Legal-ease: Redundancy

The top five redundancy queries answered by our legal expert

Sadly many employers have to consider making redundancies, so here’s the legal stance:

1. Are we required to collectively consult?

The obligation applies if you are proposing to dismiss as redundant 20 or more employees at one establishment within a 90-day period. If you are proposing between 20 and 99 such redundancies the relevant period of consultation is 30 days. For 100 or more it is 45 days.

2. What about staff on maternity or sick leave?

The obligation to consult in relation to these employees still applies. If you are engaging in collective consultation make sure their representative knows how to contact them and keeps them updated with developments. For individual consultation offer to meet them at home, a neutral venue, over the phone or on Skype.

3. Should I use pooling or interview selection?

If you have a reduced requirement for work of a particular kind you should pool the employees and apply selection criteria. These should be subject to consultation but be objective and capable of independent verification. If all roles of a particular type are proposed as redundant but you have alternative employment you could apply selection criteria via a pool or interview candidates for the positions.

4. Do I need to consider bumping?

Bumping is the process of moving a potentially redundant employee into a role currently performed by another employee and dismissing that displaced employee by reason of redundancy. There is no general obligation to consider bumping, but in some cases failure to consider it may render a dismissal unfair. This could be the case where the employee is long-serving or in possession of particular skills or experience and they would be willing to undertake the other role.

5. If I’m paying in lieu of notice what is the termination date for the purposes of the statutory redundancy payment (SRP)?

Employees are entitled to SRP if they have two years’ service or more. The payment is based on age and length of service. The relevant date for calculating entitlement is the last day of work where notice is being paid in a lump sum. However, you also need to consider whether, had the employee worked their statutory notice, they would have achieved another complete year of service during that time.

Lucy Gordon is a senior solicitor at ESP Law, provider of the HR Legal Service