Furlough & maternity leave | Redundancy questions HR might get asked

Redundancy questions HR might get asked

Since the coronavirus pandemic hit the UK, the jobs market has been crushed with sectors such as aviation and retail all facing mass job losses.

This has resulted in the UK entering is largest recession on record, which will likely see unemployment increase further by the end of the year once the UK Government’s furlough scheme comes to an end in October.

In fact, recent research from the CIPD revealed that around one-third of all UK-based employers are now expected to shed staff by October 2020.

Throughout the coronavirus crisis, many workers have faced the news that they are being made redundant due to the impact the pandemic has had on business.

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Therefore, it’s important for employees to be aware of the rights they have if they are set to be made redundant.

In particular, many will be concerned about whether they will receive redundancy pay. According to Metro, if you have worked with your employer for two years or more you will normally be entitled to statutory redundancy pay.

Usually an employer will have a redundancy policy in place that explains this in more detail, so it will be worth reading through this thoroughly if redundancy does take place.

However, the legal minimum amount a worker will be entitled to depends on a worker’s age, length of service and weekly salary. According to the Government’s site, the length of service is capped at 20 years, and employees will be entitled to:

  • Half a week’s pay for each full year you were under 22.

  • One week’s pay for each full year you were 22 or older, but under 41.

  • One and half week’s pay for each full year you were 41 or older.

While on furlough

Throughout this period of time, employees across the UK have been put on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), more commonly known as furlough, as businesses try to remain afloat amid this uncertain time, but can an employee be made redundant while on the support scheme?

According to Citizens Advice, this is a possibility and a decision an employer can choose to make. If this is the case, an employer has to follow the right processes and ensure they do not discriminate against their staff.

It’s important to note that employees may be entitled to:

  • Pay during your notice period - you can check how much notice pay you should get.

  • Pay for holiday time you haven’t taken - you can check how much holiday pay you should get.

  • Extra money for your redundancy - you can check how much redundancy pay you can get.

Recent research from the ONS found that 730,000 workers have fallen from company payrolls since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in March.

Maternity leave

Employees can also be made redundant while on maternity leave, but employers must ensure the decision is made with a legitimate reason and not due to the employee being on leave because they are pregnant.

If an employee believes they have been made redundant by their employer in a bid to avoid paying Statutory Maternity Payments (SMP), workers may be able to claim for the payments directly from HMRC.

Sick leave

During this time, employees may be fearful to take time off sick as employers can still make them redundant while on leave. However, once again this decision can only be done on fair grounds.

Redundancy legalities

Kelly Feehan, Service Director at wellbeing charity CABA, recently shared with HR Grapevine, that there are several legalities employers and HR should be aware of, if they are choose to go down the redundancy path.

“Managing redundancies is not an easy process and is stressful for everyone involved. This is made worse by the current circumstances which often mean that discussions need to take place via telephone or video call. Unfortunately, in some cases it will be unavoidable,” she explained.

“If your business is having to make some of its employees redundant, there are several legalities you need to observe. Failure to do so could give rise to claims for unfair dismissal.”

The redundancy process should generally include:

  • Identifying a reasonable ‘pool for selection’, i.e. the group of employees from which the employees selected for redundancy will be chosen.

  • Adopting objective and non-discriminatory selection criteria where the pool involves two or more employees and applying them fairly to those within this pool.

  • Warning and consulting employees about the potential redundancy situation via a meaningful two-way conversation.

  • Seeking a view from the union (if there is one).

  • Informing and consulting employee representatives in cases of collective redundancy.

  • Considering alternative employment or training for future employment for those employees whose roles are redundant.

  • Giving reasonable paid time off to look for work.

  • Calculation of redundancy pay.

  • Accrued but untaken holiday pay.

  • Right to appeal any decision to dismiss.

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