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Telephone: 0131 336 1619

Free EnquiryRedundancy Solicitor Scotland

Redundancy - what are your rights?

In a time of continuing economic uncertainty, redundancy has become a part of everyday life for many people across Scotland. Order books are empty and every firm is battling to stay solvent in a difficult and highly competitive marketplace. So if you're facing redundancy, or are concerned that your job could be at risk, what can you do?

Know the law

A company can only begin thinking about redundancies if there are valid reasons. An employer cannot dismiss a worker under redundancy law in Scotland or anywhere else purely because they want a younger worker, for example. Common procedures for deciding on redundancies include the 'last in, first out' policy, where those with the longest service records have the most secure jobs. But even this is not a guarantee that you will not be made redundant, particularly if the firm you work for is suffering a fallback on orders or work. If there is not enough work to justify your position, you may face redundancy, regardless of the length of time you have served with the company.

Employers may also ask for volunteers, particularly amongst those who are close to retirement age, or base their decisions on disciplinary records. Regardless of the process used, the decision must be fair, justified and reasonable. The employer has to show that they went through a process where they considered the possible candidates and selected those on objectively fair reasons. This also requires them to look at alternative employment, but this may be difficult for an employer to do if your job involves specific, non-transferable skills.

Redundancy entitlement

If all else fails and redundancy is inevitable, your employer must give you fair warning of your impending redundancy. Depending on how long you have worked for the company, you may also be entitled to a redundancy payment.

Redundancy pay is an employee's right if they have worked for an employer for a minimum of two years without a break in employment. This legislation is universally implemented across the United Kingdom and applies to Scotland as well. It also applies to cases where a fixed contract lasts for at least two years and fails to be renewed due to redundancy measures taken by your employer. The amount of redundancy pay you receive will depend on a number of factors including the length of time you have been employed, the weekly wage you receive and your age. At this stage, it is advisable to check your employment contract very carefully and if you are unsure, consult with a professional independent advisor such as the Citizenís Advice Bureau or an employment law expert.

If you have agreed to take redundancy your employer will ask you to sign a Compromise Agreement. You must be given legal advice for the agreement to be valid. Your employers will usually pay the legal costs involved in taking advice. You have three months from the date of dismissal to apply and should not wait for the appeal date as that may delay things. It is suggested you seek the advice of a lawyer who does this type of work as soon as possible to ensure that you do not lose any rights to redundancy pay as a result.

Redundancy is a blow for any worker, but if you are facing the inevitable and feel that you have been unfairly selected for redundancy, it is imperative that you talk to an expert as quickly as possible. If you can show that an employer's reasons for selecting you are unfair, then you may have the right to appeal the decision at an Employment Tribunal. No matter what happens, by knowing your rights you have a better chance at a fair deal.

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