Home Knowledge Unfair Dismissal in a Valid Redundancy Situation

Unfair Dismissal in a Valid Redundancy Situation


The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) recently made an award of €120,000 to a former employee (Complainant) of the Irish based sales operation of Econocom Digital Finance Ltd (Econocom). 

Econocom argued that the Complainant’s termination of employment was a valid redundancy arising out of the closure of its Irish based sales operation.  Following his termination in July 2020, the Complainant  claimed that he had been unfairly dismissed. 

The WRC Adjudication Officer (Adjudication Officer) accepted that a valid redundancy situation existed and that employers are entitled to close all or any part of their business. However, the WRC found that the employer did not adhere “to the standard of reasonableness that a reasonable employer would have shown” in similar circumstances.

Whilst the WRC decision touched on a number of issues, it is a timely reminder to employers that redundancies are, at their core, a type of dismissal.  The cloak of redundancy does not provide a waiver from the employers requirement to comply with the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977-2015 (UD legislation). 

Reasonable Procedure

The UD legislation recognises the right of an employer to dismiss an employee due to redundancy.   However, that right is predicated on the selection of employees for redundancy based on fairness and adherence to an agreed procedure or a code of practice regarding dismissals.

In the absence of an agreed procedure, employers must ensure that fair procedures that routinely apply to any dismissal are afforded to the employee being made redundant.  These include the right to notice, the right to be represented at meetings, the right of the employee to respond to the employer’s decision to make the job redundant, and the right of appeal.

The Adjudication Officer noted as follows:  

  • Right to Notice – The Complainant was not given any advance notice that his meeting with the managing director and the HR director related to a redundancy process or the termination of his employment.
  • Right to Representation – The Complainant was not afforded the right to be accompanied or represented at the meeting.
  • Right to respond – The Complainant’s detailed response to Econocom’s decision was not properly considered by Econocom.
  • Appeal – The Complainant was not offered the right to appeal the decision to make his role redundant.  

Consultation Requirement

The Adjudication Officer described the lack of consultation afforded to the Complainant, having regard to his 15 years of service with Econocom, as “disrespectful”.  The Adjudication Officer was clear that engagement with an employee who is the target of redundancy is the cornerstone of reasonable treatment.

The Adjudication Officer rejected the argument that consideration of alternatives to redundancy was futile in the circumstances. She highlighted the Complainant’s skills in sales and languages, understanding of the organisation, and the international nature of Econocom – none of which were considered before the redundancy. The Adjudication Officer also criticised Econocom for not engaging with the Complainant about the payment terms of his redundancy.

Authority to dismiss

The Complainant submitted that the Managing Director of Econocom’s UK entity did not have the authority to dismiss him,  as the Econocom Irish entity employed him. The Adjudication Officer found that the Managing Director had responsibility for Irish operations and despite being employed by a different legal entity, had the relevant authority to make the Complaint’s role redundant. 


The Complainant was awarded compensation of €120,000, which equated to one year’s gross pay. 

The WRC decision should serve as a reminder to all employers that even in a genuine redundancy situation, employees are entitled to fair and reasonable procedures, including fair and legitimate consultation. 

Employers should take care to properly consider each redundancy situation and engage meaningfully with affected employees. 


Contributed by Jenny Martin and Oisín O’Callaghan