The Justice Blog
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The Covid-19 pandemic saw a large number of companies and employers letting go of some of their employees and limiting their teams to only a few people. Wherever we looked, it was like a growing ‘trend’ for people to have lost their jobs.
The word ‘redundant’ was becoming omnipresent in every conversation and there was a certain sense of chaos because most people had absolutely no idea about what to do and what their rights were when it comes to losing their jobs. Because yes – you’ve got rights even when you’ve been laid off!
First of all, there are a few steps that your employer has to follow when in the process of making you redundant to make the termination of the contract legally valid. These can be put together into four main categories:
- They will both go through a consultation period
- The employee will receive a redundancy notice
- The employer will give the employee at least the statutory notice period - between 1 and 12 weeks - depending on how long they’ve been in the job
- If you are on garden leave you’ll normally leave work as soon as you get your redundancy notice.
What is a consultation period?
Consultation period means the period of time during which an employer must carry out a meaningful consultation with employees who are at risk of redundancy or affected by it.
You’re entitled to a consultation with your employer if you’re being made redundant; it’s your right. During this consultation, your employer needs to explain to you why you’re being made redundant and any alternatives to redundancy. They should also explain what support is on offer if redundancy is confirmed, such as a reasonable amount of paid time off to look for new employment. Your employer must hold a genuine and meaningful consultation with you. This means they must also listen to your ideas and try to come to an agreement with you.
If your employer is making up to 19 redundancies, there are no rules about how they should carry out the consultation. However, if they’re making 20 or more redundancies at the same time, they might need to have collective consultation.
If you feel like your employer isn’t consulting in a proper manner or doesn’t consult at all, you can make a claim to an employment tribunal.
Does consultation period count as notice?
A lot of the times, there’s a fine line between the consultation period and the notice period. This is because employers want to get done with letting their employees go as soon as possible to avoid delays and reduce financial expenditure.
But these two periods; consultation and notice, are separate from one another and cannot be combined under the same duration. An employer cannot give notice of dismissal to affected employees until the consultation period has genuinely finished, and statutory notice cannot end until after the minimum consultation periods have expired.
There's no time limit for how long the period of consultation should be, but the minimum is: For 20 to 99 redundancies, the consultation must start at least 30 days before any dismissals take effect. And for 100 or more redundancies, the consultation must start at least 45 days before any dismissals take effect.
The consultation can finish before the end of the minimum consultation period, but the dismissal cannot take effect (i.e. the notice period come to an end) until after the expiry of the minimum consultation period.
In other words, the statutory notice period can only start once the consultation period has genuinely completed.
How much notice period should my employer give me?
If you're being made redundant, it’s your right that your employer must tell you how long your notice period is – whether it’s statutory or contractual and keep paying you until the end of your notice period.
You'll usually carry on working until the end of your notice period. How much notice you get depends on how long you've worked for the employer.
- If the employee has been employed for between one week and two years, then the notice period is one week
- For between two and twelve years of employment, the notice period is one week for each complete year of employment
- For employment over twelve years, the notice period is capped at twelve weeks
Employers will need to check each employee’s contract to confirm if they are entitled contractually to enhanced notice above the statutory minimum. If the employer is not complying with regulations, you can make a claim to an employment tribunal.
It's a good idea to talk with your employer if there's any part of your redundancy notice you're not sure about. For example, you could ask them for information regarding the length of your notice period and what date your notice period starts, if you can leave before the end of your notice period and if you need to take any unused holiday before you leave, if you'll still get contractual benefits, for example a fuel card or mobile phone, during your notice period.
Can I challenge my redundancy ?
If your employer hasn’t followed the mandatory steps to make you redundant, you can challenge their malpractice in court or through other dispute resolution services.
Employment tribunals are an affordable, accessible way to claim your rights. Those tribunals are official adjudication bodies that offer an affordable way to challenge illegal practices in the work place.
Submitting your claim to an employment tribunal is free. You also don’t need a lawyer. Moreover, settling a case through an employment tribunal works a lot faster than for regular court cases. It usually takes 6-12 months.
A judge will make a decision if your employer broke the law and if they did, you may have to be reinstated or compensated.
In conclusion, if you have been made redundant, not all is lost.Whatever happens, you still have rights!