Facing Redundancy? - know your rights
Posted in 'Credit Crunch' by Barry Stamp
10 November 2011
Few of us remain unaffected by the current downturn in the economy, and if the pundits are to be believed, the Eurozone crisis will impact even further on UK jobs.
Most of us know of a family member or friend who has been made redundant or is facing losing their job.
Employment law is reassuringly tough on employers looking to make staff redundant, and this is backed by several good practice guidelines, but not every employer follows these closely enough. This can have very severe consequences for them, but on the other hand, can bring unexpected benefits to those unlucky enough to lose their jobs.
Redundancy pay is painfully small. It may well be tax free for payments up to £30,000, but in reality payments are rarely in that stratosphere, they are a lot less, and the exact amount you are legally entitled to receive depends on how old you are. The current statutory redundancy payment is a mere half of one week’s pay for each full year of service if you are under 22, one week’s pay for each full year of service if you are between 22 and 40, and one and a half week’s pay for each full year if you are 41 or over. You can calculate how much you are entitled to using this government website.
Here are a few things that employers often forget:
- To be able to make staff redundant, your job should no longer exist after your exit. Employers can’t hide behind redundancy as an excuse to reorganise the staff and make a selection of staff redundant if the jobs don’t actually disappear.
- Your employer should consult with you before making you redundant. If more than 20 redundancies are planned, they must also consult representatives of affected staff. The minimum consultation period is 30 days, and some argue that this should be 90 days in current employment market conditions.
- Employers must say when the redundancies will take place and explain to you why redundancies are proposed. This must be done early enough for alternative plans to be put forward (e.g. redeployment or retraining).
- Your employer must consider any alternative actions before making you redundant and you should be actively encouraged to consider any vacancies existing within your employer. You and your colleagues might suggest, for example, that you all move to a 4 day week, or less, and your employer is bound to seriously consider this, and indeed any other options proposed within the consultation period.
If an employer fails to follow the protocols, you may be able to claim unfair dismissal, which in current market conditions could result in your employer automatically having to pay your salary in full until you get a new job. Take legal advice, go to ACAS, or chat with your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau if you think you may have been/are being dismissed unfairly.
It’s hard to think straight when you are issued with news of an impending redundancy, but here are some tips of what you can start to do:
- Check the job market out early and apply for any jobs that take your fancy, even before you know for sure that you will be made redundant.
- Ask yourself if you want to take the opportunity to change direction in life – if voluntary redundancy payments are offered, this may help you decide.
- Change all existing credit card direct debits to minimum payments immediately.
- Go through your bank statement and cancel any expenditure that you don’t actually need.
- See if your mortgage allows you a repayment holiday and if it does, think about when this would be best needed.
- If you have purchased Payment Protection Insurance, now is the time to test out whether it will pay out properly. Be wary of ‘wait periods’ – some policies don’t cut in until you have been out of work for a month or three. If you don’t make the payments during the wait period, you could end up with a bad credit report.
- Monitor your credit report to make sure your credit standing remains reasonably good. By far the best value for value monthly credit report monitoring service is our Multi Agency Credit Report subscription at only £9.99 per month – you can trial this for 30 days for free, and cancel anytime.
- If you have any subscriptions that you don’t want to lose (e.g. Sky TV), talk to the company concerned, tell them you are being made redundant and ask what support they can give. Sometimes you will be able to reduce your monthly payments this way.
- If you’ve booked a holiday and are thinking of cancelling it, check out your travel insurance to see how you are covered, and also check the travel company’s terms to see if any deposits are refundable.
- Change your PINs if any of your current work colleagues happen to know them for any reason.
- Update your CV. Consider uploading it to a website such as Monster in order to reach as many potential employers as possible.
- Remember that your employer is compelled to give you reasonable time off to go to job interviews in the consultation/notice periods.
- Switch your mobile to a SIM only deal and save serious money without losing your phone number. This Vodafone deal is the best we’ve seen on offer.
- Switch your utilities to the cheapest provider. Find the cheapest here.
- Go through your credit cards – if you have stubborn debt to shift, use our free credit finding service to switch to cheaper cards that will allow you 0% on balance transfers to bring your interest costs right down. The
Barry is a Chartered Banker and a Fellow of the Institute of Credit Management. He has a degree in Statistics and Business Economics from the Open University. Barry writes mostly on news from the worlds of banking and mortgages.
Barry is a co-founder of checkmyfile.
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