Salford Citizens Advice

What the end of the furlough scheme might mean for you:

The government furlough scheme has now ended, and now many people may be facing redundancy.

No matter how long you’ve worked for your employer, there are 3 things you should do to see if your employer can make you redundant:

  1. Check if your employer has discriminated

It’s discrimination if you’re made redundant at least partly because you’re:

  • pregnant or on maternity leave
  • from a particular race, ethnicity or country
  • married or in a civil partnership
  • a man or a woman
  • disabled
  • lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), or seen to be
  • have a particular religion or set of beliefs
  • older or younger than the other people you work with

These categories are called ‘protected characteristics’.

You can be made redundant if you’re in one of these categories, but not if that’s the reason you’re made redundant.

You should also watch out for redundancy decisions based on rules or criteria that affect people with a protected characteristic more than others. This is called ‘indirect discrimination’. 

For example, your employer could decide to make people redundant based on how many hours they’ve worked in the last month. Women are more likely to have childcare responsibilities, and might have worked less in the last month. This means your employer’s redundancy criteria might affect women worse than men, and could be indirect discrimination against women.

It could also be discrimination if you’re made redundant and being in one of these groups made you more likely to be chosen. This could happen if the way your employer chooses people is more likely to affect people in one of these groups.

For example, it’s disability discrimination if your employer chooses you because you’ve taken the most sick leave, but your sickness was connected to a disability.

It could be sex discrimination if you’re a woman caring for a child or relative and your employer makes the people with the least flexible hours redundant. Women are more likely than men to have less flexible hours because they’re caring for children or relatives.

  1. Check if you’ve been chosen for a fair reason

Your redundancy is unfair if you’re chosen at least partly because you:

  • asked for one of your rights at work – for example asking for minimum wage, holiday or maternity leave
  • took action about health and safety – for example making a complaint
  • are a whistle-blower – you’ve reported your employer for doing something illegal
  • work part-time or are on a fixed-term contract
  • work in a shop and refused to work on a Sunday
  • are in a trade union or have been on an official strike
  • have been on jury service

These are called ‘automatically unfair reasons’. They’re unfair no matter how long you’ve been working for your employer.

You can be made redundant in these situations, but not if they’re the reason for your redundancy. You might be able to show you’ve been dismissed for an automatically unfair reason if:

  • most other people in the same situation have also been chosen for redundancy
  • other people with similar jobs aren’t considered for redundancy
  • you’re made redundant soon after asking for your rights, whistleblowing, making a health and safety complaint, striking or going on jury service
  1. Make sure your employer holds a group consultation if they’re making at least 20 people redundant.

You’re part of a ‘collective redundancy’ if your employer is making 20 or more people redundant. Your employer has to hold a group consultation if there’s a collective redundancy.

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if your employer is making 20 or more people redundant but doesn’t follow these rules. You might be able to challenge your redundancy.

Who your employer should consult:

  • If there’s a union at work your employer should consult representatives from the union.
  • If there isn’t a union your employer should consult representatives from their employees. Your representatives could be a group that already exists, such as a staff forum. If a group doesn’t already exist, you should be given a chance to vote for who will represent you.

Your employer should give your representatives written details of:

  • why they’re making redundancies
  • how many people they’re making redundant
  • which areas of the business they’ll choose people from
  • how they’ll choose who to make redundant
  • how they’ll work out redundancy payments
  • what process and timeline they’ll follow

Check with your representatives if they don’t give you all of this information.

The group consultation must start at least 30 days before anyone’s job ends.

If 100 or more people are being made redundant, group meetings must start at least 45 days before anyone’s job ends.

If you’ve worked for your employer for at least 2 years.

There are 3 more steps to look at if you’ll have worked for your employer for at least 2 years by the time your job ends:

  1. Check that your redundancy is genuine

A genuine redundancy is one where your employer has a real business reason to make you redundant – usually because:

  • your employer doesn’t need you to do your job any more
  • your workplace is closing
  • your employer is going out of business or has less demand for its services

What counts as genuine redundancy

You can be made redundant if:

  • the business is failing
  • the business, or part of it, has stopped operating (often called becoming insolvent or going bust)
  • your skills are no longer needed
  • your work is being done by other people, after a reorganisation
  • the business, or the work you’re doing, moves to another location
  • the business is taken over by another company
  • your employer was the sole owner of the business and they die
  • You can also be made redundant if new technology means your employer needs fewer people to do your job. But you shouldn’t be made redundant if new technology means the same job is done differently. 

For example, you can be made redundant if you worked in the train station ticket office and ticket machines are introduced – but you shouldn’t be made redundant just because a new schedule board is introduced.

Sometimes an employer might say you’re being made redundant to hide the true reason for dismissing you. 

Signs it might not be a genuine redundancy include:

  • your employer has recently taken on other people doing similar work
  • you have a bad relationship with your employer or other people at work
  • you’re singled out or treated differently from other people at work
  • Your redundancy might also not be genuine if your employer has discriminated – for example if they make you redundant because you’re pregnant or on maternity leave.

Your employer could also have chosen you for an unfair reason. Unfair reasons include making you redundant because you’ve asked for one of your legal rights, made a health and safety complaint or been on an official strike.

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice straight away if you don’t think your redundancy is genuine. You might be able to challenge your redundancy.

You should also talk to a union rep if you’re in a union at work, and check any household insurance you have to see if it includes free legal advice.

  1. Make sure your employer follows a fair process:

Your employer has to follow a fair redundancy process if you’ll have worked for them for at least 2 years by the time your job ends.

You should be invited to at least 1 individual meeting with your employer to discuss redundancy.

Apart from your individual meeting there isn’t a set process. Your employer still needs to have a clear process, but there are no rules about what it should be.

If you’ve worked for your employer for less than 2 years your employer doesn’t need a redundancy process and doesn’t have to meet you individually. It’s worth checking if they have a process anyway, so you know what to expect.

You should still check that your redundancy is fair, as there are other rules your employer must follow.

Check your employer’s process:

You might find your employer’s process in your contract or staff handbook, or it might be a process they’ve used for previous redundancies. If your employer’s process isn’t written anywhere, they have to make sure you know what process they’re going to follow.

The process has to explain:

  • how they’ll choose people for redundancy
  • how long the decision will take
  • what meetings you can go to and when
  • how you can appeal if you’re chosen for redundancy

Usually your employer has to follow their process, but they can do things differently if they have a good reason. For example, if they say they’ll meet you at a certain time, but your manager is off sick, they can rearrange the meeting.

Meeting your employer to discuss redundancy:

Your employer has to meet you individually at least once before they tell you their final redundancy decision. At this meeting you should get to discuss:

  • why they need to make redundancies
  • why they’re considering you for redundancy
  • what other jobs are available
  • any questions you have about what happens next

The meeting is a chance to explain why you shouldn’t be made redundant. Tell them if you don’t think they’re following their process properly or if they’ve chosen you unfairly.

It’s best to discuss unfairness now rather than waiting until your employer has made a final decision. By speaking to them early on you might persuade them not to make you redundant.

Your employer might let you bring someone with you to your redundancy meetings – for example someone from your union or HR. It can be helpful to have someone there to take notes and support you. If this isn’t mentioned in your redundancy process, ask your employer if you can bring someone.

Your redundancy could be unfair if your employer:

  • doesn’t have a process
  • doesn’t meet you individually
  • only meets you to tell you they’re making you redundant
  • has a process that doesn’t contain enough information
  • has a process but doesn’t follow it – unless they have a good reason to do things differently
  1. Know when your employer should offer you another job:

Your employer has to try to find you another job with them if either:

  • you’re on maternity leave or shared parental leave when they make you redundant
  • you’ll have been working for them for at least 2 years by the time your job ends

Finding another job for you is called looking for ‘suitable alternative employment’.

Your employer should discuss alternative jobs with you when they meet you individually to discuss redundancy.

An alternative job can start up to 4 weeks after the end of your current job.

You don’t have to accept an alternative job with your employer if it isn’t suitable for you. Check your options if your employer offers you another job.

An alternative job doesn’t have to be exactly like your current job. Your employer should also consider jobs:

  • in other locations
  • with different pay
  • with different duties
  • at other companies they own

You should get a chance to apply for an alternative job even if it doesn’t match your experience.

Your employer should always talk to you before assuming you won’t want an alternative job. For example, if a job is at a different office, pays less, or involves different work they should still talk to you to see if you’re interested.

You have a right to spend 4 weeks trying an alternative job to decide if you like it.

Applying for an alternative job:

Your employer might offer people alternative jobs without anyone having to apply for them. Check that you’ve been fairly chosen if other people are offered alternative jobs and you’re made redundant.

Instead of giving people alternative jobs automatically, your employer might ask everyone at risk of redundancy to apply for alternative jobs. You should be allowed to apply even if the alternative job isn’t exactly the same as the one you’ve been doing.

If you apply but your employer still makes you redundant you can challenge your redundancy if:

  • your employer discriminated against you – check if it was discrimination
  • you were on maternity leave, shared parental leave or adoption leave
  • your employer didn’t tell you what they would base the decision on – for example if it depends on an interview or your previous work

If you aren’t offered another job:

Ask your employer for an explanation if you think they have alternative jobs but you aren’t offered any by the time your current job ends. It isn’t enough if they offer you an alternative job after your current job ends.

If your employer doesn’t have a good reason for not offering you an alternative job you might have been unfairly dismissed. Contact your nearest Citizens Advice straight away, as you might be able to challenge your redundancy.

Make sure you get your other redundancy rights.

Whether or not your redundancy is fair, you should also check that you get your correct notice period.

If you’ll have been working for your employer for at least 2 years by the time you leave you should also get redundancy pay and paid time off to look for work.

Tom Togher

October 2021.