In a recent case called Valimulla v Al Khair Foundation, the Claimant worked as a liaison officer covering the North-West of England. There were other employees who carried out a similar role in other geographic locations. Work for liaison officers decreased across the country during the Covid pandemic. The Respondent placed the Claimant at risk of redundancy in a pool of one. The other liaison officers were not placed at risk. Three consultation meetings were held. But there was no consultation about the appropriateness of the pool. The Claimant was dismissed and subsequently claimed unfair dismissal.

The Employment Tribunal (ET) decided that the Claimant had been fairly dismissed for redundancy. It accepted the Respondent’s submission that the Claimant was in a self-selecting pool of one. It found that the process was not so flawed as to be unfair. The Claimant appealed.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT), allowing the appeal, held that consultation on redundancy had to take place at a time when it could make a difference. The Respondent had not consulted with the Claimant about the pool for selection. The ET had also failed to consider whether choosing a pool of one was a reasonable approach in this particular case. 

Therefore, the EAT substituted a finding of unfair dismissal (on procedural grounds) because of the failure to consult about pooling.

This is an important case and, in summary, is a useful reminder that employers should always consult on the proposed pool for redundancy – especially when picking a pool of only one.