The Importance of Meaningful Consultation

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The importance of consultation in the event of a variation or change to a job should not be underestimated. The Collins English Dictionary definition of consultation is: meeting for advice or information. So this would suggest a meeting should take place between an employer and their employee to inform/advise that the employee’s job is changing. The employer is obliged to give information to their employees of the changes afoot and how they affect the employees. i.e. is the role redundant or are there changes to their roles and the duties they perform? A recent employment tribunal case highlighted the importance of consultation between an employer and their employee. The case highlights the consequences of not going through meaningful consultation. The employer wanted to make some changes to a particular role and felt the current employee (Mrs N) was incapable of taking on extra responsibility, so the employer dismissed Mrs N and found a new employee (Ms R) who was capable of fulfilling the new role. But, because the employer had failed to consult with Mrs N about the changes to the role, the dismissal was found to be unfair. This is despite the likelihood Mrs N would have been made redundant anyway (a fair dismissal) if a fair procedure had been followed, i.e. consultation had taken place. Mrs N had been denied the opportunity to say whether she could have taken on more responsibility and her employer had failed to give her notice that she was being made redundant. Mrs N was successful in claiming unfair dismissal and won a significant compensatory award. It is vital that companies carry out meaningful consultation with employees when there is a need to change any aspect of the employee’s role.

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