Redundancy Advice

Further information on this page:

 


How we can support members facing possible redundancy

There is no stigma attached to redundancy.  It is an unhappy event for the whole workforce and an employee selected for redundancy is not to blame.  Nevertheless, the consequences for the employee are the same as dismissal for any other reason and the process is no less stressful.  Our role as your union is to protect your interests and to offer you support and advice as part of a dedicated and personal service.  This is how we can help.

 

Information Clarification

You may want information in advance of a possible redundancy situation at work.  Alternatively, something may have been announced at your workplace that you would like us to clarify.  Please do not hesitate to contact us.  Either:

We may refer you to your local Regional Officer or your local Field Officer, or you may wish to contact them direct

If you are in a situation where your job may be potentially at risk, please contact your local Voice representative as soon as possible in order to ensure that the most effective support can be provided from the outset.

 

Casework Assistance

Casework assistance in redundancy cases is provided by indemnified caseworkers who may be Field Officers or paid Professional or Regional Officers of Voice.  The stage of the redundancy procedure where you require assistance and its complexity will determine whether the case is dealt with by a Field Officer or paid officer.

 

Helping You at Key Stages in the Redundancy Process

A. Consultation

There are statutory requirements for consultation with recognised trade unions.  There are also requirements for alternative consultation, apart from with recognised unions.

Consultation must include ways of avoiding the dismissals, reducing the numbers to be dismissed and mitigating the consequences of the dismissal.  This can include:

  • seeking volunteers for redundancy or early retirement;
  • staff redeployment;
  • natural wastage, for example normal resignations;
  • retirement of employees who are beyond normal retirement age;
  • retraining staff or transferring them to other work;
  • restrictions on recruitment;
  • job-share arrangements;
  • reviewing temporary/casual appointments.

If you contact us at the earliest opportunity we will make every effort to attend redundancy consultation meetings.  Where this is not possible, we will contact your employer to register our interest on your behalf and we will request:

  • the reasons leading the employer to its proposals, for example, details of any budget shortfall;
  • the number and descriptions of staff the employer proposes to make redundant;
  • details of the proposed method of selection (the selection criteria);
  • the procedures and timescale;
  • the proposed method of calculating redundancy pay on the basis of either actual pay or the statutory minimum.

 

B. The Selection Process

Where a choice has to be made between employees to be selected for redundancy, each employee should know in advance what the selection criteria are, have an opportunity of putting forward his/her case against selection and, if selected, have the right of appeal against selection.  As in any other formal procedures, the employee has the right to be represented.

It is probable that you will be required to complete a skills audit or a similar document.  For advice on how best to complete a skills audit, see Completing a redundancy skills audit.

You may, additionally, find it helpful to talk through the skills audit with us; with either your caseworker or the Duty Officer (details above).  You may wish to contact us by e-mail.  You may be invited to discuss how to complete your skills audit with a senior colleague at work and we strongly advise members to take up that facility.

 

C.  Personal Hearing

You will be entitled to be accompanied by a colleague or union representative at all the formal meetings under a redundancy procedure.  The role of representative at a formal meeting is to:

  • put and sum up your case;
  • respond on your behalf to any views expressed at the hearing;
  • ask questions of any witnesses on your behalf;
  • but not to answer questions on your behalf.

D. Appeals

An independent internal appeal process is necessary in any dismissal procedure and redundancy is no exception.  You are entitled to representation as described above.

E . Alternative employment

Whenever it is possible, the employer must seek alternative employment for a redundant employee.  This is not a formal process but you are assured of our continued assistance and advice. 

F. Legal Challenges

Tribunal proceedings cannot be lodged until the dismissal date and the deadline is three months from that date.  Employment tribunal cases that require more than one day in hearing (most unfair dismissal cases do) usually take around twelve months to get to a hearing.

Our practice in all potential tribunal cases is to explore the possibility of an early settlement with the employer.  One way of doing this is through pre-claim conciliation.  This can start in the three months up to the tribunal deadline.  It is conciliation conducted by ACAS.  You do not have to choose between conciliation and a tribunal claim.  If conciliation does not achieve a settlement you can still proceed with a claim. 

We provide members with tribunal representation, either internally thorough our legal team or through our external employment solicitors.  In either case, we need to assess the claim as having reasonable prospects of success.

 

Fair redundancy procedures:  Key points:

  • Were employees warned and consulted about the redundancy?
  • Were the union’s view sought?
  • Are the selection criteria objectively chosen and fairly applied?
  • Was any alternative work available?
  • Was the procedure followed and was it a fair procedure?
  • Was the correct group of staff in the selection pool?
  • Were staff audits analysed accurately?
  • Were the selection criteria and manner of selection fair?
  • Was there any discriminatory redundancy selection?

 

Continuous Service – an important point to check

In a redundancy situation your continuous service is an important asset.

  • The right not to be unfairly dismissed and the right to a redundancy payment require two years' continuous service.
  • The redundancy payment is based on age, weekly pay and continuous service.
  • All employees are legally entitled to one week’s pay for each year of service up to a maximum of twelve weeks.

A number of points should be noted:

i.  Part-timers are protected on exactly the same basis as full-time colleagues.  There are no longer any hours of work conditions.  If an employee has one/two years’ service it is irrelevant how many hours a week s/he works.

ii. Periods of absence off work sick or on maternity or family leave count as part of continuous service.

iii. Employment under a series of fixed-term contracts with no break in between counts as continuous service.

iv. When staff move from one public sector education institution to another, without a break, service is counted as continuous for redundancy payment purposes under the Redundancy Payment (Continuity of Employment in Local Government etc) (Modification) Order.  This does not cover continuous service for unfair dismissal but continuity is preserved for redundancy purposes when staff work successively in:

  • LA maintained schools (this includes voluntary-aided and foundation schools);
  • Trust schools and Academies;
  • CityTechnology College;
  • maintained further education colleges; or
  • universities and colleges funded by the Higher Education Funding Council (HEFC).

So if you are made redundant by one of these employers the length of service used in your redundancy payment calculation is based on all your unbroken service in any of them.

v. Continuity of employment is not affected by a transfer of undertakings or, in the case of a school, change of status.  Employees whose schools transferred from foundation or voluntary aided status to Trust schools have no change of employer, it remains the governing body.  Where a community or voluntary controlled school becomes a Trust school, the staff will be protected by TUPE because the employer changes from the Local Authority to the governing body.

vi. The same applies when a school takes on Academy status.

vii.  The general rule is that a break in service eliminates continuous service up to the break, but the law also says that a "temporary cessation of work" does not break continuous service.  An employee with a long period of overall service with only a few small breaks in the course of that service (e.g. term time contracts) may be able to argue that these breaks are temporary cessations of work. 

viii. Employment in an independent setting, such as an independent school or nursery, does not count towards continuous service in other education settings and each period of employment is normally regarded as separate.

A redundancy dismissal is automatically unfair if the reason, or a principal reason, for the selection is an inadmissible reason. This includes selection on grounds of sex, race, disability, age, sexual orientation, religion or belief, pregnancy, trade union activities or health and safety activities.

 

Consultation

Unless it is utterly futile, an employee likely to be made redundant must be consulted. 

The Benefits of Continuous Service:

1. Unfair dismissal protection after one year.

2. A redundancy payment after two years.  Redundancy pay is calculated using this formula:

  • 0.5 week’s pay for each full year of service (aged less than 22)
  • 1.0 week’s pay for each full year of service (aged 22 or above, but less than 41)
  • 1.5 weeks’ pay for each full year of service (aged 41+)

3. Notice rights

This could be very important for you.

Your contractual notice entitlement may be one month or four weeks, but you could have a statutory right of up to twelve weeks.

Contracts of employment for teachers in the maintained sector tie notice to the end of each school term.  If one end of term date is missed, notice runs to the next end term date.  The employer cannot just make good the shortfall in notice.  So a teacher with twelve years’ service, or more, is entitled to twelve weeks’ notice, which in the autumn and Easter terms is around the end of September and January respectively.

 

Completing a redundancy skills audit

The information you should have been given about the redundancy process

Before you are asked to complete a skills audit you should have been told:

  • the number of proposed redundancies;
  • which group(s) of staff will be affected;
  • key dates in the process;
  • the selection criteria – how staff will be selected if the reduction(s) are compulsory and how skills audits will be used.

 

The information you should have been given about the skills audit

You should also be given information about the contents of the skills audit.  Good practice is for management to meet the pool of staff at risk and talk them through the school’s priorities so that staff understand how they can complete their skills audit to match them. Individual meetings are often offered.

You should be clear about:

  • which are the stated curriculum/organisational needs of the school;
  • what qualifications, experience, skills, flexibility etc will be used in the selection process.

 

Completing the matrix

The matrix itself is usually based on a range of information requested by the employer to identify the profile of the employee and to ascertain their suitability for the position.  It can either be in question form or requesting detailed information.  Whichever the format is, it enables an individual, dependent on the structure of the matrix, to provide the relevant information relating to their skills and qualifications.

A skills audit can also be utilised, for example, by an LA where there is a potential for redeployment, and completion of the audit matrix can enable the individual to provide a breakdown of their skills, knowledge and qualifications that could enable them to be redeployed into another suitable position.  The affected individual should include all relevant points that they feel they undertake within their role.

To provide a fair and transparent process, all affected individuals would be asked to complete the same documentation.  The responses are then evaluated within the matrix and scored appropriately.  

When you are completing the matrix:

  • make sure you sell yourself;
  • use relevant terminology at every opportunity;
  • be sure that you have fully reflected all your qualifications, skills and experience.

 

Your employer’s responsibility

The next step for management is to transfer all the information from the skills audits into a matrix.  The employer must be able to show at any hearing in the redundancy that it has undertaken a fair and accurate skills audit and to show exactly how the selection criteria have been applied.  For any such hearing the employer should be prepared to provide anonymous details of the skills audit to the individual affected, his/her union representative and the hearing panel.

 

Voice’s advice

Our advice to members is to co-operate in a properly conducted skills audit.  It is fair for your employer to aim to retain the balance of staff skills and experience it needs.  Your managers may well be unaware of the full range of your qualifications and your breadth of experience.

 

How Will A New Job Affect Your Redundancy Payment?

A new job starting after the date of termination of the redundant post does not generally affect your redundancy pay.  However, in the maintained sector the position is far from simple.  There are seven possible scenarios, as follows:

Scenario 1:  Employment with authority A ends because of redundancy and the employee has no job to go to.  There is a redundancy payment.   

Scenario 2:  Employment with authority A ends because of redundancy and the employee takes a new job immediately with an employer to which the Redundancy Payments Modification Orders (see below) do not apply. There is a redundancy payment.

Scenario 3:  Employment with authority A ends because of redundancy and the employee takes up another job with an employer covered by the Redundancy Payments Modification Orders, but after a 4 week break in service.  There is a redundancy payment. 

Scenario 4: Employment with authority A ends because of redundancy, and after it has ended the employee is offered a job with an employer covered by the Redundancy Payments Modification Orders and that job starts within 4 weeks.  There is a redundancy payment.

Scenario 5: Employment with authority A ends because of redundancy, but before the termination date the employee is offered, and accepts, a job with an employer covered by the Redundancy Payments Modification Orders and that job starts within 4 weeks of the termination date.  There is no redundancy payment.

Scenario 6:  Employment with an independent employer ends because of redundancy and the employee starts work with a new independent employer immediately afterwards.  There is a redundancy payment.

Scenario 7: As in 6, but the new employment is at a maintained school.  There is a redundancy payment.

The Redundancy Payments Modification Orders contain a list of employers covered by the Orders.  This includes all Local Authorities in England, Wales and Scotland, Foundation schools, City Technology Colleges, Trusts, Academies and college corporations.