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Hello, my name is Ben and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.
Potentially they can do this, yes. Redundancy is used to describe a situation in which an employer decides to reduce the number of its employees, either within the business as a whole, or within a particular site or job role. There are various reasons as to why redundancies may be required, such as economic pressure, changes in the nature of products/services offered, internal reorganisations, relocation, etc. The reason for the proposed redundancies will rarely be challenged and the employer will simply have to justify that the actual reason conformed to the statutory definition of a redundancy.
The Employment Rights Act 1996 defines a redundancy situation as falling within one of the following circumstances:
Whilst the first two reasons are self-explanatory, it is the third reason that will be used most commonly and also the one that brings the most challenges.
You will see that the law simply requires the employer to show a need to reduce its employees. A subcontractor, an agency worker, a volunteer - these are not employees and technically the employer can reduce its employee workforce and then bring in non-employees to do the same work, perhaps because they will save the company money.
I hope this has answered your query and would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating - your question will not close and I can continue providing further advice if necessary. Thank you