What To Do If You Think You're Unfairly Being Made Redundant

Parents and people who've been shielding are more likely to face redundancy, research suggests.

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One in three UK employers expect to make workers redundant this autumn, research suggests, as the financial impacts of the coronavirus pandemic continue across the country.

The survey, from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and Adecco, found 33% of employers expected to let staff go overall – this increased to 38% in the private sector, compared to 16% in the public sector.

It follows a survey from Citizen’s Advice, which found parents, carers, disabled people and those who previously shielded are at least twice as likely to face redundancy than the rest of the working population.

The latter survey of 6,000 people asked workers if they’d been made redundant in the past three months, or if they were in the process of being made redundant.

One in four disabled people (27%) said they were facing redundancy. This rose to 37% of those who said their disability has a large impact on their day-to-day life. Half of those who were in the shielded group (48%) said they were at risk of redundancy, while two in five parents or carers (39%) faced losing their job.

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So what should you do if you think you may have been selected for redundancy based on one of these discriminatory factors?

Know your rights

Before entering into any talks about redundancy, make sure you know what you’re entitled to walk away with, says Slater and Gordon employment lawyer Sarah Hexter.

“If you have over two years of service and your redundancy is confirmed, then you should be paid a statutory redundancy payment,” she says. “You should be paid in lieu of your notice period and any accrued and untaken annual leave. It should also include any other contractual payments you may be entitled to.”

  • Half a week’s pay for each full year you were under 22

  • One week’s pay for each full year you were 22 or older, but under 41

  • One and half week’s pay for each full year you were 41 or older

“If you were paid less than usual because you were ‘on furlough’ because of coronavirus, your redundancy pay is based on what you would have earned normally,” the government’s website confirms.

You can check the redundancy pay you’re entitled to using this online calculator.

Know what a fair process looks like

If you’ve never faced redundancy before, get acquainted with what a fair redundancy process should look like and ask yourself if that was followed in your workplace.

“A fair redundancy process should include: informing the employee, consultation, considering alternative roles and a fair selection process,” explains Hexter. “If someone was selected for having children or shielding this would be considered an unfair selection.”

Consider claiming unfair dismissal

If something doesn’t feel right, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible. Look through this checklist to see whether your dismissal may be unfair.

“Employees with over two complete continuous years of service could claim unfair dismissal,” Hexter says. “However, if the selection was discriminatory on the grounds of, for example, sex or disability, there is no requirement for two years’ service.”

If you suspect you may have been discriminated against in the redundancy process, Hexter recommends keeping a record of events, discussions and communications from your employer.

“Confirm any decisions in writing where possible,” she says. “Seek legal advice as soon as possible, as the timescales for taking action are very short and you will need to act on any potential employment tribunal claim within three months.”

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you’re considering challenging your dismissal – an adviser can help you work out if you have a genuine claim, and your chances of winning it.

You may be advised to appeal through your employer’s appeal process. If your employer doesn’t have a process, you might be able to get help from Acas. They can help you look for ways to resolve disputes without going to a tribunal.

Another option may be making a claim to an employment tribunal. Citizens Advice can help with this if you’re thinking about making a claim.

Prepare for the worst

It may sounds defeatist, but you should financially plan for a worst case scenario, rather than relying on securing a bigger redundancy package or getting your job back imminently.

Although all workers are protected by law against discrimination, at the moment workers have no guarantee these laws will be enforced, says Citizens Advice.

There are a number of national organisations responsible for enforcing specific workers’ rights, including the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (EASI) and the HMRC National Living Wage Compliance Team (HMRC NLW), but Citizen’s Advice is concerned support for those facing unfair dismissal can fall through the cracks. And while employees can take their issue to an employment tribunal, there was a backlog of 400,000 cases going into this crisis.

Because of this, Citizens Advice is calling for a single watchdog to enforce employees’ rights. The government committed to establishing this in the 2019 Queen’s Speech. In the meantime, Citizens Advice is urging that emergency funding be given to the existing enforcement bodies.

“If someone is facing an unfair redundancy, the odds of getting redress under the current system are stacked against them,” says Dame Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice. “Workers need a watchdog that will be a one-stop shop to protect their employment rights.”