UK redundancy rights: how much notice your employer must give - and unfair dismissal explained

Of course, the best course of action is to check your own contract

(Photo: Shutterstock)

With coronavirus continuing to wreak havoc on the economy, even as lockdown restrictions slowly ease, it’s an uncertain time for many.

Job losses, furloughing and unemployment have all increased over the past few months - but what can you do if you face redundancy as a result of the crisis?

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Of course, the best course of action is to check your own contract. When it comes to redundancy, employers may offer more than the amounts and lengths of time listed below, but they legally cannot give you less.

Here’s everything you need to know.

What is redundancy?

Being made redundant is different from being ‘sacked’ or 'fired’, as the employee facing redundancy usually has done nothing wrong. The move is often a cost-cutting measure used by a company to reduce its expenditure.

As such, redundancy packages are often (though not always) offered. These are monetary deals to ease the burden of being unemployed between jobs.

Other ‘perks’ may be offered in place of such packages, such as consultations with your employer or time off to find a new job.

Why might I be selected for redundancy?

Your company must select you for redundancy in a fair way - for example because of your level of experience or capability to do the job - and cannot discriminate on the basis of age, gender, or if you’re disabled or pregnant. This could be classed as unfair dismissal.

There are a number of commonly used methods for selecting which employees are made redundant.

Employees with the shortest length of service may be selected first, or the company could ask employees to volunteer for redundancy. Disciplinary records could also be taken into account, as well as staff appraisal markings, skills, qualifications, and experience.

Employers needn’t follow selection processes under a number of special circumstances, for instance if they’re closing down a whole operation in a company and making all the employees working in it redundant, or if there is only one employee in a part of the organisation.

You cannot be selected for the following reasons - if you were, your redundancy would be classed as an unfair dismissal:

- Sex

- Gender reassignment

- Marital status

- Sexual orientation

- Race

- Disability

- Religion or belief

- Age

- Your membership or non-membership of a trade union

- Health and safety activities

- Working pattern, for example part-time or fixed-term employees

- Maternity leave, birth or pregnancy

- Paternity leave, parental or dependants leave

- Exercising your statutory rights

- Whistleblowing, for example making disclosures about your employer’s wrongdoing

- Taking part in lawful industrial action lasting 12 weeks or less

- Taking action on health and safety grounds

- Doing jury service

- Being the trustee of a company pension scheme

Am I entitled to redundancy pay?

You’ll normally be entitled to statutory redundancy pay if you’re an employee and you’ve been working for your current employer for two years or more.

You’ll generally get:

- Half a week’s pay for each full year you were under 22

- One week’s pay for each full year you were 22 or older, but under 41

- One and half week’s pay for each full year you were 41 or older

You’re not entitled to statutory redundancy pay if:

- Your employer offers to keep you on

- Your employer offers you suitable alternative work which you refuse without good reason

What notice should I be given?

You must be given a notice period before your employment ends. The statutory redundancy notice periods are at least one week’s notice if employed between one month and two years, one week’s notice for each year if employed between two and 12 years, or 12 weeks’ notice if employed for 12 years or more.

As well as statutory redundancy pay, your employer should either pay you through your notice period, or pay you in lieu of notice, depending on your circumstances.

For more information on redundancy, and other support you may be entitled to, head to the Government’s website