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Discrimination during redundancy

This advice applies to England

It’s discrimination if you’re made redundant at least partly because you’re:

  • pregnant or on maternity leave
  • from a particular race, ethnicity or country
  • married or in a civil partnership
  • a man or a woman
  • disabled
  • lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), or seen to be
  • have a particular religion or set of beliefs
  • older or younger than the other people you work with

These categories are called ‘protected characteristics’.

You can be made redundant if you’re in one of these categories, but not if that’s the reason you’re made redundant.

Coronavirus - if you’re being made redundant

Your employer can’t discriminate against you when they are deciding whether to make you redundant. 

For example, it could be discrimination if the reason they make you redundant is because you're over 70 and you need to take extra care with social distancing. Your employer needs to see if they can find ways to let you work safely first.

You should also watch out for redundancy decisions based on rules or criteria that affect people with a protected characteristic more than others. This is called ‘indirect discrimination’. 

For example, your employer could decide to make people redundant based on how many hours they’ve worked in the last month. Women are more likely to have childcare responsibilities, and might have worked less in the last month. This means your employer’s redundancy criteria might affect women worse than men, and could be indirect discrimination against women.

It could also be discrimination if you’re made redundant and being in one of these groups made you more likely to be chosen. This could happen if the way your employer chooses people is more likely to affect people in one of these groups.

For example, it’s disability discrimination if your employer chooses you because you’ve taken the most sick leave, but your sickness was connected to a disability.

It could be sex discrimination if you're a woman caring for a child or relative and your employer makes the people with the least flexible hours redundant. Women are more likely than men to have less flexible hours because they're caring for children or relatives.

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you think you’ve been discriminated against. You might be able to challenge your redundancy.

You're pregnant or on maternity leave

You can still be made redundant if you’re pregnant or on maternity leave, but it can’t be part of the reason for making you redundant.

It’s unfair dismissal and maternity discrimination if your employer selects you for redundancy because you’re pregnant or on maternity leave. Contact your nearest Citizens Advice, as you might be able to challenge your redundancy.

You can’t be made redundant while you’re pregnant or on maternity leave if your job still exists. It’s unfair dismissal if the person who covered for you during your maternity leave is still doing your job, or one that’s similar.

If you’ll have been working for your employer for at least 2 years by the time you leave, check your right to be offered other work. You should be offered any suitable job your employer has, even if someone else might be more qualified.

If you've previously complained about discrimination (victimisation)

Your redundancy is unfair if your employer chooses you because you’ve previously complained about discrimination. Making you redundant because you’ve complained about discrimination is called victimisation - check if your redundancy is victimisation.

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