Sadly this is all too common a question at the moment. We’re seeing employees from all sorts of companies, like blue-chip Goldman Sachs to more humble businesses, whose jobs have been placed at risk of redundancy. It’s worrying, but it doesn’t have to be the end of the world.
What can you do to protect yourself? Do you need legal advice and at what stage?
Firstly, when you are told your job is at risk of redundancy remember that you are entitled to know why. Employers are under a duty to consult and to try and avoid redundancy if at all possible. If the employer is conducting itself properly it should write to you advising you of the situation and then invite you to a meeting to fully discuss. You have a right to be accompanied by a work colleague or a Union representative (if there is one) at that meeting. Use that meeting to find out the business case for the loss of your job: why is your role being axed? Who and how will your work be performed once you have gone? Following a case last year employers are required to consult on the business reason for making redundancies. You should also consider what other roles are available that are appropriate for your level of experience and skill-set.
If you are not happy with the answers you receive, seek legal advice from an experienced employment law solicitor. Do remember that in a redundancy programme it is the job that is at risk - if you think that you have been personally selected then you may have a claim for unfair dismissal or discrimination and it is best to seek legal advice sooner rather than later. You may need to appeal the decision to put your role at risk and the time limits for doing so are usually very short.
In most cases you will be given a compromise agreement, which is a form of legally binding contract, where you will receive a compensation package in return for promising not to sue for unfair dismissal, breach of contract or discrimination (amongst other potential claims). The contents of these agreements vary, but all require the recipient to obtain independent legal advice on the document and the rights they are giving up in return for the payment.
On a redundancy, provided you have two years’ continuous employment experience with your company, you are legally entitled to receive a statutory redundancy payment (£330 p.a per complete year of service) in addition to receiving your notice. Without the two years’ service your only entitlement is notice, unless you have a claim for unfair dismissal (one year’s service needed to be eligible to claim this) or discrimination.
The redundancy process can be very unsettling and hurtful - feelings of rejection and sadness are common and they are often not addressed by the above process, even when there is no unfairness or discrimination present. Many companies offer outplacement counselling as part of the package but that might not properly address your feelings. You might find it helpful to visit some of the specialist career strategists that exist to address these issues and turn what might look like a very black day into a new dawn.
I can help you with all the above matters and I have links with career strategists who help you seize the opportunity presented to you on redundancy. Do call me on 0207 464 8433 or email me at email@example.com if I can help further.
This article will appear in the “Docklands” and “Peninsula” newspapers in the week commencing 10th November.