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Law for Business

Knowhow - guidance - precedents

11 SEP 2012

Unfair dismissal

Varying employment terms

In Slade v TNT (UK) Limited, the EAT was asked to consider the fairness of dismissing employees for some other substantial reason following an offer of re-engagement on new terms.

TNT's loading-bay operatives, including the claimants, had previously enjoyed an ‘end of sort' bonus, which TNT was seeking to abolish owing to financial pressures. TNT offered a buy-out payment to operatives, as part of negotiations with the union, but this was rejected. TNT subsequently dismissed the operatives and offered to re-engage them on exactly the same terms, minus the bonus entitlement. The claimants rejected the offer and claimed that the re-engagement was unfair because it did not include any element of the buy-out payment previously offered.

The EAT held that the key test was whether TNT had acted within the band of reasonable responses. Given that the operatives had previously rejected the buy-out payments, there was no obligation on TNT to offer the payment again on re-engagement since it had been offered to secure a benefit (ie agreement to the changes it needed). The EAT confirmed that TNT had acted fairly in the circumstances.

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