Safeway Stores plc v Burrell

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Safeway Stores plc v Burrell
Safeway Superstore, Bude - - 18245.jpg
Court Court of Appeal of England and Wales
Citation(s) [1997] ICR 523

Safeway Stores plc v Burrell [1997] ICR 523 is a UK labour law case, concerning redundancy.



Safeway Stores plc (now owned by Morrisons) wanted to de-layer and reorganise its departments under its ‘Safeway 2000’ plan. Mr Burrell was a petrol station manager at the Penzance, Cornwall, supermarket. The petrol station manager post would be replaced by a petrol station controller who got paid less. The work was much the same. The former job description carried some management responsibility but Mr Burrell had not in practice performed them. Mr Burrell did not apply for the new post and got redundancy. He then claimed unfair dismissal. The Tribunal held the employers had not demonstrated Mr Burrell was redundant, because the new job involved the same work as before.

Safeway (UK) former chain of supermarkets and convenience stores in the United Kingdom

Safeway was a chain of supermarkets and convenience shops in the United Kingdom. It started as a subsidiary of the American Safeway Inc., before being sold off in 1987.

Morrisons chain of supermarkets in the United Kingdom

Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc, trading as Morrisons, is the fourth largest chain of supermarkets in the United Kingdom, and is headquartered in Bradford, West Yorkshire, England.

Penzance town in Cornwall, UK

Penzance is a town, civil parish and port in Cornwall, in England, United Kingdom. It is the most westerly major town in Cornwall and is about 64 miles (103 km) west-southwest of Plymouth and 255 miles (410 km) west-southwest of London. Situated in the shelter of Mount's Bay, the town faces south-east onto the English Channel, is bordered to the west by the fishing port of Newlyn, to the north by the civil parish of Madron and to the east by the civil parish of Ludgvan.


Peter Clark J held the Tribunal had used the wrong test for redundancy as understood from ERA 1996 section 139(1)(b). The right one is to ask (1) whether the employer’s need for employees had diminished and (2) whether the dismissal was caused by the diminution. So the case was remitted to be reheard. He noted that one should concentrate on the diminution of employees, not of work, referring to Carry All Motors Ltd v Pennington. Furthermore, a business reorganisation is interesting factual background, but its fact does not answer the two stage question of redundancy.


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