In Packman v Fauchon, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) appeared to resolve a potential case law conflict when it confirmed that it is not always necessary for there to be a reduction in the headcount of employees for their to be a redundancy.
The EAT held that if the amount of work available for the same number of employees is reduced then a dismissal caused wholly or mainly for that reason is also redundancy.
The claimant was a book-keeper. Her employer had a downturn in business and introduced an accountancy software package which reduced the number of hours which it was necessary for her to work. It tried to persuade the claimant to cut down her hours but she refused and was dismissed.
The employment tribunal held that the downturn in business meant there was a diminishing need for book-keeping. Since the claimant did not agree to a significant reduction in her hours, the reason for her dismissal was redundancy. The EAT approved this approach and disapproved of an earlier case of Aylward v Glamorgan Holiday Home Ltd (EAT/0167/02) which suggested otherwise.
Unfortunately the uncertainty in this area has not been entirely resolved. In a subsequent case, Welch v The Taxi Owners Association (Grangemouth) Ltd, the EAT in Scotland held that a telephone operator was not made redundant where there was a decrease in the total amount of work available for her but an on-going need for some of her work to be done on a part-time basis. This demonstrates the difficulty of these types of cases where the line between a change to terms and conditions and redundancy can be hard to draw.