Unfair dismissal and redundancy
A redundancy situation might arise when a workplace closes or a business wants to restructure or reduce overheads as a result of a downturn in the market. Before starting the redundancy process, the employer has to be completely sure there are no alternatives to solve the issue causing the potential redundancy, including changes to an employee’s terms and conditions , that for example, reduce working hours or pay.
The redundancy procedure is a legal requirement for all businesses, and employers need to follow it carefully. This includes being clear on the reasons for redundancy, outlining how it was determined which roles are at risk, fair selection and the criteria used to ‘score’ staff against, various rounds of employee consultation, written notification and dismissal notices, and the right to appeal.
Added complications are if the redundancy ‘pool’ contains employees on maternity, adoption, paternity, or shared parental leave as they may have some preferential rights over other employees on any suitable alternative vacancies that are appropriate to their skills.
Even if a redundancy situation is genuine, failure to follow the correct procedure can result in a finding of unfair dismissal at an Employment Tribunal. While the right to claim unfair dismissal only arises after two complete years of service, selection for a discriminatory reason can also result in a claim from the onset of the employment relationship. Employers also need to consider what happens if the market bounces back and they need to recruit again after making a redundancy, as they may open themselves up to unfair dismissal claims.
There are some situations where an employer may wish to offer a Settlement Agreement to employees they are making redundant – a voluntary legally binding contract which can be used to end an employment relationship on agreed terms between the employer and the employee. A much quicker procedure, Settlement Agreements also ensure those dismissed will be unable to make an employment tribunal claim about any type of claim which is listed in the agreement such as unfair dismissal. Because of this, employers are normally required to contribute towards the legal costs of their employees as a Settlement Agreement must be ‘signed off’ by an appropriate legal adviser.
You may have been dismissed without good reason or made redundant, but what do you do if you feel the dismissal was unfair or that your job was not really redundant?
Our team of employment lawyers can provide you with advice and guidance on whether you have a claim to bring against your employer, and assist in both approaching your employer and in bringing a claim to the employment tribunal. An approach to your employer may lead to a settlement under a compromise agreement, or alternatively you may have to issue a claim. Whatever the situation, you can rely on our experience and knowledge to give you the right advice and resolve your individual circumstances.