Whilst the medical professionals of the world focus on bringing the “R” (or reproduction number) down, there’s another looming “r” that many people worldwide are coming to terms with as a direct impact of the COVID-19 pandemic: redundancy.
Unfortunately, no one seems to be safe right now. British Airways, Rolls Royce, and HSBC are all companies on the list of those who have had to make significant cuts to their staff numbers and it’s not just the big corporations that have had to rethink costs.
As a Recruiter, I’m speaking to people daily who have been affected by redundancy and I find myself faced with a lot of the same questions.
Of course, most people I speak to want to know about the state of the market and if I’m likely to have an opportunity for them. Specialising in HR means that I’ve had the unfortunate displeasure of seeing how staffing cuts have directly impacted HR teams in particular. It’s clearly a difficult time, but I am starting to question how some businesses will cope without the support required for their staff during these hard times. This is HR’s job after all.
The second most popular question(s) I seem to be answering are around people’s rights during and following redundancy. So, I’ve decided to put together a brief summary for those in my network who have found themselves in the fog that follows the (other) dreaded “r”.
1. You have not been sacked
Being made redundant means that your employer has closed your job and your contract is being terminated as a result of this; it does not mean you have been fired. Because the job you were in no longer exists, you have legal rights that an employer must abide by. These are rights that you would not have if you had been let go for performance related reasons.
2. You cannot be selected for unfair reasons
Your employer can take into consideration certain things when deciding which roles - and therefore who -they make redundant. This can include your tenure (how long you’ve been with the company) and whether someone has been involved in any disciplinary action at the company. An employer cannot select you for redundancy based on any one of the protected characteristics, which are:
Marriage and civil partnership
Pregnancy and maternity
Religion or belief
An employer can also not select you for redundancy on the basis that you have been a whistle-blower, you have asked for holiday, or you are a member of a trade union.
3. You cannot be made redundant with immediate effect
The amount of notice you are entitled to will depend on how long you have been with the company. This means, as a minimum:
At least one week if you have been employed between 1 month and 2 years
One weeks’ notice for each year you have worked between 2 years’ service and 12 years’ service
12 weeks’ notice for any length of service over 12 years
4. You are entitled to a consultant/consultation period
Anyone who is being made redundant is entitled to a consultation with their employer, regardless of how long they have been employed. A consultation is when the employer speaks with employees and their representatives about the planned cuts and gets their input and feedback before any final decisions are made. The length of the consultation period is dictated by how many jobs are being made redundant and the scales are as follows:
1-19 employees: no minimum period
20-99 employees: 30 days’ minimum consultation period
100+ employees: 45 days’ minimum consultation period
5. You have a right to redundancy pay above 2 years’ service
Whilst anyone being made redundant is entitled to their notice payment, only those with more than two years’ service are legally entitled to any kind of additional redundancy pay. The following are statutory minimum amounts and are determined by your age, length of service and salary:
Under 22 years of age: half a week's pay for each full year worked
Aged between 22 and 41: One week’s pay for each full year worked
Aged 41 or above: One and a half week's pay for each full year worked
6. You are entitled to your holiday pay
Any holiday that you have not taken by the time you leave your employer should be paid to you in your last pay packet.
7. You are allowed paid time off to find another job
Your employer is legally obliged to give you paid time off to look for another job if you have over 2 years’ service with them. In total, you are entitled to 40% off your working week (2 days if you work full time) to attend interviews and you will still be paid for it. Any time off over that your employer isn’t legally obliged to pay you for, but they may choose to do so as a gesture of good will.
8. Being furloughed does not affect your rights
If you are made redundant after being furloughed for a period of time, all of your rights still apply.
9. Volunteering doesn’t guarantee redundancy
Some businesses may ask their employees to volunteer for redundancy when making cuts; often this is so that the process is fair and left in the hands of the employees. Employers will consider those who put their hands up but they have no legal obligation to select those who volunteer.
10.You may be entitled to funding to re-train
Being made redundant can often bring with it financial difficulties, but it can also be seen as a time to reflect, regroup and refocus on what you would like to do next. For some, this can mean changing direction completely and there are lots of options for funding your desired career change if this is something that applies to you. You can find out more about this on the Money Advice Service website.
I understand that this is a difficult time for many in my network – both clients and candidates - and redundancy can often feel very personal, when really it is anything but. I am speaking to HR professionals on a daily basis and the truth is that redundancy is hard from both sides of the fence. Those who have been made redundant can feel lost and uncertain of what’s to come, and those who have been fortunate enough to keep their jobs are left wondering if they may be next. I also feel for those who are responsible for making the decisions surrounding redundancies, and especially for those Human Resources contacts in a business who are responsible for executing the process.
If you’re unfortunate enough to have found yourself in this situation, then please get in touch with us here at The ONE Group. We have offices covering recruitment across various sectors (HR, Finance, IT, Marketing, Office and Technical/Engineering) in Cambridge, Peterborough and Northampton, and we’re working harder than ever to ensure that we get as many of our candidates back into work as soon as possible.
Each of our Consultants focuses solely on one particular remit, so you’ll be sure to be speaking to someone who understands what you do. This also applies to anyone who may be hiring at present: please get in touch with us to find out how we can help you recruit the best people for your post-COVID workforce.