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Getting It Right: Redundancies - Bumping

Getting It Right: Redundancies - Bumping
Richard Hiron Dec 21,2020
blog post

"Bumping" is another curious term to those unfamiliar with human resources and employment law.

Sadly, it isn't linked to a popular children's character or to a funfair ride; indeed, it often does not lead to much enjoyment at all!

Bumping is when an employee who is at risk of redundancy is moved across to another section or department of the business to take over someone else's role as an alternative to being made redundant. The generally-accepted position is that the person who is displaced by this move is then considered to be redundant instead.

There is a fine distinction in bumping scenarios, which is best illustrated by an example.

Jake, an event organiser, is dismissed from his role as a result of long-term sickness absence. Sheena, a marketing manager who is at risk of redundancy, is placed in Jake’s role as an alternative to being made redundant. Jake’s dismissal therefore has nothing to do with redundancy, as it was caused by his long-term sickness absence, even though Sheena has been placed in his role as a means of avoiding a redundancy.

However, if Jake was on long-term sickness absence and a restructure was taking place to merge the marketing manager and event organiser positions, this could be a situation in which Jake’s dismissal was caused mainly by redundancy.

There is an incredibly fine distinction here and employers who consider this approach should receive legal advice before bumping employees into other roles as a means of avoiding a redundancy.

It is also important for employers to understand that bumping must happen within the same business or business structure, again best illustrated by an example.

Tony is the managing director of a firm of accountants who has to make his junior accountant, Sean redundant. Tony’s friend, Emma is the managing director of another firm of accountants that has no link to Tony’s firm. She has an opening for a junior accountant and Sean is moved into that role. This is not an example of bumping as the respective firms run by Tony and Emma have no corporate link.

However, if the businesses were associated (i.e. if Tony’s and Emma’s firms fell within the same corporate structure) or if the employee at risk of redundancy was employed by a local education authority, then it might be possible to bump the employee into another workplace within that structure. 

This article is intended for information purposes only and not as a substitute for legal advice. TP Legal does not accept any responsibility for any decisions that you may make as a result of reading this article.