The use of assessment centre competency tests as part of a redundancy selection procedure was unreasonable
An EAT decision provides a reminder to all employers that any departure from the conventional approach to selection criteria during a redundancy exercise must be treated with caution. The EAT found that an employer had acted unreasonably when it used a series of competency tests normally used in its recruitment process to select staff for redundancy.
In an attempt to avoid subjectivity and bias, the employer had developed a very detailed selection procedure which included the competency tests. The process was operated and controlled by the HR department without any input from the affected employees' line managers and without regard to past appraisals.
Notwithstanding that the results were unexpected the employer went ahead and dismissed in accordance with the results. The EAT found that the employers complete faith in the chosen process had caused them to lose touch with ‘common sense’ and ‘fairness’.
Although a recruitment-style assessment centre may be appropriate in some large-scale redundancy exercises, it will not generally be acceptable to use it as an alternative to traditional selection methods. The case also emphasises that employees' line managers will often have an important role to play in the application of selection criteria.
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