Bumping Redundancy

By Deborah Manktelow
30 Apr 2021

During tough times, a business may have to consider making redundancies to ensure its survival.

Part of a fair redundancy selection process involves making a pool of employees at risk of redundancy, with you choosing eventual candidates for redundancy.

But what if you realise you can assign your initial candidate to a different role currently being carried out by someone else? This is where bumping in redundancy situations can arise.

Is bumping in redundancy legal? What are the rules? It’s quite a rare occurrence, meaning information on it isn’t too readily available.

Read more to have redundancy bumping explained, with the legalities, pros and cons laid out for you. Ensure you make an informed decision with this guide.

What is redundancy bumping?

Redundancy bumping in the UK is where an employee who is to be made redundant is put into another role held by someone else.

For example, if employee A was being considered for redundancy and employee B was in a lower or horizontal position, it would be considered redundancy bumping if employee A was offered employee B's role and employee B was made redundant instead.

This obviously isn’t a smooth process. Employee B will likely feel irked and challenge the decision, even if you follow a fair process. 

Employment law on redundancy bumping

Now, is redundancy bumping legal? Bumping redundancy law is complicated and can easily lead to unfair dismissal claims being made against you.

While it’s complicated and uncommon, it’s also fully legal as long as you have followed all the other fair redundancy procedures.

There are no specific redundancy bumping rules, but The House of Lords has explained and approved the concept of bumping in the

“If there is a reduction in the requirement for employees in one section of an employer’s business and an employee who becomes surplus or redundant is transferred to another section of that business, an employee who is displaced by the transfer of the first employee and is dismissed by reason of that displacement is dismissed by reason of redundancy.”

When deciding on whether bumping should be part of the redundancy process, the employer should consider:

  • Whether there is a vacancy.
  • How different the two jobs are.
  • The difference in pay between the two jobs.
  • The two employees’ relative length of service.
  • The qualifications of the employee in danger of redundancy.

Bumping redundancy and unfair dismissal

In law, there have been a handful of cases where employees who were made redundant won their unfair dismissal cases.

This is because their employer didn’t consider redundancy bumping as part of the suitable alternative employment procedure.

This means for employers that you can’t overlook bumping as a suitable alternative during dismissals for redundancy. Some employers assume it only needs to be considered if an employee asks about it, but this case highlights the opposite.

The case of Mirab v Mentor Graphics UK

In the case, the Employment Tribunal had concluded that the employee’s dismissal had been fair.

The reason given for that conclusion was that the tribunal didn’t expect the employer to consider bumping, because the employee had not asked them to.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal overruled the Employment Tribunal on this point, saying that there was no requirement for the employee to raise bumping in order for it to be a consideration.

The test is whether the employer’s actions in the redundancy process are reasonable in the circumstances. Here, Mr Mirab had shown during the consultation process that he may be prepared to take the lower position, but something the employer didn’t explore further.

They, therefore, sent the claim for unfair dismissal back to the Employment Tribunal for them to reconsider this point.

What this means for employers

Bumping needs to be part of the overall assessment an employer makes when they are following a fair redundancy process.

So even if you are dealing with what may seem to be a standalone redundancy, it means that you need to look at the wider picture across the organisation to think about whether there is any scope for bumping.

While it will still likely be a rare occurrence, there needs to be documented proof that you considered this option.

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About the Author

Headshot of Deborah Mantkelow

Deborah Manktelow is a CIPD Qualified HR professional with over 7 years’ experience in generalist HR management working within the Construction Industry.

Working for a National provider of Insulation provided Deborah with the opportunity to strategically support Operations across the UK, supporting HR functions and the wider business.

Deborah is Croner’s Advice Manager, taking responsibility for overseeing the provision of advice to all Croner clients, bringing together our Corporate, Simplify and Association service provisions.

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