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Fair reasons for redundancy

This advice applies to Northern Ireland

Your redundancy is unfair if you’re chosen at least partly because you:

  • asked for one of your rights at work - for example asking for minimum wage, holiday or maternity leave
  • took action about health and safety - for example making a complaint
  • are a whistleblower - you’ve reported your employer for doing something illegal
  • work part-time or are on a fixed-term contract
  • work in a shop and refused to work on a Sunday
  • are in a trade union or have been on an official strike
  • have been on jury service

These are called ‘automatically unfair reasons’. They’re unfair no matter how long you’ve been working for your employer.

You can be made redundant in these situations, but not if they’re the reason for your redundancy. You might be able to show you’ve been dismissed for an automatically unfair reason if:

  • most other people in the same situation have also been chosen for redundancy
  • other people with similar jobs aren’t considered for redundancy
  • you’re made redundant soon after asking for your rights, whistleblowing, making a health and safety complaint, striking or going on jury service

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you think your employer has chosen you for an automatically unfair reason. You might be able to challenge your redundancy.

Check if your employer has been reasonable

If you’ve worked for your employer for at least 2 years your employer also has to be reasonable when choosing you for redundancy. They should first consider the right group of people for redundancy, then choose people from that group in a fair way.

If you’ve worked for your employer for less than 2 years your employer doesn’t have to show that they’ve chosen you reasonably. But they still can’t discriminate against you or choose you for an automatically unfair reason.

Make sure your employer has considered the right people for redundancy

Your employer should decide who’s at risk of redundancy. This is called the ‘pool’. Your employer should tell you about the pool before choosing you for redundancy. 

For example, your pool could be everyone in one part of the business or everyone with a certain job title. You might be the only person in the pool if you’re at a small employer or you’re the only person doing your job.

Being in the pool doesn’t always mean you’ll be made redundant. Your employer should tell you how many people from the pool they’ll make redundant.

When a pool is unfair

Check if there are other people doing similar work to you who aren’t in the pool - especially if you’re the only person in your pool. This could show your pool is unfair.

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you think your pool is unfair. You might be able to challenge your redundancy - starting with talking to your employer about why you think the pool is unfair.

If you want to be made redundant ('voluntary redundancy')

If you volunteer to be made redundant your employer can still choose someone else as long as they choose fairly.

Find out more about how voluntary redundancy works.

Check if you’ve been chosen fairly from your redundancy pool

If you’re in the pool for redundancy, your employer can either:

  • make everyone in the pool redundant and ask you to apply for new jobs
  • decide on a fair way to choose people from the pool

If your employer asks you to apply for new jobs, you should have a chance to apply even if the jobs are different from what you were doing before.

If your employer decides on another way to choose people from the pool it has to be based on something they can measure, such as:

  • your disciplinary record
  • your timekeeping
  • how long you’ve worked for them
  • performance, if they can show how they’re measuring it

Your employer will usually give you a score based on one or more measurements, then choose the people with the lowest scores for redundancy. They should:

  • tell you in advance how they’ll choose and score you
  • score everyone in the pool using the same method
  • show you your scores (though they don’t have to show you anyone else’s scores)
  • only choose the people with the lowest scores for redundancy

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if your employer hasn’t followed these rules. You might be able to challenge your redundancy.

If you don’t think your scores are fair, ask your employer for an explanation. If they’ve followed the rules and can explain their scores it can be hard to challenge them, even if your scores feel unfair.

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