Former REC manager agrees to £35k payout in unfair dismissal case

A former Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) sales manager will receive a £35,000 settlement after a London employment tribunal on Wednesday upheld her claim that she was unfairly dism

A former Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) sales manager will receive a £35,000 settlement after a London employment tribunal on Wednesday upheld her claim that she was unfairly dismissed from the REC in May 2009.

Maggie Pattinson was one of 11 REC employees who lost their jobs through redundancy in 2009. Whilst concluding that the 2009 redundancies at the REC were legitimate given the poor economic climate, the tribunal described the process surrounding Pattinson’s departure from the trade body as “wholly unfair”, and roundly criticised the REC for failing to hold “meaningful or really any” proper consultation meetings with her when her job was made redundant.

In her comments around the decision, chairman Ms H Norris went on to describe the so-called consultation meetings between Pattinson and REC commercial director Martyn Noble as having “a total lack of structure” and were held on “an ad hoc basis”. Noble, a self-employed consultant, has worked at the REC since August 2008. He has never been an employee of the trade body.

In its decision, the tribunal also found that it had been “wholly inappropriate” for REC chief executive Kevin Green to handle Pattinson’s appeal once her job had been made redundant because he was involved in the decision to eliminate the position. Green had argued that it was appropriate because he was acquainted with all of the facts and issues surrounding the decision. Ms Norris referred back to his argument in announcing the tribunal’s decision saying that it then would have been appropriate for Green to hear the tribunal case.

Pattinson’s job was made redundant at the same time as six others as the REC attempted to cut costs in the face of the global economic downturn. A few months previous, an initial round of redundancies had, among other job cuts, eliminated the trade body’s HR department.

The tribunal noted that the background to the decision to eliminate Pattinson’s job could not be studied because there were no notes of management team meetings at which Green said redundancies had been discussed. Green had said there was no one to take notes because the role of his assistant was among those at risk of redundancy and the person holding that role at the time was excluded from such meetings.

Pattinson had worked for the REC since 2004. After the decision, Pattinson told Recruiter that taking the case to tribunal was “not just about the money. It was about the principle, and about the way I was treated” by REC management and Noble.

Late this afternoon, Green issued a comment about the proceedings and said the REC was “extremely disappointed” with the decision to uphold Pattinson’s claim. He said that the REC “took and acted upon legal advice extensively” during the course of the redundancy.

“We followed this advice to such an extent that we were indemnified against any loss, so this decision will not cost our members anything,” said Green.

Green went on to say that the REC was “considering” an appeal “as we remain convinced the process used was fair and reasonable”.

The REC statement said that further comment could not be made as it might prejudice the outcome of a potential appeal.

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