LIFE BITE: Redundancy – What next for Thomas Cook employees?

apple-150579_1280The devastating news of the closure of Thomas Cook has dominated the headlines this week and all of us feel deeply saddened for affected staff members and holiday makers alike, many of whom are still stranded with questions remaining about what, if any, redress could be available to them.

 

Employees with two or more years of service are entitled to statutory redundancy pay.  In situations where the employer is insolvent, payments may be made from the National Insurance Fund. Free guidance and an online calculator are available on government websites.

A recent tribunal decision in England Harper and Others v BJS Yorkshire Limited, 26 employees brought a claim against their former employer, a freight company, after the company had gone into voluntary liquidation without any notice to employees or any period of consultation. These employees were ultimately awarded a £100,000.00 having complained about being “being kept in the dark” about the future of their employment. While no two cases are the same, it is reassuring to see how the law can assist those who find themselves out of work through no fault of their own.

It is important to be aware that time frames are strict for employment law claims and therefore advice should be sought as soon as possible.

For further information relating to redundancy or for any other employment law issue, feel free to contact us here on using the form below

Redundancy: What An Employer Needs To Know

 

redundancy1Downsizing your business and considering redundancies is a prospect you many employers throughout the life of a business may have to face at one time or another.

This is a grim prospect for you as a business owner but more particularly for your affected employees.

It is therefore vital that you as an employer handle this process fairly and in a manner that protects you from any potential unfair dismissal claims made by your employees.

What do I need to look at when considering redundancies?

When handling redundancies, you will be deemed to be acting fairly both morally and legally if you treat the matter with ‘RESPECT’, that is;-

R = Redundancy

You must be able to show that a genuine redundancy situation exists in your business

E = Employees

You should ensure that your employees are fully consulted about the redundancy situation.

S = Selection

You must use objective and verifiable criteria when you are considering which roles are to be made redundant

P = Procedure

You should follow the 3 step dismissal procedure:-

  1. Inform the employee in writing of the circumstances which are leading to you considering redundancies, invite them to a meeting to discuss the matter and warn them that a possible outcome is dismissal.
  2. Hold a meeting with the employee to discuss the proposed redundancies. An outcome of the meeting must be provided and your employee must be informed of their right of appeal.
  3. If your employee chooses to exercise the right of appeal, an appeal hearing must be held and a final decision provided
E = Employment

You should consider whether there are any alternative job roles that could be filled by those being made redundant in order to avoid the redundancy.

C = Calculation

You need to ensure that the correct redundancy payment is calculated

T = Termination

You must ensure that a letter is sent to the employee confirming the end of their employment

The underlying legal principle when considering redundancies is that of reasonableness – i.e. have you as an employer behaved reasonably in all of the circumstances towards your employee when handling their redundancy?

Before embarking on this process, it is important to obtain specialist advice from an employment lawyer ton how best to handle the process. This will ensure that it is handled objectively and not contaminated with emotion which could end up costing you dearly.

For more information on this area, please contact us here or via email on info@fhanna.co.uk 

 

 

LIFE BITE: Tribunal orders compensation to 143 ex Ulster University staff after “very serious failure” to consult over Redundancies

apple-150579_1280The University and College Union has won a case against the University of Ulster over its failure to consult on redundancies, securing the maximum award for staff involved. 

 

The case was taken by University College Union when 143 members of teaching and other staff lost their jobs in April 2016, after the University suffered a substantial reduction in DEL funding. Some of the University faculties were closed at the time and undergraduate numbers were reduced.

The Tribunal held that large scale redundancies were inevitable by June 2015 and that discussions ought to have begun with the Union much earlier than they did.  The University had failed in its obligations, both under statute and its own redundancy policy.  They found that the process was a “fait accompli” with no opportunity for input by the Trade Union who were “actively mislead” and “ostracised” by the University management.   The Union were provided with insufficient time and information to meaningfully engage with counter proposals. Effectively, the Tribunal said, the University “put a gun” to the heads of the affected employees.

The University’s failures, the Tribunal said, meant that some staff were treated very poorly which was a “deeply unsatisfactory consequence”. The Tribunal found that  failures were deliberate and there was an intention to keep the Union out of the process.

The case looked at the law on the duty to consult about redundancies and whether this had been complied with.  It considered whether these redundancies amounted to dismissals, which it found they had.  Consideration was also given to what protective award should be made to which staff and for what period. The Tribunal made the maximum award of compensation finding that the University failed egregiously in its duties.

Francis Hanna & Co Solicitors acted for the University College Union in this very significant case, with Counsel Tom Brown, from Cloisters.

Martin Hanna, Partner, Francis Hanna & Co, said:

“We are delighted with this result which has significant ramifications not only for the Trade Union and staff involved but also for the university and other employers, employees and unions involved in redundancies. The decision provides important guidance for employers on the duty to consult with Trade Unions and the timeliness and sufficiency of that consultation. Further it serves as an important reminder of the effect of an employer failing to adhere to its legal obligations.”

Should you require any further information on any aspect of Employment law or redundancy, please feel free to contact us here.

Redundancy: What An Employer Needs To Know

GDaly

Gerry Daly is the Employment Law Partner in Francis Hanna & Co Solicitors with almost 40 years experience in this field.
In his guest blog for Life Law NI, he has set out some of the factors that employers need to consider when dealing with possible redundancies within their business
As many of you already know and others are unfortunately going to find out in the current economic climate, downsizing your business and considering redundancies is a prospect you may have to face.
This is a grim prospect for you as a business owner but more particularly for your affected employees.
It is therefore vital that you as an employer handle this process fairly and in a manner that protects you from any potential unfair dismissal claims made by your employees.

What do I need to look at when considering redundancies?

When handling redundancies, you will be deemed to be acting fairly both morally and legally if you treat the matter with ‘RESPECT’, that is;-

R = Redundancy

You must be able to show that a genuine redundancy situation exists in your business

E = Employees

You should ensure that your employees are fully consulted about the redundancy situation.

S = Selection

You must use objective and verifiable criteria when you are considering which roles are to be made redundant

P = Procedure

You should follow the 3 step dismissal procedure:-

  1. Inform the employee in writing of the circumstances which are leading to you considering redundancies, invite them to a meeting to discuss the matter and warn them that a possible outcome is dismissal.
  2. Hold a meeting with the employee to discuss the proposed redundancies. An outcome of the meeting must be provided and your employee must be informed of their right of appeal.
  3. If your employee chooses to exercise the right of appeal, an appeal hearing must be held and a final decision provided
E = Employment

You should consider whether there are any alternative job roles that could be filled by those being made redundant in order to avoid the redundancy.

C = Calculation

You need to ensure that the correct redundancy payment is calculated

T = Termination

You must ensure that a letter is sent to the employee confirming the end of their employment

The underlying legal principle when considering redundancies is that of reasonableness – i.e. have you as an employer behaved reasonably in all of the circumstances towards your employee when handling their redundancy?

Before embarking on this process you should ask yourself whether you need independent legal advice.
My recommendation is that you should instruct an employment lawyer to handle the process. This will ensure that it is handled objectively and not contaminated with emotion which could end up costing you dearly.

Gerry Daly

Francis Hanna & Co Solicitors

If you wish to contact Gerry for more information on this area, please contact him at gdaly@fhanna.co.uk or alternatively let us have your comments below.