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How to survive redundancy

When it comes to stressful situations, redundancy can be right up there with moving house or divorce.  The thing to remember is that it is not about you or your capability or the way that you do your job.  The point is that the job has disappeared or that your employer has found that it needs to reduce its workforce.

Part of the battle can be knowing what to expect.  Have a look at your employment contract and staff handbook because aside from acting within the general requirements imposed by the law, your employer needs to comply with any additional contractual rights or procedures.

Your employer must run a fair procedure, usually this will involve consulting with affected employees, and holding a meeting to warn that you are at risk of redundancy.  It should then score everyone using objective criteria.  If you are provisionally selected there should then be a one to one meeting to discuss your situation and to consider alternative options.  Your employer should then consider the matters discussed at the meeting and report back to you in a second meeting notifying you of the decision.  You are entitled to bring a colleague with you to these meetings and they should be followed up in writing.  If you are selected for redundancy, you have the right to appeal, and there should be an appeal meeting and a final decision.

For a fair redundancy your employer must:

  • Be facing a genuine redundancy situation, so a business closure or a reduced need for a particular kind of work.  Redundancy should never be used a smoke-screen to get rid of employees for other reasons.
  • Follow a fair procedure
  • Use objective criteria to ensure that the selection process is fair.

You are entitled to:

  • Be fairly selected for redundancy using objective and transparent criteria.  It is illegal for employers to use discriminatory criteria on the grounds of age, gender, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief.
  • Notice: either a period of worked notice or payment instead for this          period.  The length of notice depends on length of service, broadly the minimum notice is 1 week for every year worked to a maximum of 12 years.
  • The offer of alternative employment if a suitable job is available and the right to try out the job for a four week period if it differs from your current position.
  • Time off to look for work during the redundancy process and a statutory redundancy payment if you have been an employee for 2 years or more.

If you believe that your employer has not followed a fair selection process, or that the procedure was lacking in some way, it is important to take advice at an early stage.  Employment Tribunals impose a strict deadline as to when claims can be lodged, and if you fail to meet the deadline the Tribunal will not usually grant an extension of time.

For more information and advice on employment law please contact Amanda Finn at Gullands by email: