The prospect of being made redundant is anxiety-inducing. Employees can sometimes feel that they are entirely at the mercy of their employer’s decisions. This is not the case. Employment law requires employers to provide the opportunity for employees to actively participate in processes that concern them, including redundancy.
If you have been informed that you may be, or have been, made redundant, know that the conversation doesn’t end there. The employer is obliged to operate in good faith, and you have important employment rights that you should exercise to ensure the employer does so.
You have a right to request information under the Employment Relations Act 2000. This is an important right to exercise if your position has been made redundant or if the employer is considering making your position redundant. Your employer has an obligation to give you any and all information supporting their proposal to make your position redundant.
A redundancy must be made for genuine business reasons. It cannot be used as a way for employers to ‘get rid of’ employment problems, such as making employees redundant who are subject to performance management or disciplinary matters. Remember it is the position that employers are ‘getting rid of’, not the employee.
You should be consulted before being told that you have been made redundant. Consultation rights comprise of a number of elements:
If you have provided feedback, your employer should genuinely consider it.
The employer must use fair and reasonable criteria to assess who will be made redundant. This criteria must be communicated to those who are possibly facing redundancy so they can understand why their role is being made redundant. Employers must apply that criteria and not make decisions on redundancy for other reasons.
It is important for you to give feedback on the redundancy proposal, especially if your role is to be affected. This right gives you the opportunity to put your response forward to the employer, and you should use it. Let your employer know if you have an alternative proposal to put forward or you believe your role has been incorrectly characterised. Your employer is obliged to genuinely consider your feedback to the proposal.
If your employer has created new roles during the restructuring process, you should be considered for redeployment if:
If you are deemed unsuitable for another role and you disagree, raise this with your employer.
If the above processes have been followed and your role is made redundant, your employer must give you notice of this redundancy.
Your employer must follow all clauses in your employment agreement and applicable workplace policies related to redundancy. If your agreement does not contain such a redundancy clause, you could ask to be paid in lieu of your notice period. This will allow you to look for another job whilst having the security of income. Most employers will do this as it is considered fair and reasonable.
Your employment agreement may stipulate that you are entitled to an amount of redundancy compensation. If your agreement does not contain such a clause, you could negotiate this with your employer. It is a good idea to come up with a figure you think appropriate, provide the reasons for this figure and send it to your employer. This will form the basis of your negotiations.
If you are concerned that your employer has made you redundant for reasons other than genuine business reasons or that you haven’t been adequately consulted with, raise the matter with your employer. If things do not progress, consider hiring an employment lawyer. They may be able to ensure the consultation process is procedurally fair, negotiate on your behalf or, if it comes to it, raise an unjustifiable dismissal claim with the Employment Relations Authority.
Instincts are often correct. If you feel that something is wrong about the situation, reach out. An employment lawyer can help you at any step of the process. It is important not to give up as soon as redundancy is proposed to you.
Bell & Co is a boutique dispute resolution firm. We’ve led extensive restructures for clients and acted on behalf of disadvantaged employees. This guide is not a replacement for good advice. We recommend discussing your redundancy with a reputable employment lawyer. At Bell & Co, we can offer advice from both a human resources and legal point of view.
Feel free to contact us with any questions.