Collective Redundancy

Andrew Boast
7 min read
collective redundancy advice from employment law friend

Collective redundancy is different to normal redundancy – if a company is facing insolvency and lots of dismissals happen at once, there are special rules for employers to make sure everyone understands the risk to their job. This process is designed to help employees like you face the future when many jobs have to go, so you know what is happening when, and whether there’s anything you can do about it.

What is collective redundancy?

This is what happens when 20 or more people at the same workplace are made redundant together. If this adds up to 20+ people losing their jobs within 90 days in a mass redundancy, then special collective consultation rules apply to protect you, the employee.

But it’s my whole office – surely that’s still collective redundancy?
No. If you are one of fewer than 20 people dismissed, this is not mass redundancy – you’re being made redundant normally. Your employer should still consult you, though, or the dismissal might be unfair dismissal – there’s help on being made redundant here.

What is the collective redundancy consultation process?

The main difference with collective redundancy is the collective consultation process rules. Once your employer has notified the Redundancy Payment Service (RPS) of how many jobs have to go, they must start the collective redundancy consultation by communicating with your reps to make their plans – your trade union representatives or any elected employee representatives your company has like a staff forum.

You can elect representatives from among your colleagues, or stand to be a rep yourself if the redundancies will affect you. If you don’t have any reps, and no one wants to stand as a rep, your employers must still talk to you all directly.

All affected employees must be involved in the consultation – including people away on parental leave, for example. And if any of your existing employee reps aren’t available to take part – if perhaps they’re on long term sick etc. – you need to be given the opportunity to elect someone to replace them.

What is their role, and how do you elect them?
If you don’t already have formal reps at work, and everyone decides you need to elect some representation, your employer has responsibilities to make sure this is done fairly. They need to do this in good time, so that the reps have full time and opportunity to do their best by you.

For the elections, your employer needs to ensure that:
  • People standing to be representatives are actually affected by the redundancy – this might include people who are not personally losing their jobs
  • No one affected is excluded unreasonably from standing as a representative
  • Everyone affected has the right to vote for their chosen employee rep or reps
  • If there are several representatives to be elected, everyone can vote for the same number of candidates, i.e., three reps are needed, so everyone can vote for three candidates.
  • If the affected employees are split into groups, for example a shop floor group and a warehouse group, with one rep each, then each group can vote for one candidate.
  • There must be enough reps elected to represent everyone’s interests and needs
  • Just like in a public election, people must be able to cast their votes in secrecy, and the votes must be counted accurately

What exactly do representatives do for us?
They’ll need to:
    Work with your employer to see if the number of redundancies can be kept low or which if any can be avoided
    Discuss how to choose which people will be made redundant
    Discuss how the affected employees can best be supported through the redundancies and what the redundancy package will include

Who is the best person to be our collective consultation rep?

Choose wisely! Reps need to be able to keep a clear head in what is probably a stressful time for everyone.
  • Brain-power: They need to be able to understand what the employer is proposing. They also need to be able to grasp the legal requirements, to make sure your employer doesn’t break the rules that protect you.
  • Communication: The rep must be able to explain clearly to everyone what’s going on, and share all the relevant information with you. They also need to get everyone’s opinions, ideas and suggestions together to put in front of your employers, and bring forward everyone’s questions rising from the collective consultation.
  • Working together: Reps need to be able to work together, to get the best for all staff across departments affected by the redundancy.
  • Grit: Your chosen reps need to be able to face management and present everyone’s responses. They’ll need to be active in the discussions and fight your corner for problem-solving and the best resolutions for everyone. They’ll then have to face all of you to communicate about the collective consultation outcomes.

Why would I get involved in that when collective redundancy is on the cards?

This is an opportunity to find the best deal for everyone you work with. There are laws that protect employee representatives, just like trade union reps. Reps are also allowed to have time off from their normal work to do their duties as reps, and to train. And your employer needs to make sure they have access to everyone they reasonably might need to talk to, and any facilities at work they might need to use.

What does the collective consultation process have to cover?

Your employer needs to tell you all how many jobs are going, and give you or your representatives enough time to consider your options. They should keep their plans flexible until everyone’s been consulted. The collective consultation also has to tell you:
  • Why they’re making the collective redundancy
  • Any ways redundancies can be avoided or minimised, like offering early retirement or compressed hours
  • Whether there is suitable alternative work or a way to make things easier for you, such as moving staff to another role or retraining people
  • Which types of employees have to go, for example, shop floor or management, and how many people in each of those categories are involved
  • How your employer will choose who is made redundant and who (if anyone) stays, for example, last in, first out
  • How they will work out redundancy payments
  • The details of how the redundancy process will be carried out, which includes deciding notice periods and how you will work your notice
  • As part of the collective consultation, your employer must also get back to anyone who asks for more information, and give you termination notices which tell you your proposed leaving date
  • As the last step, they need to issue redundancy notices for everyone involved

If you feel the collective consultation process hasn’t dealt with all this fully, then the dismissal might class as unfair. There’s more information on unfair dismissal here.

It might even be worth you all working together to take things to an employment tribunal to make a ‘protective award’ claim – if your employer is proved to have broken the rules on consulting all of you, the penalty could be 90 days’ full pay for everyone affected.

If you have not been paid the correct redundancy or notice pay, you make be able to raise a claim for unlawful deduction of wages.

What is the minimum consultation period for collective redundancy?

This depends on how many redundancies they’re talking about. If 20-99 people will lose their jobs, your employer must give you all 30 days for consultation before the first person’s job ends. If there are 100 or more people being dismissed, the collective consultation process must last for 45 days before anyone must leave.

There’s actually no time limit – if your employer is able to, they might start the consultation further ahead.

Sometimes employers hesitate, as breaking the bad news publicly can make a difficult situation worse if they’re trying to sell the business or any assets – but you have rights, and if you’re not given the full 30-day or 45-day period, the company is breaking the rules.

Frequently Asked Questions
Aside from the collective consultation process, no. Your employer must still follow the same steps as they would to make one person redundant. If your employer hasn’t followed these steps properly, your redundancy could be unfair dismissal. If you think this might have happened, advice is available here.

Are you being made redundant?

If you feel that your collective redundancy rights have been breached or neglected whether on purpose or not, you can get in contact with us and see how we can help.

Employment Law Specialist | Competitive Quotes | Straight Talking Legal Support

This content is provided free of charge for information purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. No responsibility for the accuracy and/or correctness of the information and commentary set out in the article, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed or accepted by any member of our company. For employment law advice please get in contact and speak to your employment law solicitors.
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