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What to do if you are under threat of redundancy?

You’ve been told your job could be under threat of redundancy so what should you do? As a starting point, you should know that you must be consulted, you are entitled to a notice period and under certain conditions a redundancy payment should be made:

1. You should be consulted, even (especially!) if you are on maternity leave. Your employer should consult you individually in every case and collectively (with a recognised trade union or elected staff representatives) if 20 or more posts are going to be made redundant. The reasons for the redundancy should be set out in writing, and you should be invited to at least one meeting to explore ways to avoid the redundancy, comment on the basis for selection, and consider any alternative position that may exist. Your notice period can only begin once this consultation is finished, which must last at least 30 days when 20 or more posts are made redundant (45 days if 100 employees or more).

2. The length of your notice period is usually set out in your employment contract. The statutory minimum notice pay is 1 week’s salary if you have more than 1 month but less than 2 years of service, 1 week per complete year of service afterwards (up to 12 weeks).

3. If you have more than 2 years of service, you are also entitled to a redundancy payment of 0.5, 1 or 1.5 week’s salary per year of service, depending on your age. It is worth checking your employer’s Staff Handbook and what used to be done in the past: your employer may have a more generous contractual policy.

Contesting redundancy

But this is not the end of it. There are some steps you could take to avoid, delay, contest or negotiate your redundancy.

  • Use the consultation period to ask as many questions as possible. This may delay the end of the consultation period and buy you a few more weeks in employment.
  • Question whether there is a genuine redundancy situation. Suggest ways to avoid the redundancy: job share, pay cut, part-time working, etc. The most detailed and realistic your proposals, the more difficult it will be for your employer to brush it away.
  • Check which posts should be in the selection pool. If one of your colleagues is doing a similar job to you, s/he should also be at risk of redundancy.
  • Check the criteria used to determine who will be made redundant. Explain your objections and suggest alternatives.
  • Ask for details of the scoring of each of those in the selection pool and the supporting evidence, argue if there is any obvious discrepancy with your colleagues.
  • Your employer must at least look for alternative employment and should offer you any suitable alternative vacancy (suitability will include how the salary level for the new job compares with your current salary). If you are on maternity leave, your employer must offer you any suitable available vacancy, however inconvenient for the company (see here for more details). You need to be proactive: screen the vacancy list and the firm’s website, and apply if appropriate.
  • When a suitable alternative vacancy is offered to you, be cautious before refusing it. If you refuse it unreasonably, you may lose your rights to your redundancy payment. If you do not have any “good” reason to refuse, use the statutory trial period (4 weeks). It will show that you have given it real consideration.
  • Appeal your redundancy setting out your grounds of appeal (e.g. breach of procedure, no genuine redundancy situation, unfair selection, etc).
  • If you are seeking to negotiate a settlement, research the job market situation and explain how long it will probably take you before you will find a similar job.
  • Last but not least, if you believe your redundancy is unfair, beware of time limits: you should lodge a claim within 3 months of your date of termination of employment (see here for more information) and seek legal advice promptly.

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