Check the reason you were chosen for redundancy was fair

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

Your employer has a right to make redundancies, but they must use fair reasons when they choose who to make redundant. 

You can challenge your redundancy if your employer chooses you for a reason that's either:

  • 'automatically unfair'

  • discriminatory

There are also special redundancy rules if the business you work for is taken over. These rules are called ‘TUPE’ - Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employees.

​​You can challenge your redundancy if either:

  • you're an employee

  • your employer chooses you for a discriminatory reason

You might be an employee even if your employer or your contract says you’re self-employed. You might not be an employee if for example you work for an agency or you’re not guaranteed to get any work.

If you’re not sure if you’re an employee, check your employment status.

Check if your redundancy is automatically unfair

Your redundancy is automatically unfair if your employer chooses you because you:

  • used your employment rights - for example asking to be paid the National Minimum Wage, or to take the legal minimum holiday or maternity leave

  • took action about a health and safety issue - for example making a complaint

  • are a whistleblower - this means you’ve reported your employer for doing something illegal

  • work part-time or are on a fixed-term contract

  • are in a trade union or have been on an official strike

  • have been on jury service

You can challenge your redundancy if you can show your employer chose you for an automatically unfair reason. It doesn't matter how long you've worked for your employer.

For example, you might be able to show your redundancy is unfair if your employer chooses you soon after you ask to be paid the National Minimum Wage.

If you think your employer has chosen you for an automatically unfair reason, check how to challenge your redundancy.

Check if you were chosen for a discriminatory reason

Your redundancy is discriminatory if your employer chose you 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 (LGBTQ+)

  • from a particular religion or you hold certain beliefs

  • older or younger than the other people you work with

These are called ‘protected characteristics’. It’s discrimination even if your employer made a mistake about your protected characteristics - for example if they thought you’re gay but you’re not.

It's also worth checking if your redundancy was 'indirect' discrimination. It might have been indirect discrimination if the way your employer made the decision was more likely to affect people with your protected characteristic.

For example, it might be indirect discrimination if your employer chooses you for redundancy because:

  • you've taken the most sick leave, and this was because you're disabled

  • you can't be flexible with the hours you work, and this was because you're a woman who cares for a child or relative

If you’re made redundant while pregnant, or on maternity, adoption or shared parental leave

Your redundancy is unfair if your pregnancy or maternity leave is part of why you’re made redundant.

Your employer has to try to find you another job with them if you’re on maternity leave, adoption leave or shared parental leave when they make you redundant.

You should be offered any suitable job your employer has, even if someone else might be more qualified - check your right to be offered other work.

If you've previously complained about discrimination

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.

You have to be able to show the reason you’re being made redundant is because of a protected characteristic. You can check if your employer discriminated against you.

Check how you can challenge discrimination

If you think you’re being made redundant for a discriminatory reason, check how to take action about discrimination. If you’ve been employed for at least 2 years, you can challenge your dismissal as unfair at the same time. Check how to challenge your dismissal.

If your employer’s business is taken over - TUPE

Your employer can’t usually make you redundant because they’ve been taken over by another business.

In most cases, your employment contract will continue and you’ll keep the same terms and conditions with your new employer. 

You can still be made redundant if your employer can show that:

  • it’s a genuine redundancy (because there’s no longer any need for the work you were doing)

  • the transfer was not the only or main reason for your redundancy

This applies if either:

  • your old employer makes you redundant before the transfery

  • your new employer makes you redundant after the transfer

You’ll also be made redundant if your employer closes down completely - this is called ‘liquidation’. Another organisation might buy your employer’s name after liquidation, but they don’t have to employ you. Check if your employer has gone into liquidation on the Companies House register on GOV.UK.

TUPE can be complicated. If you’re being made redundant because the business you work for has been taken over, talk to an adviser.

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Page last reviewed on 29 March 2023