What are my rights after I've been made redundant?
Content / trigger warning
Your employer always had the responsibility to treat you fairly at any point of your employment, but especially if you’ve been made redundant or they’re considering making redundancies. Although it may seem like they hold all the power, you do have rights when being made redundant.
When can redundancies happen
Redundancies happen when your employer has one or more jobs they can’t afford or no longer need.
But your employer should only consider making you redundant if the company:
- Is closing, or in the process of closing,
- Needs to change the number of roles needed to do a certain job, and/or
- Has to change locations.
If you’re dismissed for another reason, say poor performance, it’s not redundancy. Check out our article “I’ve been dismissed: what are my rights” to learn more about getting dismissed.
What are your rights during redundancy
If you’re being made redundant, you should first check if your redundancy has been fair. There are three rights you have to ensure a fair process:
1. Right to be protected against discrimination
If you were made redundant because of a protected characteristic you have, this is illegal. While you can have a protected characteristic and be made redundant, it cannot be the reason why you’ve been made redundant.
This doesn’t have to be blatant either. If a group with a protected characteristic was more likely to be chosen to be made redundant, this is also illegal.
For example, if you were made redundant because you’ve taken the most sick leave as you’re disabled, this would be discriminatory. If you’ve been discriminated due to a protected characteristic, learn how you can make a Tribunal claim.
2. Right for a fair reason
If you’re being made redundant, it needs to be for a fair reason. Your redundancy may be unfair because you:
- Asked for your rights at work, e.g. minimum wage, holiday leave, etc.
- Took action about health and safety
- Are a whistleblower
- Are in a trade union or have been part of a strike
These are automatically unfair reasons and are tied with automatic unfair dismissal. You can still be made redundant if you have done the above, but it cannot be the main reason you were chosen.
3. Right for collective consultation
If your employer is considering a group or mass redundancy of 20 or more employees, by law, they must consult you.
If you have a union at work, your employer must contact your union. Otherwise, they’ll contact representatives from their employees. A representative may already exist, but you may have to vote for someone to represent you.
There are additional rights depending on your length of employment.
- If you’ve worked at your company for over two years, your employer has to be reasonable and fair when choosing you for redundancy.
- If you have worked for your employer for less than two years, your employer doesn’t have to show that they’ve chosen you reasonably. However, they still can’t discriminate against you.
What happens if your employer doesn’t consult you?
If your employer does not hold a collective consultation after a mass redundancy or layoff, you may be eligible for Protective Award.
A Protective Award is compensation given to you by an Employment Tribunal because your employer broke the law by not consulting you beforehand. Learn more about Protective Awards here.
In the UK, employers who are looking to make more than 20 people redundant have to notify their employees and the Government in advance of redundancies happening. And they must work with their employees to see if their jobs can be saved.