Essentially, redundancy is dismissal. Unlike other dismissals, no fault is assumed on the side of the employer or the employee. In this example, an outsource company lost a contract & the service they provided was no longer required. Employees typically have rights, while the employer is expected to follow a fair redundancy process.
Redundancy Rights – Employee
Most ethical companies offer a comprehensive package which includes fair & clear guidelines for managing dismissals, dealing with discrimination & other issues. Sadly, some don’t.
The law provides some mandatory absolute minimum requirements that employers must meet. Sadly these minimum standards are sometimes used as a basis for employment contracts. They go some small way to protect employees from exploitation, but this protection is scant at a time when workers are most vulnerable. Still, it means that an employee who is losing their job almost always has some rights
Subject to meeting basic criteria, an employed person normally qualifies for redundancy pay, a fair notice period, a consultation with your employer, the option to move into a different job & some paid time off to find a new job.
When selecting staff for redundancy, the employer must follow a fair selection process. This might be based on things like skills, capability & experience. A staff member cannot be selected for redundancy for unfair reasons. Pregnancy, disability, age, gender & sexual orientation are examples of unfair staff selection which could lead to a case of unfair dismissal being made against the company.
Redundancy Staff Selection – Employer
If a company is closing down & all staff are being made redundant then no process is required. Everyone will lose their job, so there is no reason to select staff. Often, roles are reduced in number or there is an opportunity to redeploy staff to other departments.
If staff numbers are being cut, then a fair & open process must be followed to ensure that employees are treated fairly & not selected based on personal feelings or bias.
The company might start by asking for volunteers. Some employees might have been considering a change of job or be experiencing life changes. Other common considerations are the length of service, performance (work record, appraisals), & disciplinary record. These can vary between companies & circumstances, but should always be open, clear & fair to employees. In some cases, employees might be asked to re-apply for their jobs to enable the employer to select which staff to keep.
Unfair Staff Selection:
Some of these have already been mentioned. Other examples of unfair staff selection are marital status, race, religion, union membership, working pattern (part time employees must be treated fairly), pregnancy, paternal/parental leave, jury service, health & safety grounds, whistleblowing & this list is not exhaustive. Others are industrial action (under 12 weeks) or even being a trustee on the pension fund. If you are unsure, it is worth checking the current legal criteria.
Check if you think your employer has discriminated, make sure you have been selected fairly, ensure there is a consultation group if more than 20 people are affected. If you have more than 2 years service by the date your jobs ends, then check the redundancy is genuine, that the process is fair & if your employer can offer you an alternative job. (I will come back to this as it is the most common sticking point & may be abused to avoid paying an employee even their basic redundancy pay.)
Importantly, redundancy staff selection, like the process itself, must not be unfair nor discriminate.
You can’t be selected because of age, gender, or if you’re disabled or pregnant. If you are, this could be classed as an unfair dismissal. This is true throughout the process & even if the company does it in a way that is not blatantly obvious.
Any employee who has worked for an employer for more than 2 years should be dealt with according to some minimum standards.
You should be invited to at least 1 individual meeting to discuss redundancy. This seems to be the only part of the process that is SET.
In my example, an invite was emailed to me but no consideration was given for the fact that I work part time. Because of this, I cannot remember having any individual meeting & as memory serves me, I was only sent an email. This was very upsetting as I was on shift at the time & never saw it coming. I felt very disrespected. After 6 years service, I learned that my livelihood was at risk via my inbox.
Employee selection must be fair (if unfair, you can appeal)
Every employee must have the opportunity to attend a 1:1 discussion about the redundancy.
There must be a group consultation if more than 20 people are affected
Notice period must be observed. Currently (Aug ’17) this is a minimum of 1 week for 1 month – 2 years service or
1 week for each full year of service
The company can pay the employee in lieu of notice
Contracts vary, & the company may do far more than the legal minimum. Check your contract.
Your employer should tell you about your notice period when they tell you they’re making you redundant. This notice period only starts when the redundancy is confirmed, not before.
You’ll get all your notice pay in one go if you get pay in lieu of notice.
Even though you don’t work for your notice period, your statutory notice period is added to how long you’ve worked for your employer
Careful: Redundancy pay is paid normally, but might be affected if you leave your current job during your notice period as this would be regarded as a resignation. If you want to leave early, be sure to negotiate RP with your employer to avoid losing it. Consider whether they will help – Eg: agreeing leave. As a last resort, ask your new employer for a later start date.
In my example, the company failed to pay me any of my pay in lieu of notice until I chased them up on it. It felt awful having to ask for notice money for a job I needed to keep.
You can’t be selected because of age, gender, or if you’re disabled or pregnant. If you are, this could be classed as an unfair dismissal.