Employment Law in Practice – Redundancy Advice

If you are facing a redundancy scenario then it is vital that you understand your employment law rights so that you can protect your position if you need to look for another job. It may be worthwhile getting specialized redundancy advice from an employment solicitor but before you take that step you can find out more in this guide. There are three areas that your employment solicitor will ask you about: whether the redundancy is a true redundancy, the selection criteria and the consultation process.Is it a true redundancy?The first question you will be asked by an employment solicitor is whether your redundancy is a genuine redundancy scenario. If your employer has decided it intends or has stopped doing business altogether or in a particular place, or if its need for employees in a particular area has reduced or stopped or is expected to do so, then this is a true redundancy scenario. If you have been offered redundancy but in fact you know that your job is not disappearing and it is simply that ‘your face does not fit’ or it is instead of a performance procedure then you may well have a claim and should seek advice from an employment solicitor.Selection CriteriaIf it is a true redundancy scenario, then the employer must select employees for redundancy using criteria that are fair, objective and consistently applied. The choice of selection criteria may be obvious, such as where the employer is closing a particular branch or office, when all of the employees in that place should be potential candidates for redundancy. However, many employers will need to use different criteria, as they will be reducing numbers of employees doing certain types of work. In these cases, employers may consider using criteria such as performance, profitability, relevant skills and experience, in order to retain the skill sets necessary to manage the business effectively and profitably. Choice of selection criteria may lead to grounds for a claim against an employer. For example, if the criteria is performance, profitability and experience, it may lead to claims of age discrimination (for including experience) or it may give rise to a sex discrimination claim if, for example, a female employee was chosen without taking account of the fact that a period of maternity leave has lowered her profitability. Equally, the way the criteria is applied should open, objective and fair, particularly if performance is a criteria. If you think the selection criteria was unfair or the way it is being applied is unfair, then it may be worth getting more specialized redundancy advice.ConsultationAll employers need to have a consultation period, during which a genuine effort is made to consult with the affected employees about the proposed redundancy scenario. For employers making over 20 employees redundant there are statutory rules about the length and type of consultation. Some employers seem to think that consultation is a waste of time. It shouldn’t be: this period can be used to properly consider alternatives to compulsory redundancy. The fewer the number of compulsory redundancies the less of an effect it will have on the remaining staff. Employers may could consider alternative roles for some employees – a different place of work or re-training. Where an employee is offered an alternative role, he or she is entitled to a 4 week trial period in the new job (which can be extended to 3 months by mutual agreement). Employees may be asked if they would job share, work reduced hours or take a pay cut, although this must be by agreement with the employee.CompensationThe key piece of redundancy advice most employees want is how much compensation they will get if they are made redundant. The statutory minimum redundancy pay is not much. For example, you would be entitled to 1 weeks pay (fixed at a statutory cap) for each year you worked between your 22nd and 41st birthday. As part of your redundancy package you will also be entitled to any contractual or implied notice – this will usually be upward of one month.
However, you should review the redundancy package you have been offered as potentially being a starting point for negotiations, if you have the basis for a claim or you have other factors which may incline your employer to raise the amount. An employment solicitor can tell you if you have grounds for a legal action, such as in the following examples:• It is not a genuine redundancy situation, or your employer has not followed the correct procedure and/or been fair and reasonable;
• Breach of contract
• Employment discrimination – if you were discriminated against on the basis of race, sex, religion, sexual orientation or pregnancy
• Oral promises: a promise made to induce you to do (or not to do) something. For example, you may have looked at moving earlier, got a job offer but turned it down after your employer asked you to stay and promised you that your job was guaranteed and, indeed, you would be promoted on your next review. This type of case is difficult to prove but it is less important to consider taking it to court and more important to view it as leverage to get the deal you want.Obviously a cautious approach needs to be taken when deciding whether to raise the possibility of suing your old employer – you may just annoy the people who would otherwise be on your side. However a good employment solicitor may well decide to give the advice from behind the lines without your employer being aware of them until such time as it becomes clear that negotiations are exhausted.If you are being made redundant, you may be able to get redundancy advice for free from an employment solicitor, where your employer has offered a compromise agreement. If that means an increase in the compensation you will get, it is worth going early to ensure that you still have money to meet your bills whilst you concentrate on finding your new job.

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