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Redundancy: Your rights and what to do

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Written by: Darren Sherborne | Posted 08 November 2017 8:58

Redundancy: Your rights and what to do

 

It is easy to underestimate the impact upon some people of a proposal to make them redundant, writes Darren Sherborne of Sherbornes Solicitors.

We forget that our work sometimes defines us. So, when we meet a person for the first time, one of the first questions we have is “what do they do for a living?”

This is because it tells us about the person, their status in society and for the person themselves, it can be the very foundation of their own identity. It should not be a surprise given that out of a 24 hour period, eight hours are spent sleeping, eight or more at work and the remaining time is just filling in for many. It is food, bathing, watching television. The meaningful bit is at work.

So, the best advice for someone facing a proposed redundancy is take a step back and take stock, before you do anything else. If the situation hits you harder than you expected, don’t be surprised. That’s a normal reaction.

The employer is under a duty to consult the staff before a final decision is made. That doesn’t mean that the employer has to agree with anything the staff say, but it must at least listen and consider it.

So, use the consultation process to learn more about what is happening and why. Try to understand how many people are facing redundancy and what type of employees they are. That will tell you if there is a chance to redeploy to another role.

 

Just because you have done the same job for a long time, doesn’t mean that your experience wont be valuable elsewhere in the organisation. Your employer has a duty to consider suggestions so work out what roles may still be available and think about whether or not you could do what is required with a little training.

If you are worried that your voice is not being heard, start making your statements and asking your questions in writing. Email will do, but sometimes employers can get buried in the volume of conversations around a redundancy and having made a statement in writing it can be more likely to be considered.

Also, ensure you understand each stage of the process. In large scale programmes, the first thing to be considered is the pool.

That is, the group of people who are effected. You don’t have to just accept that, if it feels too narrow, or too broad, say so. Who knows, you might have a point someone else has not thought about.

The same thing applies where there is a skills matrix used to select who should be made redundant. You don’t have to simply accept what is put in front of you. If you feel it is unfair, or does not take into account the right qualities, or even if it is too subjective, then say so before the matrix is filled in.

Such skills assessment should be carried out where possible using things such as old appraisals if they exist, to limit the subjective opinion of the marker.

If it is a personal redundancy, impacting upon you alone, you need to really understand the reasoning. You do not need to just agree or accept what is in front of you.

Be prepared to challenge the underlying assumptions if necessary, as the employer should be able to justify the reasoning behind the proposal. Remember that the law is very clear, a final decision cannot be made until you have had a chance to understand, think about and comment upon the proposal.

If in the end you are made redundant, it can hit you hard. The best advice is dust yourself off and embrace that a new chapter of your life is beginning, whether you like it or not. You might as well embrace it. In my experience, which is longer than I care to remember, almost everyone I meet who is made redundant, says six months later that it was the best thing that ever happened to them.

Darren Sherborne is the founder of Cheltenham-headquartered Sherbornes Solicitors and recognised as one of the most senior employment lawyers in Gloucestershire. He is also the only practising solicitor in the region appointed to the ACAS board of arbitration nationally. Darren has extensive experience in industrial relations and has been practising employment law for more than 20 years.

 

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