Recruitment Tests Not Suitable for Redundancy Selection
Using recruitment competency tests for redundancy selection purposes was unreasonable.
In Mental Health Care (UK) Ltd v Biluan, the employer used a series of competency tests normally used in its recruitment process in order to select employees for redundancy. These involved a written test, an individual interview and a group exercise. The assessments were conducted by the HR team, none of whom had any experience of working with those being assessed. The employer did not obtain assessments from managers who had worked with the employees and did not take past appraisals into account as it considered there was insufficient reliable material on which a fair assessment could be made. The selection process used led to some “very surprising” results and the acting manager admitted that some good employees were selected for redundancy.
Two of the employees claimed unfair dismissal and the employment tribunal agreed that their dismissals were unfair. The employer’s appeal failed. The Employment Appeal Tribunal considered it very unusual for an employer to conduct a redundancy selection exercise using recruitment-style assessments, without any reference to past appraisals or the views of managers. The process had produced some surprising results and the tribunal had been entitled to find that the employer had acted unreasonably.
Where employees are being selected for redundancy, a fair selection procedure is a key requirement. Although unusual, it might have been reasonable for the employer to use recruitment-type assessments if it had combined these with appraisals and managerial input from those who knew the staff. The problem for the employer in this case was that it did not have reliable appraisals and it may well have considered that seeking managerial views would introduce an element of subjectivity for which it could be criticised. The case reinforces the need for an appraisal system to be in place under which appraisals are carried out regularly across the workforce.
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