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Redundancy rights explained amid job loss fears

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Following the news interest rates have been raised further, a leading barrister is urging employers to understand their and their employees’ legal rights when it comes to redundancy, amid heightened job loss concerns. 

In response to economic concerns regarding the rising cost of living, the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee raised UK interest rates to 5.25% in this week.  This came as the 14th consecutive increase of UK interest rates from 0.1% in December 2021.

The anticipated rise in interest rates has led to commentators suggesting that an increase in redundancies could follow, leaving many employees facing possible redundancy. It is expected that the number of unemployed workers available for jobs will rise to its highest level since December 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With job uncertainty returning, employers must be equipped with the correct and current legal knowledge of their employment rights. 

Andrew Rhodes, an employment barrister at No5 Barristers’ Chambers, said: “Before you can make someone redundant, employers are required to make reasonable efforts to obtain other employment within the business, which might include making them aware of other vacancies that they have the qualifications to fulfil.

“When companies have selected the positions that need to be reduced, they are required to inform those potentially affected. As well as informing employees, companies must also contact their union. If workers do not have one, this step can be skipped. Employers are required to consult with affected employees throughout the redundancy process and take on board any suggestions they may have for how to avoid their roles being made redundant. 

“Once all of the necessary parties have been informed, you will then be required to decide the criteria by which employees will be measured to see if they will be kept on or made redundant.  The criteria set out by employers has to be fair and avoid any potential discrimination towards people with the nine protected characteristics. This includes race, sex, disability, pregnancy and maternity. The criteria must be fair, objective and measurable to prevent any discrimination. If an employee has evidence that the criteria was biased against one of the nine characteristics, they can take their ex-employer to the tribunal.

“When this has been set out and workers have been informed, it cannot be deviated from.  If an ex-employee has evidence that an employer altered the redundancy selection criteria during the process, they can take them to the employment tribunal and claim unfair dismissal. This could result in the workplace being forced to offer the role back to the worker or having to pay compensation.

“If they are letting a worker go, employers are legally required to give them a redundancy payment in line with their salary and length of employment. The amount is set out in law and depends on the employee’s age and how long they’ve been in their job. It is best to seek legal advice to discuss the correct amount.”

For more information, visit www.no5.com.

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