In the past five years, several changes have occurred to employment law and legislation. Employment of an employee can be dismissed at any time, but in the absence of equal retirement, an Employment Tribunal can find the employer guilty of wrongful dismissal. At McPartland & Sons, we set out below the key criteria relating to workplace redundancy…
What is Redundancy?
Under the Employment Rights Act 1996, redundancy arises when employees are dismissed due to these potential reasons:
- The employer has stopped or plans to stop carrying on the business under which the employee was so employed.
- The business requirements for employees to perform work of a particular type have ceased or decreased, or are expected to cease or decrease.
- Business conditions for employees to do work of a specific nature, at the position where they were so hired, have ceased or decreased. It can happen when the employee, whose work is obsolete, is reassigned to the role of another employee for which they have the requisite skills. The employee whose job remains is ‘bumped’ out of a job by the person whose job became redundant.
Consultation – legal requirements
Employers who plan to fire 20 or more workers at one institution have a constitutional obligation to negotiate with members of any approved independent trade union, or other elected representatives of the affected employees if no trade union is approved.
Consultation should begin in good time and must begin:
- At least 30 days before the first dismissal takes effect if 20 to 99 employees are to be made redundant at one establishment over a period of 90 days or less
- At least 45 days before the first dismissal takes effect if 100 or more employees are to be made redundant at one establishment over a period of 90 days or less.
Employers do have a contractual duty to inform the Enterprise, Energy and Industrial Strategy Department (BEIS) if they are planning to redundant 20 or more employees over a period of 90 days or less. If an employer refuses to comply, a Tribunal has the right to make up to 90 days’ pay for a security award.
However, regardless of the size and number of workers to be fired, it is common practise in all organisations for managers to meet with workers or their elected representatives at an early stage to facilitate debate as to whether the planned redundancies are appropriate at all.
They should then ensure that the contents of any agreed procedures and the opportunities available for consultation and representation are made known to the individual. Although it is not an obligation to follow a disciplinary and dismissal procedure that meets the requirements of the ACAS Code of Practice, namely to include a letter setting out the reasons for the potential redundancy, a meeting and an appeal process, it is best practice to do so.
Unfair selection for redundancy
An employee will be deemed to have been unfairly selected for redundancy for the following reasons:
- By reasons of discrimination
- Participation in trade union activities
- Maternity–related grounds
- Taking action on health and safety grounds as a designated or recognised health and safety representative
- Carrying out duties as an employee representative for purposes of consultation on redundancies
- Taking part in an election of an employee representative
- Asserting a statutory employment right
The right to a redundancy payment
Employees who have at least two years’ continuous service qualify for a redundancy payment. If you are entitled to statutory redundancy pay the calculation is based on how long you have been employed for, your age and your weekly pay (up to a £560 maximum). You should check your employment contract to see if your employer offers a more generous redundancy package.
How we can help
If you are an employer in the Northern Ireland area we will be more than happy to provide you with assistance or any additional information required on redundancy procedures so please do contact us at McPartland & Sons.