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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 49778
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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Two weeks ago, I was told that I had no future in the company

Customer Question

Two weeks ago, I was told that I had no future in the company I work for, offered an compromise agreement and asked to clear my desk immediately. I was offered 3 days to "think about it" but my employer never told me that I should sick legal advice. I contacted a lawyer anyway who told me to refuse their compromise agreement as it wasn't enough. After my refusal , I was call at home for an other meeting and told that I was now facing redundancy. Can my employer dismiss me, ask me to leave my work immediately and not talk to any other member of staff but retract his "decision" when I refuse their compromise agreement and claim redundancy? Do I have a case for unfair dismissal ?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.
Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. can you tell me how long you have been with your employer please.

JACUSTOMER-9sasu5t1- :

3 years

Ben Jones :

ok thank you please leave this with me I have an early evening meting and will get back to you later this evening with my advice on how to procced with this.

JACUSTOMER-9sasu5t1- :

thank you

Ben Jones :

Apologies for the slight delay, I experienced some temporary connection issues earlier on. All seems to be resolved now so I can continue with my advice.

It does appear that the employer wants you out in any event and that redundancy may simply be used as cover to try and push you out when it may not necessarily be the actual reason for terminating your employment. The fact that they offered you a settlement agreement first and then raised redundancy as a potential option when you rejected it does look rather suspicious and it could give rise to a claim for unfair dismissal, especially if the redundancy cannot be justified legally.

It is still possible for the employer to legally pursue a redundancy but they must be able to justify that a redundancy actually existed and that they had followed a fair procedure. The issue for you is that the employer can offer you a settlement agreement at any time without any strings attached, in a sense that they cannot then be told that they were trying to offer this to you as a pretense to removing you when no fair reason existed. In fact you may not even be able to mention the offer if you were to claim unfair dismissal and would only be able to pursue such a claim if you can show that the eventual dismissal was unfair, ignoring the fact a settlement was offered to you previously.

Whether redundancy is going to be a fair reason for dismissal would depend on the circumstances. The term 'redundancy' is used to describe a situation in which an employer decides to reduce the number of its employees. There are various reasons as to why redundancies may be required, such as economic pressure, changes in the nature of products/services offered, internal reorganisation, workplace relocation, etc. The reason for the proposed redundancies will rarely be challenged and the employer will simply have to justify that the actual reason satisfied the statutory definition of a redundancy, which can be found in The Employment Rights Act 1996:

1. Business closure – where the whole of the employer’s business is closed

2. Workplace closure – closure or relocation of one or more sites

3. Reduced requirement for employees to carry out work of a particular kind (this is where many employees get confused as they believe a job has to actually disappear for them to be made redundant).

The third reason above creates the most challenges. Examples of when there is a reduced requirement to do work of a particular kind are:

  • The same amount of work remains but fewer employees are needed to do it. This includes consolidating some of its jobs (e.g. spreading out certain jobs amongst existing employees).

  • There is less work of a particular kind and fewer employees are needed to do it (both the work and the headcount shrink)

  • There is less work of a particular kind, but the same number of employees are required overall.

So as long as the employer can show that their situation fell within one of the accepted reasons for declaring a redundancy, the test will be satisfied and the focus then shifts on the remainder of the redundancy procedure. This would include what consultation took place, whether any suitable alternative employment was offered to those at risk and the general fairness of the redundancy procedure applied by the employer.

If the above conditions are not satisfied then you could consider the unfair dismissal option on the basis that redundancy did not exist or that a fair procedure was not followed.

Hope this clarifies your position? If you could please let me know that would be great, thank you

Ben Jones :

Hello, I see you have accessed and read my answer to your query. Please let me know if this has answered your original question or if you need me to clarify anything else for you in relation to this? I just need to know whether to close the question or not? Thanks