Johnson v Nottinghamshire Combined Police Authority

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
Judgment Date19 December 1973
Judgment citation (vLex)[1973] EWCA Civ J1219-1
CourtCourt of Appeal (Civil Division)
Date19 December 1973

[1973] EWCA Civ J1219-1

In The Supreme Court of Judicature

Court of Appeal

Appeals of Miss Johnson and Mrs. Dutton from Judgments of the National Industrial Relations Court on 5th April 1973.


The Master of the Rolls (Lord Denning),

Lord Justice Cairns and

Lord Justice Stephenson.

Noheen Johnson
Nottinghamshire Combined Police Authority
and between
Gladys Mary Dutton
Nottinghamshire Comsined Police Authority

Mr. J. BOWYER (instructed by Mr. J. G. Haley) appeared on behalf of both Appellants.

Mr. RICHARD HAVERY (instructed by Messrs. Sharpe Pritehard & Co., agents for Nottingham Combined Police Authority) appeared on behalf of the Respondent.


Two ladies, Miss Johnson and Mrs. Dutton were employed as clerks at a police station in Nottinghamshire. They had been so employed for over 20 years, each of them. Their hours of work were 9.30 a. m. to 6 pm. or 5.30 p. m. on five days of the week - Monday to Friday, inclusive. They typed reports. They filed papers. They did accounts. They answered the telephone. Before they arrived, a police officer was on duty answering the telephone, and so forth. Likewise after they left.


In 1972 the police authorities determined to reorganise the system. They wished to release police officers from the office work and put them on to the police work for which they had been trained. They proposed that the two ladies should work on separate shifts. One should work from 8 a. m. to 3 p. m. for six days in the week. The other should work from 1 p. m. to 8 p. m. on those six days. Then the next week they would change over. Making allowance for meal times, this would mean a 38—hour week, which was the same number of hours as they had been working before. Their actual work would be Just the same as before, but at different hours.


The ladies were offered the new hours. Each refused to accept them. Each had good reason for her refusal. She could not fit in the new hours with her duties in her home: whereas previously she had been able to do so.


As each refused the new hours, the police authorities gave them due notice to terminate their employment on 11th August, 1972. They left. The police authorities appointed two other ladies who were ready to do the new hours and accepted the employment.


The two ladies whose employment had been terminated claimed redundancy payments. The Industrial Tribunal rejected their claim. On appeal, the Industrial Court did likewise. Theladles now appeal to this Court.


The case raises directly the meaning of the words "work of a particular kind" In section 1(2)(b) of the Redundancy Payments Act, 1965. It says that a dismissal shall be taken to be by reason of redundancy if the dismissal is attributable wholly or mainly to "the fact that the requirements of that business for employees to carry out work of a particular kind, or for employees to carry out work of a particular kind in the place where he was so employed have ceased or diminished or are expected to cease or diminish."


The contest is this: Mr. Havery for the police authorities, says the "work of a particular kind" refers to the actual task that is beings performed. That is here the typing, answering the telephone, and so forth. The requirements of the police authorities remained the same. They need two ladles to perform it for 38 hours a week. The only difference is that the work was done at different times.


Mr. Bowyer, for the ladies, says however that the "work of a particular kind" brings in many attributes which go to make up the kind of work. Mr. Bowyer gave six attributes:-


1. The actual task being performed.


2. The hours of working.


3. The responsibilities involved in the work.


4. The status of the person doing it.


5. The type of person doing it.


6. The remuneration for doing it.


Mr. Bowyer said that a change in any of these attributes might be of such significance that there would be a change in the particular kind of work: so that the requirements for the previous kind ceased or diminished were replaced by the new kind.


Mr. Bowyer gave illustrations from the decided oases. One was Rozlo v. Watt (1966) 2 Industrial Tribunal Reports 201. A shop assistant of long experience was dismissed because his employer could no longer afford to employ him. He was replaced by a less experienced assistant at a lower wage. The actual task was the same; namely - selling goods to customers. The requirements of the business remained the same, namely - to have an assistant to sell goods. But the Tribunal by a majority held that the dismissed employee was entitled to redundancy payment. It is to be noticed that the legal chairman dissented.


Another was Pollock v. Victor Value (Holdings) Ltd., 2 Industrial Tribunal Reports 338. A lady worked 29 hours a week putting goods on the shelves of a supermarket store. The employers required her to work 35 hours a week with wages increased proportionately. She refused for domestic reasons. The employers dismissed her. The Tribunal held that she was entitled to redundancy payment. They said the "work of a particular kind" meant shelving on a part-time oasis of 29 hours a week, which was different from 'more or less full time' of 35 hours a week. But it is to be noticed that the actual task was the same. The requirements of the business were for 'more work to be done, not less. That would hardly seem to be a case of redundancy.


If those cases were correctly decided they would support Mr. Bowyer's contention. But they were decided in the early days. And I do not think they can survive the decision of the National Industrial Court in Scotland in Blakeley v. Chemetron Ltd. (1972) 7 I. T. R. 229, and In England in Chapman v. Goonvean (1973) I. C. R. 50, affirmed by this Court in 1973 2 W. L. R. 678. It is settled by those cases that an employer is entitled toreorganise his business so as to improve its efficiency and, in so- doing, to propose to his staff a change in the terms and conditions of their employment: and to dispense with their services if they do not agree. Such a change does not automatically give the staff a right to redundancy payments. It only does so if the change in the terms and conditions is due to a redundancy situation. The question in every case is: Was the change due to a redundancy situation, or not? If the change is due to a redundancy situation, he is entitled to a redundancy payment. If it is not due to it, he is not.


Typical of redundancy situations are these: There may be a recession in trade so that not so many men are needed. There may be a change in the kind of work done, as from wood to fibre glass, so that woodworkers are no longer needed (see Hindle v. Percival Boats (1969) 1 W. L. R. 174). The business may be no longer profitable so that the employer has to cut down somewhere. Or, he may be over staffed. The employer may meet such a situation by dispensing with the services of some of the men: or alternatively he may lower the wages: or put men on part time. If he does it by making a change in the terms and conditions of employment, it is due to a redundancy situation. Those who lose or leave their work in consequence are entitled to redundancy payments.


It is often difficult to know whether the employer's proposals are due to a redundancy situation or not. But at this point the...

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18 cases
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    ...reasonable to dismiss those who refuse to accept the change. ... .” Again, as seen in Johnson v Nottinghamshire Combined Police Authority [1974] IRLR 20 some business re-organisations do not give rise to a redundancy situation but may amount to some other substantial reason for dismissal. I......
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