View Full Version : Employment Law help needed

29th Jan 2009, 11:33
A friend was credit-crunched last friday and made redundant in their place of work. They were given a months paid notice and will be given 6 months pay to **** off quietly... However they are amongst other emotions, angry that they were laid off when other work colleagues had a worse performance than themselves.

It has transpired that 2 other people were 'let go' within the company in the last days. The strange thing is, is that all 3 persons have young children. I was asked for my opinion regarding my friend and am more inclined to say "take the money", as they will (hopefully) have subsequent full time employment in the next 2 months.

I know that employers cannot discriminate against various life situations and persons, but it does seem as though the employer has chosen to discriminate here. I am assuming that there were no other reasons for all 3 to be chopped such as lateness/theft/misconduct. The statistical chance of the 3 being sub-standard (and having a family) must be pretty rare.

Does the panel feel that it would be worth pursuing unfair dismissal with an employment lawyer or not ? No one needs to be bogged down in legal matters unecessarily, but if you have the law on your side it would be a crime not to :hmm:

I imagine that they will be getting advice from a professional, but the great and the good here might have personal experience that could help.



Scumbag O'Riley
29th Jan 2009, 11:46
The strange thing is, is that all 3 persons have young children.What's strange about that? I know several people with young children, in fact I would go as far to say that most people I know have had young children. It's the ones who haven't had young children that are strange.

I'd recommend everybody take out the legal cover option on their house insurance. Costs bugger all, covers employment issues, and in these days might be money well spent as employment lawyers are very expensive.

So they got a six/seven months payoff? How much more do you think a Tribunal would give them? Even if you demonstrated the employer had acted unfairly? If they have a job in two months then they have essentially mitigated the original employer's losses quite nicely.

Squeegee Longtail
29th Jan 2009, 11:55
Er, am I missing something? I would disciminate against those WITHOUT a family, if anything. Those with young families will tend to be more loyal as they need the security & stability. Single people f*ck off to better opportunities much quicker.
In my business I try to get stable, family orientated people.

6 months salary seems fair though, especially they stand a good chance of re-employment.

29th Jan 2009, 13:59

If a company wishes to make staff redundant they must be very careful to do so in a fair manner.

The company must have a clear selection criteria (most companies use last in-first out) and they must look to see if there are opportunities to redeploy the employee to another post within the company.

Selection on arbitrary criteria such as age, gender, family or even poor past performance is dismissal and must be proved to be fair.

Your friend would be well advised to question what selection criteria was used and to ensure that, if it was fair, it was applied consistently.


29th Jan 2009, 14:04
Perhaps I wasn't clear enough (now there's a first :rolleyes:). Within this company everyone apart from these 3 don't have children! Amazingly a few have cats and one a dog, but that's it apparently. There are a few partners of firm with children, but they are untouchable and of course they probably own the company!

All the non-partners are go-getting career girls and boys with no ties. They are mostly younger and according to friend prone to spending time Facebooking and YouTubing and private calling instead of being as conscientious as friend in general, yet they weren't touched. Apparently the firm has to downsize and was looking for candidates. Perhaps the firm feels that the singles will not be off work due to maternity/illness/whatever with kids and those with will tendencially be more so ? There were no issues with unpopularity with friend (the other 2 no idea) or 'issues' of other kinds.

If it were my company I would be happy for married with kids workers and older persons as has been said they are more reliable/settled/mature in general.

As has also been said, if another job is secured, then hoorah for them! However the economy is contracting rapidly and the types and quality of jobs that were available a year ago are no longer there in general. Perhaps that is a factor in having the many months redundancy offer ?



29th Jan 2009, 14:17
Country? Number of employees? Length of service?

She needs to seek professional legal advice. Many solicitors will give 15-20 minutes free. Best to find an employment lawyer, not your average wills/divorce/conveyancing type.

29th Jan 2009, 14:17
Are you 'talking' UK?
There are different rules that apply in Europe or the US.
If UK, approach ACAS.
Acas - Redundancy (http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=1611)

29th Jan 2009, 14:18

Your original post refers to being “made redundant”. I say again – companies MUST have a clear and open policy on selection for dismissal due to redundancy and, if they fail to implement it, then it is unfair dismissal.

Redundancy is a form of dismissal and must, in itself, be fair.

A clear and open redundancy policy may, indeed, be to select those staff who have children. It would be VERY unusual (and in my view unfair) but provided that it is documented and it is applied without discrimination, then it could well be argued that it is valid.


Kelly Hopper
29th Jan 2009, 14:55
I am very confused now. You seem to contradict yourself more than once.
Are these 3 with or without children? Just so I get that.

On the face of it UK employment law says that redundancy payments must equal 1 weeks pay for every year's service, so you do the calculation.

Additionally unfair dismissal claims with be met with "what is your loss?"

6 months pay, ie; 15-20k would most probably be more than any employment tribunal would award!

29th Jan 2009, 14:56
Thanks for the replies gents.

Country? Number of employees? Length of service?

UK, not sure (less than 100),2+yrs

As it's not me, I can't answer some of the questions. It would indeed be interesting to know what the firms selection for dismissal really is. I would imagine that the firm's legal advisors/team would have worked things out to the firm's benefit beforehand. I'll phone them this evening and see if there's been any progress.



29th Jan 2009, 15:05
Just for you Kelly :)

Within this company everyone apart from these 3 don't have children

The 3 made redundant were the only ones with children, all others without children :ok:

On the face of it UK employment law says that redundancy payments must equal 1 weeks pay for every year's service, so you do the calculation

Wow, that's nothing! That is shocking... I would have imagined that it would have been a month's pay at least. I would imagine that there's going to be a lot of people getting this shock in the near future. Hope they have some savings.



The Real Slim Shady
29th Jan 2009, 15:13
If they have been given 6 months salary as a sweetener taking the company to Tribunal in the UK would be nugatory.

Firstly, they would have to bear their own costs: costs could even be awarded against them if they lose if the Tribunal believe the claim was vexatious.

If they won then the maximum award would have to be considered, and the Tribunal would probably offset the 6 month sweetener against the award hence once costs have been paid they would still probably be worse off.

And to cap it all it would probably take 12 to 18 months to finalise.

barry lloyd
29th Jan 2009, 16:08
The best advice offered so far is that by G-CPTN.

I too was given six months' salary, but my grievance was over the way those being made redundant were chosen, and this is what the tribunal will look at if, in the opinion of the experts, there is a case.

There is no need to go running to lawyers. A system (The Employment Tribunal) exists for this purpose, and is completely free. Suggest that they talk to the CAB or ACAS, (both of which offer free and impartial advice and have people who are specialists in employment law). Tell them to take copies of all relevant info and notes to the meeting, and they in turn will tell you whether it is worth pursuing. Whether they then decide to employ a lawyer is entirely up to them, but it is not necessary. Remember that it's a tribunal, not a court. All you do is produce factual evidence. There is no cross-questioning, or other such dramas.

A word of caution however. I took a previous employer to the Tribunal some years ago, and was awarded £56k. The employer then put big legal guns onto the case, and the award was overturned on appeal.

Feel free to PM me if you need further info.

Scumbag O'Riley
29th Jan 2009, 16:19
There is indeed cross examination.

Appeals are purely decided on points of law. If a lawyer had been involved from the start the appeal might not have been successful, or the case might never have gone that far in the first place.

If you hire a lawyer and win you are very unlikely to get the other side to pay your costs, they will come out of your award. That's why everybody in the private sector who has a job right now might be well advised to spend a few quid and get legal cover on your house insurance.

Given the known facts I'd take the six months pay off, look for another job and save all the bother of dealing with the legal system and the stress of wondering whether your prospective employer will find out you took somebody to a Tribunal in the past.

Because if I got a sniff of it you wouldn't be getting a job off me!

barry lloyd
29th Jan 2009, 16:52
There is indeed cross examination

There was none in my case, at least not in the conventional sense, with barristers clutching at their gowns and calling the judge m'lud - simply an examination of the facts, as put forward by both sides, which is what a tribunal is tasked to do. The employer was represented by a paralegal, i.e., a member of a confederate body.
I was informed that if I won, no costs would be awarded to the other side.
There are many cases, as has been proved, where the employee has a legitimate case against the employer, which is why such tribunals exist. If the employer behaves in a correct manner, they have nothing to fear, irrespective of whether the prospective employee has attended a tribunal or not. Failing to employ someone because they have attended a tribunal is of course, discrimination!

29th Jan 2009, 17:20
...6 months pay = 24 weeks.

Statutory is usually 2 x Weeks per year service. This is the equilivant of working 12 years. If only 2 years in job....looks very generous to me. Hard to call being hard done here.

Another important point is .....Has her Job been re-advertised??? Then that could be a case for her.

Has her Job been split up among other employees???? Then - thats 're-organisation' and that's a company;s perogrative to do so and they have no obligation to 'find' a job internally for her.

Say again s l o w l y
29th Jan 2009, 17:38
There must have been a consultation and most companies will draw up a matrix of employees and the things they are looking for.

Often you'll have a set of skills you need and you'll mark people out of say 10. Whoever has the lowest score goes.

You are entitled to ask why you are being made redundant, but they may well be making the job redundant rather than the person. Though basically it means the same thing.

Employers are obliged to notify their workforce as soon as they are contemplating redundancy. This is to stop them planning redundancies in secret and then springing them on their employees. Your employer is then obliged to consult you. This consultation is with a view to reaching agreement. Basically they can't just say 'I'm sorry but you are redundant and you leave a month on Friday. He must say 'I am proposing your position for redundancy and I want to consult you about it.'

This consultation must involve seriously listening to your ideas about how the redundancy could be avoided. You might offer to take a lower salary, for instance - or to work part time in order to save your job. Then there's the issue of selection. Why did they choose you? If there are others in the organisation doing similar work, there should be a fair method of selection. You have a right to know what it is and to be consulted about it. Have they carefully looked to see if there is alternative work, which you could do? It is very hard for an employer to justify redundancy in one department if there are similar vacancies elsewhere in the organisation. You'd be surprised how often managers try to use redundancy to get rid of employees they don't rate.

This consultation is not only with individuals. If 20 or more are being made redundant, there has to be collective consultation as well. This will be with the union if one is recognised. If not, then the employer has to organise elections to a consultative committee.

Then there's the question of compensation - you are entitled to statutory redundancy which is not a huge amount - a week's pay per year of service under the age of 41, and one and a half weeks for service at age 41 and over. There is also a cap on the weekly amount, currently £220. Then there's your notice. If you don't work it, you are entitled to be paid it, and these payments are usually tax-free up to £30,000. Also don't forget your outstanding holiday entitlement.

If you get to the point of accepting that there's nothing you can do to save your job, then there's still quite a lot to talk about. Can you up the redundancy money? Most employers pay more than statutory redundancy, if only to discourage you from going to an employment tribunal with an unfair dismissal claim. The employer could end up paying up to £50,000 in compensation if you can prove you've been unfairly dismissed, so it is worth bunging you a few more pounds to keep quiet. If they've got any sense, though, they'll make you sign a 'solicitor's compromise agreement' to give up your right to go to tribunal. You have to agree that you have received independent advice from a solicitor. Your employer should pay the solicitor's bill.

Then what about finding another job. If your employer makes you work your notice, they must give you time off to look for work. Many employers also give out placement help. This usually comes from a specialised agency who will help you up date your CV and generally point you in the right direction. If this isn't offered, ask.

29th Jan 2009, 17:43
My understanding is that this would be "wrongful redundancy" rather than "unfair dismissal". Whilst Beagle is right in that strict criteria need to be followed, these criteria are can be open to interpretation i.e. sick record, length of service cannot be denied but "performance" can easily be a subjective criteria. I've been through the process when I've needed to make one of a team of 8 redundant and some criteria have a higher weighting than others. I remember that relevant qualification had a higher weighting than length of service.

However, a tribunal would be unlikely to award more than 6 months even if the claimant won the case. In addition, with most employment tribunals, the onus of proof is on the claimant, not the employer.

Just take the money, walk away gracefully, get a good reference knowing that there is no longer any stigma to having redundancy on a CV whereas there is a stigma of taking an employer to a tribunal and losing.



Squeegee Longtail
29th Jan 2009, 19:58
Sadly, I believe there will be a lot of this stuff going on this year - not necessary redundancies, but companies "restructuring" their workers under the excuse "credit crunch" when they are merely doing what suits them (but couldn't get it done before).
SHJ - your friend should take this deal and put all energies into getting re-employed asap, not into lengthy legal proceedings.

12th Feb 2009, 14:07
Just a quick update for those who contributed.....

The general consensus was to take the money and run and it would appear that that is what my friend has decided to do. There was (and perhaps still is) a certain amount of hurt feelings for being dumped so unceremoniously from the company, with loss of face etc as far as I can see, but practicalities are what's important and the process of the leaving formalities has been initiated.

It would seem that there was NO proper (legal) dismissal protocol followed and on that basis alone it is unfair dismissal, no contest. Add in the alleged bias against those few with children and the (very expensive) lawyer was of the opinion that they had a watertight case, though hopefully not like the Titanic :hmm: They were just told of the news at a regular HR meeting and had to leave the building within 30mins :eek:

However, the lawyer did say that the amount to be awarded as redundancy payment would not be bettered by the award from a tribunal and as many have said they recommended taking the money gracefully, getting a decent reference and (hopefully) find gainful employ as soon as possible. Friend has had in the last week 2 very good firm offers and is mulling over which would fit better into their life. Strange that with 'something in the hand' they are looking at the pro's and con's of said jobs, yet the recruiter was showing them several similar jobs that have had over 600 applicants overnight. I suppose that that's human nature, when we don't have anything we have a different mentality than when there is an offer there.