In deciding to make you redundant your employer must follow certain procedures and considerations and, although there is little you can do to reverse the decision, the employer will have certain obligations towards you.
Firstly, all dismissal procedures are subject to:
- Legal requirements
- Employment contracts
- Staff association and union agreements
Good employment practice recognises that:
- You are given as much warning as possible
- Alternative employment is offered, where possible, which you are not obliged to accept
- Fair and objective criteria will be used to determine who gets made redundant
- Communication between the employer and employees, or their representatives, remains open
If you have worked for the company for more than two years, you are entitled to take paid time off work in order to look for a new job. This should be a reasonable amount of time, taking into account travel time to and from interviews etc.
This happens when a company no longer requires an employee to turn up for work once the redundancy has been announced, or resignation accepted. This means that you are placed on leave, with immediate effect.
Although you will continue to draw a salary from the company for the duration of your notice period you are not required to report for work. Contractually you are not permitted to take up additional employment during this time.
The main motive behind this is to stop aggrieved employees from sabotaging company activities or working for competitors. However, some companies prefer to make a lump sum payment to the employee to free them from this contractual tie.
Selection criteria for compulsory redundancy
The employer needs to ensure that the criteria used for selection are carefully considered and defined, and then applied fairly and consistently to all employees within the company or department. The criteria also have to be agreed with the employees' representatives, if there are any.
In the case of a large number of redundancies, the employer has to make a clear statement identifying the pool of employees from which the redundancies will be made and has to consider whether any of the jobs are interchangeable.
Criteria may include:
- Length of service
- Last in, first out
- Measure of applicable skills
- Performance, attendance and disciplinary record
Criteria may not include:
- Sex or race
- Maternity or disability
- Trade union affiliation
- Carrying out representative activities on behalf of employees
Any of the above could, if proven, be grounds for claiming unfair dismissal.
In addition, your employer may have to inform the Department of Trade and Industry, depending on the number of people being made redundant. Failure to do so is a criminal offence, which could result in prosecution.
- For dismissals of 100 or more employees over a period of 90 days or less, notice must be give to the DTI at least 90 days in advance.
- For dismissals of 20 to 99 employees over a period of 90 days or less, the notice period is 30 days
- For less than 20 employees no notification is required
Mergers and takeovers
When your employer is taken over by another company, the new owner is bound by the existing work contracts and is obligated to continue following the correct redundancy procedures.
This obligation is enforced by the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) regulation (otherwise known as TUPE). Mergers and takeovers are very often the cause of redundancies.
This is an unavoidable situation but in such cases fair compensation is usually the outcome. If, however, the nature of your position changes dramatically as a result of a merger or takeover, and you find it unacceptable, it may be grounds for you to claim constructive or unfair dismissal.
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