A former local authority library manager who was made redundant amidst swingeing funding cuts has won a fresh chance to prove that her dismissal was unfair on the basis that she was not offered a trial period in an alternative post.
Budget constraints had led the council to cut the number of its libraries in half and to reduce the number of library managers from six to two. Following a competition, the woman failed to win appointment to one of those posts but was offered an alternative job as a customer service officer, a position at a lower grade and which was less well paid.
The council conceded that she had a contractual entitlement to a four-week trial period in her new job but that this was not offered to her. Issues arose in respect of her health and the location at which she would work and she was ultimately made redundant. Despite the council’s admitted breach of contract, an Employment Tribunal (ET) ruled that it was not so serious as to render her dismissal unfair.
In upholding the woman’s challenge to that ruling, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) found that the ET had in part based its decision on a repealed section of the Employment Rights Act 1996. That was an error which might well have affected the outcome of the case. In those circumstances, the matter was sent back to the same ET for reconsideration in the light of the EAT’s directions.