The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has found a tribunal was wrong to strike out a claim for unfair dismissal because the claimant had volunteered for redundancy.

The case is an important example for Watford employers to understand that even where an employee volunteers for redundancy, they retain all their usual employment rights and can bring a claim for unfair dismissal.

In the case of White v HC-One Oval Ltd, Ms White was a part-time receptionist at a care home in East Sussex run by HC-One Oval. HC-One proposed to reduce the number of receptionist and administrative staff and Ms White was provisionally selected for redundancy. Ms White ultimately volunteered for redundancy.

After the end of her employment Ms White lodged a claim for unfair dismissal alleging that the redundancy process had not been genuine. HC-One denied these allegations.

The Employment Tribunal (ET) held that Ms White’s claim had no reasonable prospect of success because she had volunteered for redundancy. Ms White appealed on the basis that the ET had erred in law in its decision.

Whilst redundancy is a potentially fair reason for dismissal, the employer still needs to follow a fair selection and consultation process in order to justify dismissal on the grounds of redundancy.

The EAT allowed Ms White’s appeal. The ET’s decision appeared to assume that voluntary redundancy was automatically fair - but the EAT determined that this was incorrect as a matter of law.

In this case, there was a dispute between the parties as to history pre-dating the dismissal and the ET heard no evidence and made no findings regarding that history.