Saturday 18 October 2008

Redundancy selection ruling - LIFO and age discrimination

For a number of years, many employers who couldn't care less about equality have used it as an argument to attack long-standing redundancy agreements.

Traditionally, unions pushed for any redundancy selection (if we couldn't stop compulsory redundancies in the first place) to be on a "Last In, First Out" (LIFO) basis. The arguments for this were firstly that it was objective and prevented management picking and choosing who they wanted to get rid of (often undermining union organisation in the process), and secondly that the longer you work somewhere the more you build your life around that job so the more impact redundancy would have on you. Sadly, the age discrimination practiced by many employers also means it is often harder for older workers to find other employment.

There can sometimes be some genuine equality problems with LIFO, for example where the composition of the workforce has changed significantly over time, and LIFO could result in a much higher proportion of one group being picked than another. This has often been addressed by making LIFO one of a "basket" of criteria.

UNITE has just won a case at the High Court to protect the use of LIFO in redundancy selection against a challenge from Rolls Royce based on the age discrimination legislation.

In a lot of the debates about the age discrimination legislation, employers do seem to lose sight of the fact that the intention of the legislation was to protect workers from discrimination, not to undermine the rights of all workers.


unitemember said...

I think you will find the court did not rule if favour of LIFO alone, but that length of service could be used as part of a set of criteria to select possible redundancy candidates.

Anonymous said...

I am one of those unfortunate compulsory redundancies who was scored incorrectly and unjustly and not offered any redeployment opportunities. I have written again and again to Fujitsu HR who choose to do nothing regarding my situation - GUESS WHAT?...... I am a NON-WHITE FEMALE who is disgusted with the company's behaviour.....

Ian said...

Anonymous - rather than posting here, please contact your rep so that your case can be looked into and you can get some help.


Ian said...

Or contact me by email.

Anonymous said...

LIFO. Lets say a company employs Einstein. A week later they look at their books and find that they have been losing more money than they thought. Einstein has to go while <r Bean, who has been there for twenty years, gets to stay.

Yup, I can see how a union would want that

Ian said...

@Anonymous - try to understand the issues before launching a rant.

Firstly, it would be an odd company employing Einstein and Mr Bean to do the same job. If they were in the same job, it would seem likely that either Mr Bean would be incapable of doing the job, and would be dismissed on capability grounds, or that the job would be a total waste of Einstein's talents. If they're not in similar jobs, they wouldn't be in the same selection pool for redundancy in the first place.

Secondly, as "unitemember" rightly pointed out, we're not talking about LIFO being used as the only criterion for selection - just as part of a set. So presuming Einstein is better at his job than Mr Bean, it is highly likely that Mr Bean would be selected irrespective of length of service.

Thirdly, you talk about "a union would want that". I think you miss the point. The main priority for unions is to save jobs. No matter how redundancy selection is carried out it ends up with people losing their livelihood. Unions don't want redundancy, or selection, at all.

An finally, while Einstein did come out with a few witty comments, I think Mr Bean is far better at his job as a comic character than Einstein would have been, and his employer woudl be well advised to retain his valuable talents.