Redundancy usually happens when an employer needs to reduce its workforce. If you’re dismissed and directly replaced by a new employee this can’t be classified as redundancy.
Redundancy can be a stressful time, but you’re not on your own – there is support and legal protection. You should be treated fairly by your employer, and there is a defined process to which an employer must adhere. You may also be entitled to redundancy pay.
Valid reasons for redundancy
Normally your job must have disappeared or someone else's job must go, causing them to be moved to yours. This is known as 'bumping', but it may be difficult for your employer to justify it. Valid reasons for redundancy include:
- New technology or a new system has made your job unnecessary
- The job you were hired for no longer exists
- The need to cut costs means staff numbers must be reduced
- The business is closing down or moving
Selection for redundancy
You can’t be made redundant arbitrarily – your employer’s criteria should be clearly defined and as objective as possible. They may include formal qualifications and skills but shouldn’t be based on these alone. Suitable criteria include:
- Attendance record
- Disciplinary record
- Skills or experience
- Standard of work performance
- Aptitude for work
Your employer should also have an appeals procedure.
Your right to information about redundancies
Your employer must give you certain information in writing, including:
- Why redundancies are occurring
- How many employees will be affected, in which areas
- How employees will be selected for redundancy
- Any agreed procedure for redundancies, including when they will happen
- How redundancy payments will be calculated (for more than the legal minimum)
Don’t worry — you can’t be made redundant instantly. If your employer has selected you for redundancy you must be given a notice period. Your employment contract might have an agreed notice period, but if not, the notice periods you’re legally entitled to are:
- At least one week’s notice if you’ve been employed between one month and two years
- One week’s notice for each year if you’ve been employed between two and 12 years
- 12 weeks of notice if you’ve been employed for 12 years or more
If you’ve been an employee without a break for at least two years, you’re entitled to redundancy pay. This is also true if you have a fixed term contract of two years or more that isn’t renewed because of redundancy.
You can use Directgov’s online calculator to work out how much redundancy pay you are entitled to. You should get this automatically on your last day.
Your employer should pay you through your notice period too, or provide payment in lieu of notice, unless you find a new job elsewhere.
If your employer is making 20 or more employees redundant (collective redundancy) it has to consult with employee representatives, or make arrangements for the employees to elect representatives. If it doesn’t, you might be able to make a claim to an employment tribunal for up to 90 days pay.
If your employer is making fewer than 20 employees redundant, it must:
- Select the employees fairly
- Warn and consult about the redundancy
- Take reasonable steps to redeploy affected employees
- Give any redundancy pay you are due, and be given the correct amount of notice
- Consider any alternatives to redundancy
If an employer uses redundancy to cover up the real reason for dismissing you, or it doesn’t carry out the redundancy procedure properly, this may amount to unfair dismissal. If you think you’ve been unfairly dismissed, you may be able to appeal/complain to an employment tribunal (or industrial tribunal in Northern Ireland).
Your employer may have arranged for you to have retraining or counselling to help you find your next role. Your local Jobcentre Plus can also offer you support and advice. When you’re looking for work, remember – Caterer.com has Britain’s largest database of hospitality job vacancies!
What to do
If you’re not happy, you should first try talking informally with your employer. If you can’t reach an agreement or still feel you’ve been unfairly treated, you should formally appeal through dismissal or disciplinary procedures.
The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) offers free advice on employment rights, and your local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) can also provide free and impartial advice.
*The information on these pages is provided for your information and reference only. Before making any important decisions regarding your employment or any legal matter, you should consult a qualified professional adviser who can provide specific advice based on your individual position.
- Citizens Advice Bureau
- Job Centre Plus online database
- Directgov: Redundancy
- Directgov: Grievance procedures
- Directgov: Employment Tribunals
- Directgov: Trade Unions
- Back to Money and legal
- Search for hospitality jobs