Redundancies and Dismissals
Redundancies and dismissals in the workplace are disruptive and traumatic for both employee and employer. These are occasions when top class legal advice is crucial to ensure the law is observed and fairness prevails at every stage of the process.
It is important to understand what redundancy is: Redundancies are a form of dismissal that occurs when an employee’s job ceases to exist. This can be due to a variety of causes – workforce reduction, business closure or when the work is no longer needed, perhaps through a change of business circumstances, or the introduction of new work practises e.g. automation. Also, office moves can result in redundancy.
Other dismissals may arise either because of an employee’s failure to complete set tasks satisfactorily or through gross negligence or a disciplinary issue in the work place; there are often a combination of concerns from the employer leading to a dismissal notice. In both redundancy and dismissal cases an employee must have had two years continuous service with the employer before any financial claims can be made for unfair dismissal although there are exceptions to this rule. Whatever the length of service, it is prudent for employers to follow procedures in both redundancy and other dismissal cases that offers consultation with the employees.
If an employee feels he/she has been unfairly dismissed he/she can bring a claim against the employer, in most cases this is again subject to having had two years continuous service. Exceptions to this rule are often linked to some form of discrimination or whistleblowing and it is wise to obtain specialist advice from employment law professionals like Davies and Partners (www.daviesandpartners.com) to check out the legitimacy of any unfair dismissal case before proceeding. Successful outcomes of claims normally involve a basic award which take into account age, length of service and remuneration and is calculated on the same basis as a redundancy payment. An employee can also recover compensation for loss of earnings up to a maximum of one year’s salary, capped at just over £80,000.
Constructive dismissal is more complex. This can arise if an employer announces without warning or any consultation that there will be major changes to an employee’s contract of employment e.g. a unilateral pay cut, withdrawal of key benefits like private healthcare provision, company car or a reduction in pension contributions. Workplace intimidation from senior managers, bullying, offensive behaviour and inappropriate e-mails resulting in an employee resigning can be construed as constructive dismissal. However, such cases need very careful scrutiny and sound legal advice is essential before any aggrieved employee takes any spur of the moment actions. The two year employment rule still applies in these circumstances but again there can be exceptions.
In case of redundancies there are formal procedures which every employer should adhere to. Employees may be eligible for certain rights including consultation with the employer, time off to look for work, redundancy pay and sometimes a consultation period of at least thirty days. Consultation can be individual or collective; if over twenty employees are being made redundant the consultation period can be as great as forty five days.
ACAS provides a help and advice booklet for both employees and employers. However, it is best to seek professional assistance from legal firms like Davies and Partners who have offices in Birmingham, the Midlands, the South West and London. They can give both employees and employers the necessary one-to-one guidance and advice at what is a critical and stressful time for all the parties concerned.