Sometimes an employer has no alternative than to enter a redundancy process with some or all of their workforce. Whilst it is called a redundancy process, it is important to note that redundancy is normally a last resort. The purpose of the process is to look at ways of avoiding making redundancies, or at least avoiding compulsory redundancies (where the employer terminates the employee’s employment, and the employee receives their notice period and redundancy payment, where eligible).
The first that employees are likely to know about redundancy is when the employer begins to consult with the affected workforce – i.e. starts talking to them about the process and the implications. There are a number of outcomes possible – compulsory redundancy, voluntary redundancy, redeployment to a different base, or a different role at the same base. There is not one outcome that will apply to everyone, and we will always advise our members on an individual basis. This will involve considering ideally what they would like the outcome to be, and if that cannot be achieved, what the realistic alternatives are.
Where the company has a recognised trade union, we would expect to be involved at an early stage.
There are requirements that the company must comply with which fall outside the scope of this piece, but that we could consider when contacted by a member who has been advised they are at risk of redundancy. In many cases, not all the workforce will be at risk of losing their job, but they should be included in the discussions also.
Employees should be invited to an individual consultation meeting at which it is explained why the company needs to make changes, which roles are at risk, and how many of those roles, what the selection criteria will be (usually a matrix agreed with the union or employee representatives), the timescale, and entitlement to redundancy pay. If you have not been employed for two years, there is no entitlement to a redundancy payment.
As an employee, you may be asked if you have any suggestions as to how the need to make redundancies might be reduced. Alternatively, at an early stage in the process you may be asked if you would be prepared to consider voluntary redundancy. This can, at first glance, seem an attractive offer, as enhanced redundancy will be paid. However, in considering whether to accept this, it has to be understood that this means you will lose your job, and you will be looking for new employment at the same time as potentially a number of others who may be equally, or more qualified than you for roles. We would advise against being swayed purely by the figure offered. If you accept voluntary redundancy, an agreement will be drawn up to reflect this, and this will take you out of the redundancy process.
If a base is closing, or reducing employee numbers at the base, pilots may be asked to bid for alternative bases on the airline’s network. If you do not comply with this, you may be redeployed to a base not of your choosing, or you may face compulsory redundancy if voluntary redundancy is not offered. It is important that all concerned cooperate with the process.
One of the issues we frequently discuss with members facing possible redundancy is mobility. Most contracts of employment will contain a mobility clause which, if reasonably drafted will likely be enforceable. This means that if you decline a reasonable base change, you may not be considered redundant and not entitled to redundancy pay. This is why it is essential that every member facing redundancy at an airline is treated as an individual by us, so that we can ascertain what the possible outcomes may be for each of our members.
After an initial meeting, you will likely be invited to a further meeting to discuss the progress of the redundancy process. After the first individual consultation, a decision will be made as to who will be made redundant. This information should be delivered face to face, and then employees be given a chance to appeal the decision.
It is important to remember that a redundancy process is constantly changing and evolving. For example, someone that the employer thought was staying might hand in their notice, which makes a space for someone else.
Employees being made redundant should be told this in writing (after a meeting), along with details of their notice period, the calculation of redundancy pay and all other payments that will be due on termination of employment, how and when this will be paid, and the opportunity to appeal the decision.
Unfortunately, we have come across situations where employers have used the guise of redundancy as a mechanism to dismiss employees when it is not a true redundancy situation. Conversely, we have had members who wish to leave their employer ask to be made redundant so as to avail themselves of the redundancy payment they would only be entitled to were it a true redundancy situation. Both situations require expert advice from your union. Making someone redundant when they are not may expose an employer to claims in an employment tribunal and seeking money from an employer you are not entitled to may put employees out of favour with their employer, even if they are leaving.
If you think that your employer might be making redundancies, or you have been told that your employer is going through a redundancy process there are a number of key points to consider:
- Where employee reps are nominated, are they acting in the best interest of all those they should be representing?
- Make sure that your views and opinions are heard. If not at a collective level, make sure you use your individual consultation(s) to be clear with your employer about your own position and what you would like to achieve.
- Take advice at an early stage from your union. The risk of redundancy can be stressful, and we can guide you through it, offering advice, support and representation as necessary.
- If you are asked to complete any documentation by a certain deadline, ensure you do so (unless the request is unreasonable). This might relate to employee rep nominations or confirming attendance at a meeting.
- Do not sign any paperwork that will impact on your own position until you have taken advice (for example an offer of voluntary redundancy, or an alternative position).
Finally, although employers sometimes go through this process, we have known situations whereby at the end of the process, no compulsory redundancies have been necessary. Whilst this cannot be guaranteed in every case, it does illustrate the constantly changing nature of the process
Please contact the office if you need advice regarding possible redundancy on 01444 441149 or firstname.lastname@example.org