular expense linked to a team, outsourcing certain work, etc.


 


The general rules state that when deciding on the choice of pool, the employer should start by considering two questions, which will help the identify which employees should be included:



  • Which particular kind of work is disappearing?

  • Which employees perform the particular kind of work which is disappearing?


 


There has been previous case law that dealt with the issue of different offices and whether they should be treated differently or as one establishment. For example, where an employer carries out similar work at more than one site, it may be unfair for an employer to only include employees at one site within the pool, even if that site is closing completely. The relevant case to back that up is Highland Fish Farmers v Thorburn where the employer needed to make eight redundancies out of a workforce of 50 spread over a number of sites. It decided to close one site altogether (Site A) as it was making a loss. It dismissed all the employees working on that site, plus a few others from other sites. Two of the dismissed employees from Site A had previously worked on another site (Site B) and wanted to keep their jobs and go back to that site. They argued that both sites should have been considered as a single pool. The tribunal held that the employers had acted unfairly in treating Site A in isolation, saying that "any reasonable employer faced with two sites in geographical proximity and providing mutual support would not have focused on one single site as the pool for selection.”


 


So there is an argument that if the two sites in your case are in close geographical proximity (that is not defined anywhere unfortunately but in this case it is only 40-50 miles, that both sites should be considered together for the redundancy exercise.

Customer:

That's brilliant thank you

Ben Jones :

You are welcome

Customer:

That answers my question. And I think as we all have contracts with Manchester on that might be a bit of a help in deciding the 2 locations are really as one, and we do maintain a desk in the office for us to use if we cannot due to the weather get over to the Sheffield

Customer:

and our amendment to contract form only stated a change in salary not a change in location.

Ben Jones :

that may help but it is the intentions that would count, so if it was intended for this to be a permanent move to Manchester, even if the contracts were not amended it would be considered tht this is what the formal intentions were and that not updating the contract was just an oversight. Still, there are other paths you can follow to argue your position, as mentioned above

Customer:

Brilliant thank you

Ben Jones :

No problem, hope that's helped.

Customer:

Certainly has thank you

Ben Jones :

great, thank you

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