Miss Simpson was an insurance consultant who worked in London. Whilst away on maternity leave, her employer restructured their business by closing down a number of retail outlets, and moving their business to call centres in Cheltenham, Burnley and Northern Ireland. Miss Simpson issued claims for unfair dismissal, automatic unfair dismissal, race discrimination and racial harassment, all of which were dismissed by the Tribunal.
Miss Simpson appealed in relation to the automatic unfair dismissal allegation, claiming her employers were in breach of Regulation 10 of the Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations 1999 (“The Regulations”) by failing to offer her a suitable alternative vacancy at the Cheltenham call centre.
Endsleigh argued that they had telephoned and wrote to Miss Simpson to inform her of the proposed restructuring, and to advise her of alternative vacancies available to her and advise her to apply. All insurance consultants were guaranteed a role in one of the aforementioned call centres if they were willing to relocate. Miss Simpson did not apply for a role in one of the call centres, and was therefore made redundant.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal found that:
- Miss Simpson had expressed no willingness to relocate outside of London and take up a suitable alternative role, having only expressed an interest in an alternative role in London (which was considered unsuitable for her by the HR Department of Endsleigh, and this issue was not disputed.)
- Miss Simpson had failed to apply for a Cheltenham based job at the time, and failed to explain the Tribunal’s assertion that she would have refused any offer made to her.
- As this was a case concerning automatic unfair dismissal the burden of proof fell on Miss Simpson to show that Regulation 10 had been complied with, and she had failed to discharge it.
As a result, Miss Simpson’s appeal was dismissed.
HR Practitioners should note that contrary to Miss Simpson’s contention that Endsleigh should have “at the very least” formally offered her a position at the Cheltenham office, the Employment Appeal Tribunal stated that by writing to Miss Simpson and inviting her to apply, Endsleigh had complied with the Regulations and the relevant European Directives.