The Daily Mail reports that the owner of a bus company in Somerset has unceremoniously dismissed the entire workforce through an internal message.
Sydney Hardy allegedly told the staff of Nippy Bus that he had had enough, he could not work with the employees a minute longer, and they should regard themselves as being dismissed with immediate effect.
Understandably the employees were rather miffed at this development.
Expect Tribunal Claims to follow! Whilst redundancy is a potentially fair reason for dismissal, an Employment Tribunal will usually expect to see evidence of proper consultation and warning to the employees that they are at risk of redundancy, a fair selection process being carried out and proper consideration being given to alternatives such as redeployment.
Where an employer contemplates making at least 20 employees within a 90 day period there is a requirement for a minimum of 30 days' consultation and where 100 or more are affected the minimum period is 45 days. In these circumstances there are also quite complicated rules about the involvement and/or selection of representatives from the workforce for the purposes of consultation.
Get this wrong and in addition to any individual claims for Unfair Dismissal then each affected employee is potentially entitled to a "protective award" of 1 week's pay for each week of the period for which consultation is required, with no cap on the amount of the week's pay for these purposes.
If the employer is a large one then any mistake could be an expensive one, especially as the starting point is for Tribunals to award the maximum protective award unless the employer can show a good reason otherwise.
Consultation is supposed to take place when proposals are at a formative stage. Barring a completely unexpected emergency therefore, employees should not normally find themselves being made redundant "out of the blue."
Employers are strongly advised to take proper advice if they consider that they may have to shut the doors.