Being made redundant sucks. There, we said it. And what's even worse is that redundancy is happening to an awful lot of people right now, largely due to the impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had on businesses.
If you have lost your job, you might be feeling angry, sad, or just totally lost. And, to make matters worse, you might be unsure of your rights when it comes to being made redundant from your role. What am I entitled to? What is statutory redundancy pay? And do you have the right to appeal if you're made redundant? If you're going through it right now, all these questions and more are likely to be bubbling up.
To help you understand the answers to these queries and more, we asked Laura Kearsley, partner and solicitor specialising in employment law at Nelsons, to give her expert advice. And if you're already looking for a new job, why not join us at the free Cosmopolitan Careers Festival, where experts will be giving their top advice?
What is my employer required to do when making me redundant?
This all depends on the number of staff your employer is letting go of. "If an employer anticipates that it will have to make 20 or more people redundant at the same location within a set period, it will have a legal obligation to consult with employee representatives (these could be trade union representatives or colleagues elected for this purpose)," says Laura. But regardless of the numbers, your employer should also follow what's called a "fair process", where they meet with employees that are at risk of redundancy and listen to any suggestions the employees have for avoiding redundancies. "If only a small number of employees are going to be made redundant, employers should explain how they are going to score the employees and what criteria they will use."
What am I entitled to if I'm made redundant?
Employees that are selected for redundancy are entitled to be given their contractual notice or a payment in lieu," adds Laura. "You should be given an opportunity to say why you don’t think there should be redundancies or why you don’t think you should be made redundant. You have the right to be accompanied by a colleague or a trade union representative at any meeting where you could be dismissed."
How much is redundancy pay?
"If you have more than two years’ service, you are entitled to redundancy pay, but all employees will be entitled to their notice or payment in lieu," says Laura. "Statutory redundancy pay is calculated using a formula based on complete years of service, a capped amount for a week’s pay and an age factor," she adds, but if you have accrued annual leave that you haven't yet taken, you are also entitled to be paid in lieu of that. Your employer might also offer more than this, known as Enhanced Redundancy Pay.
What should I do if I don’t think I’m being treated fairly?
Raise any objections during the consultation process or at any meetings you attend, says Laura. And if you think you're being made redundant for the wrong reasons, you should have the chance to have your say during the process. You should also be offered the right of appeal against the decision to dismiss. "If your employer doesn’t take these on board, use your right of appeal against the decision to make you redundant. You can also lodge an early conciliation matter with ACAS, the independent government body that deals with employment disputes, and ultimately, consider whether you wish to bring an employment tribunal claim."
What is gardening leave?
"Gardening leave is a period of time where an employee is still employed by the employer, but they are not required to do any work or go in to work at all," advises Laura. "This would usually be during the employee’s notice period."
If I can't afford a lawyer, are there any organisations that can help?
ACAS has lots of really helpful information on its website and their conciliation service is free of charge too. The gov.uk website also has information about employment law and employee rights. "And, if you are a trade union member, your union should support you and provide access to legal advice," adds Laura.
Find out more about the Cosmopolitan Careers Festival.
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