In the case of Mirab v Mentor Graphics (UK) Ltd, the EAT recently considered the question of whether an employer is obliged to consider “bumping” an employee facing redundancy, even if an employee does not raise it as an alternative to dismissal.
Bumping is the practice of redeploying an employee whose role is redundant into another role and instead dismissing the other employee due to redundancy.
In the case of Mirab, the employee claimed that the redundancy dismissal was unfair as his employer, Mentor Graphics (UK) Ltd, had not considered all alternatives to dismissal. The Tribunal at first instance disagreed and held that the dismissal had been fair. It also found that the employer had done enough to consider reasonable alternatives to dismissal in the circumstances and that it was not obliged to consider “bumping” Mr Mirab as he had not raised it as a possibility.
The EAT held that the Tribunal had made the decision in error and that there was no hard and fast rule stating that the employee must raise bumping before an employer is obliged to consider it as a possible alternative to a dismissal. However, it was also accepted that an employer is not always obliged to consider bumping for a redundancy dismissal to be fair. Instead, the EAT found that the question is always for the tribunal to decide whether what the employer did fell within the range of reasonable responses and that such a decision must be made on the particular facts of each case.
The case has been remitted back to the Employment Tribunal to reconsider the decision in the light of the EAT’s judgment.