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Length of service may be valid criterion

Posted on 2nd June 2009
Case law

The Court of Appeal held that the use of length of service as a "deciding factor" in a redundancy selection matrix is lawful.

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length of service may be a valid criterion as part of a wider list

Rolls-Royce Plc v Unite the Union [2009] Court of Appeal

Background and decision

Rolls-Royce applied to the High Court for a declaration that the use of length of service as a "deciding factor" in a redundancy selection matrix was unlawful. The employer was worried that this criterion breached the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006. Unite argued that the use of length of service in this case was acceptable and could be objectively justified. The High Court agreed and on appeal the Court of Appeal has upheld the decision.

In practice

This case should not be read as giving employers the go ahead to rely on length of service in every redundancy selection exercise. What is important to note is that length of service may be a valid criterion as part of a wider list of selection criteria. Length of service should not be the only factor used to select employees for redundancy. If it is used to make a selection between two employees who have the same scores then length of service may well be a valid deciding factor.

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