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Q & A on redundancy for employees

Our employment solicitor, Lisa Aitken has been receiving lots of calls from people worried about their employment rights during the coronavirus pandemic, especially relating to redundancy. We have therefore set out below some of the main questions we hope you will find useful.

Can my employer make me redundant instead of putting me on furlough?

Unfortunately, yes. To be furloughed, agreement needs to be made between both you and your employer.  Your employer cannot force you to be furloughed and likewise you cannot force your employer to furlough you.

Employers, however who make redundancies when there was the option to furlough you at no extra cost (ie. Agreement was made to reduce your pay to the 80% and they receive reimbursement) could potentially be classed as unfair dismissal. 

The employer’s resources and available cashflow at the time would be looked into but if there were no cashflow issues, it could seem that making you redundant when you could have been furloughed is deemed as unreasonable.

If the reason you have been made redundant (rather than furloughed) is because of your sex, pregnancy or another protected characteristic, you may have a discrimination claim. 

To talk through your current situation, please call Lisa Aitken who can advise you of your rights and available options.

My employer says they need to make me redundant what can I do?

Many businesses are facing unprecedented challenges and sadly some are unable to survive the crisis.  As in the question above, if you could have been furloughed at no additional cost to the business, you may well have a claim for unfair dismissal.

With regard to redundancies, an employer needs to follow a fair process and respect employment law in this respect.  This includes, suitable alternative roles and consulting with employees – even in these challenging times, failure to do this could result in claims for unfair dismissal.  If you feel you have been selected for redundancy for a discriminatory reason, eg. because you are on maternity leave, this would still be unlawful.

If you are made redundant, you would be entitled to notice pay.  The statutory minimum notice period is one week’s notice for each year of continuous employment up to a maximum of 12 weeks. 

You may also be eligible for statutory redundancy pay if you meet the qualifying criteria.  Click here to use the government calculator to calculate your redundancy pay.  

It is important to check your employment contract as you may be entitled to more than the statutory minimum redundancy pay.

Does my role need to have been at risk of redundancy for me to be put on furlough?

No – The coronavirus job retention scheme was set up to avoid redundancies but further Government guidance states that you can also be put on furlough if:

  • you cannot work because of childcare or caring responsibilities,
  • you are shielding in line with public health guidance, or
  • you need to stay home with someone who is shielding. 

I have been made redundant because of Covid-19 – can I ask my employer to re-employ me and put me on furlough?

Yes, if you were on the payroll and notified to HMRC on its Real Time Information system on or before 28th February and were made redundant since then, your employer could re-employ you and then furlough you.  This applies even if you were not re-hired until after 19th March 2020.

I’ve been made redundant – what about my accrued holiday?

You are entitled to be paid in lieu for any accrued but untaken paid holiday.  This includes any statutory holiday you were unable to take due to sickness, maternity or because of coronavirus.  This should usually be paid as a lump sum in your final pay.

We understand that many people are extremely worried and stressed during these challenging times regarding their jobs.   If you have been made redundant and feel you have been unfairly treated or have any specific questions regarding your own circumstances, please call our employment law specialist, Lisa Aitken who can advise you of your rights and options during these uncertain times.

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