Redundancy and your rights

Redundancy commonly happens when employers decide that they need to reduce their workforce or restructure their business. In a recession this is more common, however the official reasons for making someone redundant are somewhat different.

According to the HMRC:

“For a redundancy to be genuine, you must demonstrate that the employee’s job will no longer exist”

People who lose their job through redundancy have certain legal rights that depend on specific circumstances. In this article, we will cover the most important questions concerning redundancy and advise you on what to do if you think that your rights are being abused.

What kind of rights do I have if I am being made redundant?

Your rights could include:

  • Statutory redundancy pay
  • Reasonable notice period
  • A formal redundancy consultation with your employer
  • The opportunity to take a different job within the organisation
  • Paid time off work in order to look for a new job.

There are also legal obligations regarding the ways in which your employer selects the people to be made redundant and if you suspect that you are being unfairly made redundant, get in touch with a discrimination solicitor

How should my employer select the people to be made redundant?

Your employers must be transparent and fair in the way people are selected for redundancy.

They may ask for voluntary redundancies; they may choose those people who have been in the job for the shortest time; they may base it on skill set and previous appraisals; or they might use disciplinary records.

If your job ceases to exist, then the selection process does not apply – which is why this is a route that is most commonly taken by businesses.

What criteria for redundancy are not legal?

Employers are not allowed to select people for redundancy based on discrimination. For instance amongst other criteria they cannot select people because of their gender, race, sexual orientation, age, religion, disability, pregnancy, maternity or paternity leave, whistleblowing, union membership, and insistence on observing statutory rights.

How much redundancy pay should I get?

In order to qualify for statutory redundancy pay you need to have worked for your current employer for at least 2 years.

You should receive one week’s pay for every year you have worked for the company between the ages of 22 and 40; half a week’s pay for every year that you were younger than 22; and one and a half weeks pay for every year that you were 41 and over. Up to £30,000 redundancy pay is free of tax.

Note that some classifications of employees don’t qualify for redundancy pay, for instance police officers and members of the armed forces. See the Gov UK website for more information on exceptions to redundancy pay.

If in doubt, speak to one of our redundancy specialist solicitors.

Can I claim redundancy pay if I have been laid off for just a short period of time?

Yes, as long as it is for at least four consecutive weeks of any 6 weeks in a 13 week period.

How much notice should I be given?

This depends on how long you have worked for your employer. If it is 2 years or less, then you must be given a minimum of 1 week’s notice. If you have worked for over 2 years then you should be given 1 week’s notice for each year that you have worked up to a maximum of 12 weeks’ notice.

Your employer can choose to make you redundant without any notice as long as he pays you the money that you would be entitled to had you worked your notice entitlement. 

What is consultation?

You have a right to a consultation with your employer. This is a meeting in which they must tell you why you are being made redundant, and suggest any alternative jobs that they might have for you. If your employer has an alternative position, then they should offer it to you.

You are also entitled to take a representative with you to the meeting.

I have been offered an alternative job. Should I take it?

This depends on the level of the job, the skills it requires and the pay.

If it is a reasonable offer and the job is not too dissimilar from yours then you might be advised to accept the offer. If you turn down a reasonable offer then you could lose your redundancy pay, but you can opt for a trial of up to four weeks. If you find that the job is unsuitable then you can give notice within the four-week period and still qualify for redundancy pay.

What should I do if I think that the redundancy is unfair?

If your employers have failed to follow all the rules regarding making you redundant, you might have a case of unfair dismissal against them. If so then you would sue them in court and if you won you would be entitled to compensation.

If you think that this is the case, then you should seek legal advice without delay. You could talk to your union representative about it and/or speak to a solicitor. You can find your local QualitySolicitors branch here.

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Posted in: Employment law

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