Redundancy is an unfortunate reality for many employees, especially in the current economic climate. Redundancy is a legal route to terminate employment, in a situation where a business decides that it no longer needs, or can no longer afford to employ certain staff.
However employment law surrounding redundancy is complex and the process for a redundancy must be conducted fairly and within the law in order to be effective.
The essence of redundancy is that you are dismissed because the work that you do is no longer needed, or can no longer be afforded by the business.
When can you be made redundant?
Redundancy happens in a range of situations. Your employer’s business may be failing or may have even gone bust, meaning that they can no longer afford to employ you. Alternatively your employer’s business may have changed and they may feel that your role is no longer needed. Other reasons for redundancy include the introduction of new technology, rendering a certain role or even whole departments unnecessary.
Redundancy also happens when employer’s move a business into a new area, if the staff are unwilling to make the move. When companies are taken over the new owners may decide that certain jobs are replicated and may decide to make some employees redundant.
Is redundancy ever illegal?
Just because an employer says you are being made redundant does not make this the case, and in some circumstances you may be illegally dismissed. In such circumstances you may have a case at an employment tribunal.
Knowing when you are genuinely being made redundant and when your employer is using redundancy as an excuse to unfairly dismiss you can be difficult. Things to look out for include when you are made redundant:
- Being made redundant when the company is hiring
- Being the only one or one of a few in a large company to be made redundant
- Being made redundant after a feud or argument with your boss
- Being made redundant after being discriminated against
In these circumstances you should consult an employment lawyer for legal advice on whether your redundancy was legal and if it was not on what you can do next.
Following correct procedure
Even if your employer has a genuine reason for making you redundant, it can still be illegal if the correct procedure is not followed.
To begin with your employer must use a technique for redundancy which is fair and transparent. This should be agreed with trade unions. If an unfair selection process is used, then you may have a case for unfair dismissal.
Your employer must also consult you if making you redundant. If fewer than 20 employees are made redundant then you should be consulted individually. If you work in a firm where more than 20 employees are made redundant then your employer should meet you individually and must consult with you collectively.
Your employer must offer you suitable alternative employment if such a role exists, this offer must be made before your employment ends.
Your employer must also give you appropriate notice which varies depending on how long you have worked for them.
Guest Post by:
Nick Branch, who received his LLB from the University of the West of England in 2004 and is a regular contributor for Contact Law on law-related topics.
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