Your rights in redundancy
Date: February 01, 2018 by IDU
Being at risk of redundancy is a stressful experience for individuals and a decent employer should consider how they can support their employees by offering help with skills training and job searching and encouraging awareness of their employee’s rights and options in these circumstances.
Organisations facing financial difficulty may want to effect dismissals as quickly as possible but this will be at odds with the legal protections for individual employees, who require adequate warning and consultation if any eventual dismissal is to be considered fair.
Where it is likely that more than 20 individuals are going to be made redundant at one establishment within a period of 90 days, then the employer faces more onerous legal requirements in the shape of collective consultation. A redundancy dismissal will not be ‘fair’ unless the employer first makes reasonable attempts to identify any suitable alternative roles within their organisation for those losing their jobs. Where the employer is part of a group of companies, this involves considering available roles in other group companies.
Alternative roles should be considered throughout the consultation period and employers can invite ‘at risk’ staff to make any suggestions of possible roles or alternatives they would like to be considered for. If a suitable alternative position is identified, it should be offered formally, ideally in writing, and the employee should be given a sufficient amount of time to consider it.
If the terms and conditions of the new position differ from the employee’s previous role, then a trial period must be offered to allow the employee and employer to assess whether it is suitable. The new employment must then start within four weeks of the employee’s existing role ending.
An employee is entitled to reject an offer of suitable alternative employment but will risk giving up their right to a statutory redundancy payment if the rejection is considered ‘unreasonable’.
Whether a role is a ‘suitable alternative’ will depend on an assessment of factors such as any differences in pay and benefits, status, location and job content.
The test for whether an employee’s refusal of a new role is ‘reasonable’ is a subjective one, taking into account the employee’s personal circumstance. For example, if you have child care or other caring obligations that clash with the offered role, that refusal would be considered ‘reasonable’.
An employee who is on notice of dismissal due to redundancy and who has two years or more continuous service has the right to take ‘reasonable’ paid time off work to look for new employment during working hours. You are entitled to be paid at the ‘appropriate hourly rate’ for the time you take off in the notice period up to a maximum of 40% of a week’s pay, however relevant internal policies may provide for a higher rate of pay.
There is no formal statutory definition of the term ‘reasonable’ in any of this, but provided the employee gives sufficient advance notice, the employer cannot easily refuse such a request as long as the company’s interests will not be damaged by your absence.