Businesses of all sizes can find themselves in a continual state of evaluation and re-evaluation over strategy and staffing requirements in a constantly shifting economic landscape. This can make redundancy a real possibility for employees who previously would have felt a very high level of job security.

So what does redundancy mean, what might the consequences of redundancy mean for you and where can you find the advice you need to make sure you get the best outcome for you? Essentially, redundancy is a way in which you can be dismissed from your job and is used when employers need to reduce their workforce.

If you are selected for redundancy, the process of selection must be conducted in a fair and objective way, based on accepted and evidence-based methods. These can include; self-selection, when candidates volunteer for redundancy; disciplinary records and staff appraisal markings, skills, qualifications and experience.

In certain circumstances an employer can make staff redundant without having to follow a selection process if a job no longer exists. This might be when a company is closing down a whole operation, making all related staff redundant or you’re the only employee in a particular part of the organisation. Your employer may also offer you a different role if one is available.

Most critically, there are reasons that would be classed as unfair for selection for redundancy. For example, you cannot be selected for redundancy  on the grounds of your sexual orientation, race, disability, age,  because you made a flexible working application or refused to sign a working-time opt-out agreement or because of affiliation to a trade union, among a number of other reasons. If there is evidence that you have been selected for redundancy based on an unfair reason, you may be able to make a claim to an employment tribunal for unfair dismissal.

You are also entitled to a consultation with your employer if you’re being made redundant, during which they will be required to answer your questions around why you’re being made redundant and whether there are any alternatives to redundancy. There are rules around the consultation process which an employer must follow, so if they do not consult properly, this can again be referred to an employment tribunal.

If you are an employer that is looking to cut your workforce, getting the right legal advice at the outset can save you time and money. Equally, as an employee, knowing your rights and having the support of a legal expert can deliver the best possible outcome for you and ensure your employer fulfils their obligation to you as an employee.

For the very latest information and legal insight, speak to Ellisons’ Employment Solicitors at our offices in Chelmsford, Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds or Colchester.