IGA advises garage owners to honour ‘right to appeal’ following furlough redundancies

The Independent Garage Association (IGA) has published advice issued to one of its members concerning the redundancy of a staff member who was previously on furlough.

Reaching out to the IGA, the garage owner asked: “I am a small employer and have had to make someone redundant when they returned from furlough.

“I have already told him he is dismissed, but now he is saying he wants to appeal.

“I don’t think I will change my mind.

“What should I do?”

Independent Garage Association advise

The right of appeal is a very important part of employment law.

In considering whether you have to offer an employee a right of appeal against a decision it really depends on a number of factors, including the decision from which they are appealing and their length of service.

The first thing to say however is that the right of appeal shouldn’t always be viewed as a problem.

A well-run appeal can rectify problems in the original decision, so it is often advisable and best practice to offer an appeal.

The ACAS Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures gives guidance which is taken into account by Tribunals – the Code is essential reading.

In the above scenario of course, an employer should always try to offer an appeal to another officer or manager of the company, who was not involved in the original decision.

Ideally of course they should be more senior than the person who exercised the previous decision and have the right to overturn it if they think it was wrong.

A failure to offer a right of appeal, particularly in a dismissal, will often render a dismissal unfair.

Where there are contractual rights to appeal in the employee’s contract or in the handbook, then it is also the case that an employer’s failure to follow their own procedures is more likely to render any decision unfair and, furthermore, can also give rise to a separate claim for breach of contract.

Tribunals are bound to take into account the size and administrative resources of the employer when looking at how well an appeal is run.

There is case law to the effect that an appeal process does not have to be perfect and the smaller the employer, the more a Tribunal should exercise some discretion or leeway when examining the processes followed.

The Court of Appeal has recently confirmed that in a redundancy situation the absence of an appeal will not of itself be fatal to an employer proving a fair dismissal to a tribunal.

An appeal is just one of other factors to consider when a tribunal consider unfair dismissal on the grounds of redundancy in determining fairness.

That said, as an employer you should wherever possible try to offer the right of appeal.

There are some circumstances with short serving employees under 2 years’ service where this could be questioned, but in such circumstances, you should always seek legal advice.

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