REDUNDANCIES AND HOW TO SURVIVE THEM
Sadly, a huge number of redundancies are expected over the next 12 months as the Government cuts begin to bite in the public sector, which will have a knock-on effect on the private sector. Recently extensive job losses have been predicted within the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Justice in courts and Tribunals across the UK and across the banks.
To equip you to survive any such cuts, here are the 10 best tips on how to survive the impact of redundancy either by helping you to convince your employer to keep you on or, if your job is to be made redundant, to help get you the best severance terms to give you a financial ‘buffer’ for the future and to help support you whilst you look for new work.
1. If redundancies are on the cards your employer must warn and consult you beforehand. Typically, this means they need to speak to you individually, explain what is happening and outline the reasons for redundancy, such as a fall in sales, and discuss it with you ‘meaningfully’. You should use this chance to explain to them how savings can be made elsewhere without needing job cuts, point out to them how important you are and how your job is crucial to them. They are under a duty to consider this and respond to you. This is an opportunity to get them to change their mind.
2. If you are a Union member always get your Union’s help and representation at meetings. A skilled Union representative can give you an ‘edge’ and will support you in arguing for your job to be saved.
3. Your employer cannot lawfully just choose who should stay and who should go without careful thought and the application of a fair process. Basic standards apply – where there are a number of employees doing the same type of work they should be ‘pooled’ together, objective non-discriminatory selection criteria (such as disciplinary record, performance, time keeping and so on) should be applied to all employees in the ‘pool’ and the criteria should be fairly assessed by managers. The low scorers will be the ones scheduled to go. Ask to see the criteria your employer intends to use and raise any criticisms you may have. Once you have been assessed, ask for your own scores, check they are fair and, if not, challenge them.
4. Always check whether your employer has a contractual redundancy policy and, if so, insist they follow it. Such a policy may require your employer to follow a more detailed redundancy process or entitle you to enhanced redundancy payments.
5. If the worst happens and you are selected but you wish to stay, demand to see all current internal vacancies and also ask about any future vacancies that are expected, such as maternity cover for an expectant colleague. Your employer should check to see if there are any vacancies and make it possible for you to apply for them. If there are any vacancies ask for copies of the job descriptions and written details about pay and work location. Only this way will you be able to decide whether you want to apply for the vacancy.
6. What else can you do if selected? Appeal against it as you have a right to attend an appeal hearing. Normally the appeal will be heard by a different and more senior manager who should reconsider matters for you. This is a chance to persuade them to change the original decision.
7. Remember that if your employer offers an alternative job to you, you can lose your right to statutory redundancy pay if an Employment Tribunal thinks that the alternative job is suitable and that you unreasonably refused it. Therefore, you need to have as much information as possible about what the new job involves and assess its suitability very carefully.
8. If redundancy is inevitable, attempt to negotiate a ‘severance’ package. Your employer may only intend to pay the minimum statutory redundancy pay and notice. Argue for them to improve this or, if they require you to work out your notice, try to get them to pay you your notice pay in lieu or to place you on gardening leave giving you more time to look for alternative work.
9. Always check your Contract of Employment as it may contain limits on what you can do post-termination, such as preventing you from competing with your employer for 12 months. If so, ask your employer to drop these restrictions and if they agree, ask them to confirm it in writing.
10. If your employer is insolvent or becomes insolvent during the redundancy process, remember that some payments are guaranteed by the Government, such as statutory redundancy pay, notice pay, holiday pay and so forth (subject to a cap) and you can claim them from the Government.
Redundancy is never an easy process to undergo and is usually very upsetting for the employee. Please try to remember that it is the job that is redundant not the person and when it comes to finding new employment most prospective employers understand that redundancy, as a reason for dismissal, is not unusual and do not see it as a negative.
This article is for general information only and is not a substitute for taking legal advice.
For further information, please contact Vanessa Charters, Head of Communications on 07595564764