Rentplus UK Limited vs Coulson (2022) EAT 81

In Tribunals, both the employer and employee can obtain a 25% uplift or 25% reduction to compensation if the other side has failed to follow the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary Grievance Procedures (this is under section 207(a) of TULRA 1992).

The uplifts are strictly applicable only to disciplinary matters relating to failures in relation to capability and conduct and in terms of the failure of either side to follow the Code in respect of grievances.


In this case, the Claimant claimed that she was frozen out by a new chief executive in 2017 who did not like her and was critical of her performance, and rather than dealing with the matter via disciplinary procedures relating to capability and conduct, the employer subsequently commenced a reorganisation and ended up dismissing her by reason of redundancy.

The Claimant won her claim in the Employment Tribunal – the Tribunal finding that the redundancy was in effect a sham and that the decision to dismiss had been taken long before the reorganisation.  It also upheld the claims for sex discrimination arising out of the facts.  The employer appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT).

Part of the employer’s appeal was on the grounds that the ACAS Code does not apply to redundancies.  The employer also argued that because the Tribunal found a discriminatory dismissal, that the Code was not applicable as it was a normal unfair dismissal.  They also appealed on other matters.

The EAT struck down the employer’s appeal.  They found, effectively, that because the Tribunal had found the redundancy to be a sham, the employer could not escape the uplift because it’s asserted reason was redundancy.  The Judge stated that “I do not consider that an employer can side-step the application of the ACAS Code by dressing up a dismissal that results from concerns that an employee is guilty of misconduct, or is rendering poor performance, by pretending that it is for some other reason such as redundancy”.

The Judge also went on to find that just because the Tribunal had made a finding of sex discrimination, that did not mean the Code could not apply.  It was perfectly acceptable for Tribunals to find that the reason for the dismissal was really conduct or capability but was tainted by discrimination and that would still mean that an uplift was possible, if the Code had been breached.

The maximum 25% uplift was also justified on the basis that there had been in effect a complete failure to follow the Code, as the employer had invented a fake process for redundancy, on the findings of the Tribunal.


There is sometimes a grey line between capability dismissals, where an employee has not performed which leads to a subsequent decision by the employer that the position itself might be removed from the organisation, and an employer using redundancy as a sham/side-step as a quicker way to address poor performance rather than going through capability procedures, which can be far more protracted than a redundancy consultation.  

This case is a reminder that if a Tribunal finds a sham it can punish the employer with a maximum uplift to compensation for failure to follow the proper process.