As Christmas approaches, here at Backhouse Solicitors we enter one of our busiest times of the year.  For businesses, New Year’s Eve isn’t just about drinking a bit too much and resolving to start going to the gym.  December 31st is the end of the financial year for many companies in the UK.  This means that as these employers look at their accounts for November, they often realise that they need to make some cutbacks in order to have a clean slate for the new financial year.  This process frequently leads to employees being made redundant.
So what is redundancy? 
When an employee has been made redundant, it means that the reason for their dismissal is not linked to their job performance in any way, but is largely attributable to their employer.  Generally, redundancy is caused by companies downsizing their workforce, closing their workplace, or ceasing to carry out a certain area of business.
It is vital for employers to be aware of the standard procedure for redundancy, and for employees to understand their rights.  This helps to make the process as easy and fair as possible for all concerned.
If you are an employer looking to make redundancies, it is your duty to identify an appropriate group of employees for selection, and consult with them.  The criteria you use to select which employees to make redundant should be fair and objective, without any kind of discrimination.  You must also notify the Secretary of State if more than 20 redundancies are taking place.
You should keep your staff informed about the proceedings, both during consultation meetings and in writing.  Discuss ways to avoid and reduce redundancies, and if possible, consider finding them suitable alternative positions.  Make sure you explain why the redundancies are taking place, and go through the package with them.
Your employees are entitled to paid notice, and usually to a redundancy payment.  If you don’t follow the necessary procedure, redundant employees may have grounds to claim unfair dismissal.  Redundancy can be extremely stressful for both employers and employees, and any support and communication you can give to your employees will be appreciated.
If you are an employee facing redundancy, you may be entitled to a statutory redundancy payment.  The amount you could be paid will be based on your age, pay rate, and length of service.  If your employer refuses or is unable to make this payment, you may also write to the Secretary of State for a redundancy payment out of the National Insurance Fund.  You will always have the right to contractual notice, and you could also be entitled to time off to look for work.
Furthermore, you have the right to appeal against your redundancy.  You might be able to challenge your termination as an unfair dismissal; for example, if it is based on age or pregnancy, if you have acted as a Trade Union representative, or asserted your right to the National Minimum Wage.
There are many situations in which your dismissal would automatically qualify as unfair, and it is important for you to know if you are eligible to make this claim.
What can we do for you? 
Here at Backhouse Solicitors, we have expert knowledge of redundancy procedures.  We have been providing specialist advice to both employers and employees for many years, so we really do understand both sides of the situation.
We appreciate the difficulties of redundancy both as a legal procedure, and as something very personal which has an impact on your career.  Whether you are an employer needing to make a redundancy or an employee facing one, our team of friendly and experienced professionals can help.
Whichever side of the redundancy procedure you are facing, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.  You can:
• call our office on 01245 893400
• or visit our Contact Backhouse page and fill in an enquiry form
We look forward to helping you,
The Backhouse Solicitors team.