If you're facing redundancy

This advice applies to Scotland. See advice for See advice for England, See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Wales

Redundancy is when you lose your job because your employer needs to reduce their staff. It might be because your employer:

  • doesn't need as many people for the work

  • is trying to cut costs

  • is moving, closing down, or being taken over

If your employer has gone out of business

You’re unlikely to get redundancy pay from your employer, but you might be able to claim some of the money you're owed from the government. Check what you can do if your employer goes out of business.

Your employer might look at other options before redundancies. For example, they might change working hours or ask if anyone wants to volunteer for redundancy. Read about choosing voluntary redundancy.

During a redundancy process, your employer should:

  • talk with everyone whose jobs are at risk

  • hold a group consultation - if they're planning more than 20 redundancies

  • decide which redundancies to go ahead with

  • give you official notice of when your job will end if you’re being made redundant

You might get a redundancy payment when your job finishes. This usually depends on how long you worked for your employer.

How your employer decides which roles to make redundant

Redundancy begins with your employer choosing which job roles they might make redundant. The job role is considered for redundancy, not the person doing the job. These roles are known as being ‘at risk of redundancy’.

Your employer should use a fair and objective way to choose who is at risk of redundancy. For example, they might use a process looking at staff skills or disciplinary records.

Your employer must consult everyone who is at risk of redundancy before they make a final decision.

Meeting with your employer

Your employer should meet you individually at least once before they make their final decision. If you're a member of a trade union you could ask for a union representative to be with you at the meeting. If not, you could ask for a friend or colleague to go with you.

This meeting is your chance to explain why you shouldn’t be made redundant. You can also ask questions and suggest your own ideas for avoiding redundancies. Your employer doesn’t have to agree to your ideas but they should consider them.

At this meeting you should get to discuss:

  • why your employer needs to make redundancies

  • why they’re considering your role for redundancy

  • what other jobs are available

  • any questions you have about what happens next

If your employer is planning 20 or more redundancies

As well as speaking with you individually, your employer might need to hold a group consultation. This is where they talk to a group of staff representatives about their plans.

They have to do this if they plan to make the redundancies within 90 days. All the redundancies have to be from the same establishment, for example one branch of a store.

Group consultation has to happen 30 days before anyone’s job ends. If 100 or more people are being made redundant, the consultation must happen 45 days before.

If there’s a trade union at work, your employer should consult representatives from the union. 

If there isn’t a union, your employer should consult representatives from their employees. You should be given a chance to vote for who will represent you.

Your employer should give your representatives written details of:

  • why they’re making redundancies

  • how many roles they’re making redundant

  • which areas of the business they’ll choose people from

  • how they’ll choose who to make redundant

  • how they’ll work out redundancy payments

  • what process and timeline they’ll follow

Your representatives should then pass this information on to you.

If your employer has other jobs available

Your employer might offer you another job if there is one available that you could do. This is known as ‘suitable alternative employment’.

If you accept the new job before the end of your notice period, you won't get any redundancy pay. However, if you don't take the job it could also affect your right to redundancy pay.

Check your options if your employer offers you another job

If there’s a job you could do, but your employer doesn’t offer it, it could mean that your dismissal is unfair or discrimination. Check if your employer has to try to find you another job with them.

If you’re on maternity, adoption, or shared parental leave when you’re made redundant, your employer must offer you any suitable alternative jobs if they exist. If they don’t, it could make your dismissal automatically unfair. Check your employer followed the right process for finding you other work.

If you’re made redundant

Your employer will tell you how much time you're expected to stay at work until your job ends. This is called your notice period. 

Your employer will either:

  • pay your normal wage until the end of your notice period

  • end your job right away and give you all your notice pay at once - this is called 'pay in lieu of notice'

Check your rights during your notice period.

You might also get redundancy pay when your job finishes. Check how much redundancy pay you can get.

When your job finishes, you should check you’ve got:

  • your final pay

  • any redundancy pay you’re owed - or you’ve been told when you’ll get it

  • any pay in lieu if you’re not working your full notice

  • any holiday pay you’re entitled to

  • any outstanding bonus, commission or expenses you’re entitled to

Check what you can do if there’s a problem with your final pay.

Check if you can get benefits

You might be able to claim benefits or increase your current benefits while you’re looking for a new job. Check what benefits you can get.

Challenging your redundancy

If you think you were chosen unfairly, or there was a problem with your redundancy process, talk to your employer about changing their decision. If this doesn't work, you might be able to make an appeal or take legal action. However, it can be difficult to prove that a redundancy decision was unfair. 

Challenge your redundancy.

Taking time off to look for work

If you will have worked for your employer for at least 2 years by the end of your notice period they must give you reasonable time off to look for work. This includes applying for jobs, going to interviews, or getting training to help you find a new job.

You can take the time off at any time during normal working hours. Your employer can’t ask you to rearrange your work hours to make up the time off.

You’re entitled to a certain amount of paid time off during your notice period to look for work. This will be paid at your normal hourly wage. The amount of paid time you can take off is equal to 40% of one week's pay. For example, if you work 5 days a week, your employer has to pay you for 2 days of time off during your notice period. 

Your employer doesn’t have to pay you for any extra time off you take, although you could ask them to.

If your employer won’t give you paid time off to look for work

Talk to your employer. Not all employers know about the right to time off to look for work. You can show them information about this on the guide to redundancy on the Acas website.

You could also raise a formal grievance. Check how to raise a grievance at work.

If this doesn’t help, you can start a formal negotiation with your employer, known as ‘early conciliation’. Check how to use early conciliation.

If early conciliation fails, your final option is to take your employer to an employment tribunal.

If you need help getting a new job

Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE) is the Scottish government’s initiative to help people who are facing redundancy or have been made redundant. PACE can help with looking for a job, writing CVs and preparing for interviews. They can also help identify potential funding and learning opportunities.

Get more redundancy help on the My World of Work website or by calling 0800 917 8000.

Ask your employer for a written reference for your job applications. You can also ask if they’ll pay for you to get professional help with your job search as part of your redundancy package.

If you’re finding things difficult

You should talk to your GP if your redundancy is affecting your mental health. 

You can also get help on the Breathing Space website.

If you need to speak to someone 

You can speak to a trained volunteer at organisations like Samaritans or Shout.


Helpline: 116 123 (Monday to Sunday at any time)

Welsh Language Line: 0808 164 0123 (Monday to Sunday 7pm to 11pm)

Calls to Samaritans are free.

You can find other ways to get in touch with Samaritans on their website.


You can also text 'SHOUT' to 85258 to start a conversation with a trained Shout volunteer. Texts are free, anonymous and confidential from anywhere in the UK.

If you think it's an emergency

If you think your life or someone else’s is at risk, you should call 999 or go to A&E if you can.

If you need support you can call NHS 24 on 111. The Mental Health Hub is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Page last reviewed on 30 March 2023