When can I make a claim?Redundancies happen. That’s the unfortunate fact of working life. For any number of reasons, the company you work for finds itself in financial or operational trouble and you find yourself thrust out of a job. This has become even more apparent during the past year, with the coronavirus pandemic destroying jobs across the country.
You’re entitled to make a redundancy claim if:
- You’ve worked for your employer for two or more years
- You believe the redundancy is unfair or you faced discrimination
- You believe the redundancy selection process was mishandled or improperly followed, or not genuine
Employers have a legal right to make sure the selection process is fair. That means, they could operate a ‘last in, first out’ method, ask for volunteers, or request you reapply for your job.
But they can’t choose to make you redundant based on your age, race, gender, or any other protected characteristic (this would be classed as workplace discrimination and unfair dismissal).
In rare cases, the selection process can be skipped. This can happen when you’re the only employee or if everyone is being made redundant as the company shuts down.
The redundancy should also be genuine – e.g., the business is insolvent. If the company continues to employ people in similar roles to your own, for instance, it could mean your employer is using redundancy as an excuse to fire you. And that is against the law.
What steps should I take?As with any employment dispute, legal action should be a last resort. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t speak to employment solicitors or an employee representative. They’ll be well-placed to let you know if your redundancy is unfair, and how best to challenge the decision. You can also use your solicitor or union rep as a representative when discussing the matter with your employer.
Speak directly to your employer in the first instance. Write to your employer outlining why you believe the redundancy decision is unfair. Alternatively, make a formal appeal to HR. Check your company handbook for the correct procedure.
Remember, keep a copy of all correspondence in your records, as you may need it later.
Talking to ACAS is another option. The organisation seeks to ‘make working life better for everyone in Britain’ by offering free and impartial advice and help resolve workplace disputes. As part of this, you and your employer will be offered a type of mediation known as ‘early conciliation’.
While it’s optional, it’s a good idea to attend these sessions. If your redundancy claim goes to an employment tribunal, you should be able to prove you’ve tried to reach an agreement beforehand. When early conciliation ends, you’ll either obtain a legally binding agreement between you and your employer, or an ACAS certificate letting you take the claim to an employment tribunal.
At this stage, if you haven’t already done so, find a solicitor. You or your solicitor will then inform ACAS of your intention, getting the go-ahead to take legal action.
What will employment tribunal look at?You have three months from the date of your dismissal to lodge a redundancy claim at tribunal. During this time, the employment tribunal will look at several factors to judge whether or not your redundancy is fair.
- The business need for redundancies
- Whether the redundancy program was properly followed
- The consultation period and procedure
- Whether the company sought and offered reasonable alternative roles
- If the decision was fair
Can I claim redundancy pay?You’re eligible for redundancy pay so long as you’re an employee (part-time or full-time) with the right to work in the UK, who’s been in service for two or more continuous years. Contractors whose contracts are ended as the position no longer exists can also make a claim for redundancy pay.
There are two types of redundancy pay. Statutory redundancy pay is what you’re entitled to by law; contractual redundancy pay is the additional pay as guaranteed in your contract.
How much statutory redundancy pay you get depends on your age.
- If you’re under 22, you’re entitled to half a week’s pay for every full year you’ve worked at the company
- If you’re between 22 and 40, you’ll get one week’s pay for every full year
- If you’re 41 and older, you’ll receive one and a half week’s pay for each full year
If you’ve been furloughed due to COVID, any calculation must be based on your full salary, not on your current 80% salary.
You can’t get redundancy pay if your employer keeps you on in another role, or you refuse a suitable alternative job in the business. Certain employees, such as members of the armed forces and apprentices, are also exempt from redundancy pay – your solicitor can advise.
You also forfeit your right to pay if you turn down reasonable alternative employment with the company, leave before your notice period ends, or you’re fired for gross misconduct.
If your employer refuses to pay your statutory redundancy pay, write and ask them for it. If they still won’t pay, your solicitor will help. Sometimes, though, your employer may be unable to pay your redundancy – for example, if the company’s gone bust. When this happens, the government may be able to cover this.
Find employment solicitorsWhen you face discrimination or workplace dispute over your redundancy, it’s a good idea to discuss your options with a solicitor.
Tribunals can be an especially stressful time. You have a limited time to lodge a claim, and you can’t afford to make a mistake. Your solicitor will guide you through what can be a confusing legal process, helping you prepare and present a strong case.
Our quick quote form helps you find employment solicitors locally and across England and Wales. With just a few details, you can compare and connect with solicitors who can help you make a redundancy claim against your employer.