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Redundancy – procedures your employer must follow

About redundancy

On this page, we tell you about the procedures your employer must follow when they make your redundant.

These procedures include:

  • how people are chosen for redundancy
  • consulting with you before you are made redundant
  • following a three-step dismissal process
  • giving you proper notice of redundancy
  • offering you alternative work, where possible
  • giving you time off to look for another job.

There are other pages on this site which also tell you about redundancy. These are:

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Choosing people for redundancy

Before deciding to make anyone redundant, there must be a genuine need for redundancy. Sometimes, employers say you are redundant when this is not the real reason for dismissing you. To find out more about this, see When can your employer make you redundant.

When choosing employees for redundancy, your employer must use a method which is fair and which does not discriminate against you for reasons such as your race or sex. They must base their decisions on some evidence, for example, on disciplinary records, rather than just deciding to get rid of you because they don't like you.

If a method for deciding redundancies has been agreed with a trade union, or there is a procedure written down in your employment contract, your employer should follow it.

Even if there is no redundancy procedure written down in your employment contract, there may be a procedure which your employer has used regularly in the past and which the workforce has not objected to. If this is the case, your employer must follow this procedure, unless it is an unfair one.

If your employer uses an unfair selection procedure, this could be unfair dismissal and you may be able to claim compensation from an employment tribunal. In England, Wales and Scotland, to make a claim for unfair dismissal, you must have worked for your employer for at least one year if you started before 6 April 2012 or at least two years if you started on or after 6 April 2012. In Northern Ireland, you must have worked for your employer for at least one year. If there was discrimination involved in the redundancy procedures, you can bring a discrimination claim regardless of how long you have worked for your employer.

As well as claiming unfair dismissal, you may also be able to claim redundancy pay. You must have worked for your employer for at least two years to get statutory redundancy pay.

Consulting you about redundancy

Fewer than 20 people are being made redundant

If your employer is thinking about making you redundant, they should consult with you before making a decision.

If they don't do this, your dismissal for redundancy is potentially unfair even if you are in a genuine redundancy situation.

If your employer has not consulted with you before making you redundant, you should seek the help of an experienced adviser, such as at a Citizens Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by e-mail, click on nearest CAB.

20 or more people are being made redundant

Where an employer is making 20 or more employees at one workplace redundant, this is called a collective redundancy. As well as consulting with you individually, employers making a collective redundancy have to follow a more formal consultation procedure – they must consult with a recognized trade union where there is one. Where there is no recognized trade union, your employer must consult with employee representatives before issuing redundancy notices.

If they don't do this, you can go to an employment tribunal who could order your employer to compensate you for their failure to follow proper procedures.

If your employer has not consulted with you before making you redundant, you should seek the help of an experienced adviser, such as at a Citizen's Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by e-mail, click on nearest CAB.

Discrimination and choosing people for redundancy

It's against the law to choose you for redundancy because of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation. This would be discrimination.

It may also be against the law to choose people for redundancy just because they work part-time or are pregnant, as this would be sex discrimination or discrimination because of pregnancy. This is the case even if you have volunteered for redundancy. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has produced an information booklet on managing redundancy for employees who are pregnant or on maternity leave. It is available from the EHRC website at www.equalityhumanrights.com.

An employer can choose to make you redundant because of how long you've been working for them. For example, they can say that all employees who have worked for the company for less than one year will be made redundant. However, this might mean that more young people are made redundant which could potentially count as age discrimination.

If you've been chosen for redundancy and you think the reason is discrimination, you may have the right to compensation. You can claim compensation for discrimination regardless of how long you've worked for your employer.

If you think you've been chosen for redundancy because of discrimination, you should seek the help of an experienced adviser, such as at a Citizen's Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by e-mail, click on nearest CAB.

For more information about discrimination at work, see our Discrimination pages.

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Dismissal procedures

In England, Wales and Scotland

If your employer is thinking about making you redundant, they must follow a fair procedure when choosing who to make redundant.

For more information about the procedures your employer must follow before dismissing you, see Sorting out problems at work.

In Northern Ireland

In most circumstances, if your employer wants to dismiss you or discipline you, they must follow proper dismissal and disciplinary procedures laid down by law.

For more information about the procedures your employer must follow before dismissing you, see Resolving disputes at work in Northern Ireland.

Taking voluntary redundancy

Where jobs are to disappear, an employer may ask for employees to volunteer for redundancy. Even if you take voluntary redundancy, it will still count as a dismissal and your employer must still follow the proper procedures. You won't lose any right you may have to redundancy pay.

If you volunteer for redundancy, it is up to your employer whether they actually select you.

Get expert advice about whether it's worth choosing voluntarily redundancy.

To get advice about whether it's worth choosing voluntary redundancy, you should seek the help of an experienced adviser, such as at a Citizen's Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by e-mail, click on nearest CAB.

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Suitable alternative job offers

If your employer intends to make you redundant, they must consider whether there are other jobs available which you would be capable of doing.

If a suitable job is available, your employer should offer it to you instead of making you redundant.

If a suitable job is available, but your employer fails to offer it to you without a good reason, this could mean that you have been unfairly dismissed and you can make a claim to an employment tribunal.

Whether the alternative job that your employer offers you is suitable will depend on a number of things. These include:

  • the sort of job it is
  • the pay you will get
  • the hours you'll have to work
  • where the job is located
  • your skills, abilities and personal circumstances.

Your employer doesn't have to offer you a similar sort of job or a job in the same workplace.

The offer of alternative employment must be made before your current job ends. The offer can be made in writing or verbally. You must be given enough details about the new job so you know what the difference is between this one and your current job.

If you refuse an alternative job offer

If your employer offers you a suitable alternative job and you turn it down without a good reason, you may lose any right you may have to redundancy pay.

You and your employer may disagree about whether a job is suitable or whether your refusal is unreasonable. If this is the case, you can ask an employment tribunal to decide whether you are entitled to redundancy pay.

To get advice about going to an employment tribunal, you should seek the help of an experienced adviser, such as at a Citizen's Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by e-mail, click on nearest CAB.

Trying out an alternative job

If you’re considering the offer of an alternative job with your employer, you have a right to try out the job before you decide whether or not to take it.

You can work in the new job for a trial period of four weeks. The trial period will start immediately after your previous job ended.

If you decide the new job isn't suitable, you can give notice during the trial period without affecting any right you might have to redundancy pay. If you haven't given notice by the end of the trial period, your right to redundancy pay ends.

Your employer may offer you a number of alternative jobs. Each offer must give you enough details about the job about the new job so you know what the difference is between this one and your current job.

You are entitled to a trial period in each job if you want it.

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Notice of redundancy

If you are being dismissed for redundancy, you have the right to notice. You must be given:

  • one week's notice if you’ve been employed for at least one month but less than two years
  • if you've been employed for at least two years, one week for each complete year of employment, up to a maximum of twelve weeks.
Example: Steve has been working for his company for three years and six months, that is, three complete years. He is entitled to three weeks' notice.

Your contract of employment may give you more notice than this but it can’t give you less. You should check your contract to see how much notice it gives you.

If you're unsure about how much redundancy notice you're entitled to, or think your employer has given you less than you're entitled to, you should get help from an experienced adviser, for example at a Citizens Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by e-mail, click on nearest CAB.

Training in Wales for people who are under notice of redundancy

The Welsh Government has a scheme to help people who are under notice of redundancy (or who have already been made redundant). The scheme is called ReAct and it can help you pay for training and associated costs including:

  • training to help you gain new skills (up to £2,500)
  • help with the costs of special equipment required for training
  • money towards cost of materials required for training
  • help with childcare costs.

For more information about who can apply for help, go to the Welsh Government website at: www.wales.gov.uk or phone 01792 765888.

Getting another job during the redundancy notice period

If you're under specific notice of redundancy and you have found another job, you may leave to take the new job during the notice period. However, you may lose the right to redundancy pay, if you don't follow a specific legal procedure.

For more information about the specific legal procedure you must follow in these circumstances, go to an experienced adviser, for example at a Citizens Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by e-mail, click on nearest CAB.

Time off to look for work when you're under notice of redundancy

If you've been given notice of redundancy, you have the right to paid time off to look for a new job. You have this right as long as, by the time your notice period ends, you've worked for your employer for at least two years. There are some employees who are not entitled to paid time off to look for work. These are:

  • employees who've worked for their employers for less than two years
  • merchant seamen
  • share fishermen
  • members of the armed forces
  • police service employees.

There are no rules about exactly how much time your employer has to give you, but it must be reasonable. What is reasonable will depend on the circumstances. For example, it might depend on the difficulty of finding work in certain areas, the time and travel involved and the range of jobs you're looking at.

How much pay you will get for time you take off

Your employer only has to pay you up to two-fifths of a week's pay for time you take off to look for another job during the the whole of the notice period. This means if you work a five-day week, you will only get paid for two days, however many days you actually take off. If you work for two and a half days a week, you will still get two-fifths of your week's pay, however many days you actually take off.

Example 1: you work five days a week and you take four days off in total during the whole notice period. Your employer only has to pay you for two days of the time you took off.

Example 2: you work 2.5 days a week and earn £120 a week. You take a week off to look for work. You will only get paid £48 for that week – that is, two-fifths of a week's work.

You are also entitled to reasonable unpaid time off on top of that.

Your contract of employment may give you more paid time off than the legal minimum.

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Other redundancy procedures your employer must follow

As well as the procedures laid down by law, there may be other redundancy procedures your employer has to follow because they are in your contract of employment. Your employer should follow these procedures when making you redundant, unless they are unfair or give you fewer rights than the legal minimum.

You should check your employment contract to see what it says about redundancy.

If you're unsure about the redundancy procedures your employer must follow or you think they have given you less rights than you're entitled to, you should get help from an experienced adviser, for example at a Citizens Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by e-mail, click on nearest CAB.

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