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Employment Law

Hi guys,

I’m really looking for some advice. Its a long story but essentially my employer is trying to push me out the door. I was issued with an ‘Invitation to Redundancy Consultation Meeting’. The CEO has stated it is for financial reasons however I have over two years of part funding left for my position. He wants to spread this out amongst the other teams I work with. I’m not really sure where I stand. I have to attend this meeting next week and really need to be as prepared a possible.

Any advice , help, support would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks

Graeme

You need expert help. Fast.
Do you not have a union officer you can go to?
Hopefully this will bump you up to the top again, and one of our members should be able to help,

One thought occurs: you should think about having a witness at the meeting (where a union rep comes in), and even your asking if you can bring one may produce more information on what they plan.

Geoff

I do have some legal background, but NOT in employment law - that is why I’ve resisted answering.

My answer would have been similar to Geoff’s - get expert help - you can’t really trust this one to a forum.

One thing I do know is that for a redundancies to be upheld as genuine, there must be a reduced need for the work itself, NOT the person.

I.e. IF, due to changing working practises, reduced demand, or whatever, there is really less call for a particular kind of work, they may be entitled to make redundancies. What they can’t do is make the job-holder redundant, but then recruit someone to replace them, because that implies the job has not “gone” or diminished - if they have to get someone else in to do it, it must be as necessary as ever.

Work does not have to disappear absolutely for redundancies to be legitimate. It may be sufficient that the workload has fallen recently, meaning there is no longer enough for the number of people.

As to whether there is any form of discrimination, a crucial factor is whether anyone else is being considered for redundancy, or just you. If many people are under threat, it’s much harder to argue it’s anything to do with your MS (I was made redundant along with more than 600 people - the vast majority of whom did not have MS - it was therefore pretty futile to argue I’d been “singled out”.)

Has the business been going through hard times lately, meaning there are widespread cutbacks?

If it’s you, and ONLY you, is there some particular reason your job has not been as busy or essential lately? Do you do something that has suffered from falling demand?

I don’t think whether your post is funded is the issue - it’s whether it’s necessary. Just because your employer could continue to fund you doesn’t mean they’re obliged to. If your work isn’t seen as core to the success of the business, they can reallocate the funding to other areas, if they wish. That’s what management is all about - determining the priorities - sometimes leading to tough decisions. So they can pull the funding, and allocate it elsewhere. What they can’t do, however, is keep the funding - and give it to someone else for the identical job. So what they want to do - spend it on something else - is (probably) OK. What wouldn’t be OK is spending it on the same, as that would indicate the requirement for the work hadn’t lessened - they’re still willing to pay exactly the same for it, but to another person or people.

Tina

I agree with Geoff and Tina about securing some proper legal advice as fast as you can. The very act of doing this will show your bosses that you aren’t going to be pushed around. Even if they are determined to cut you loose, having a legal adviser on your case should help to negotiate the best possible exit package - this might well involve the employer (essentially) buying out any future associated unfair dismissal claim on your part (they will be worried about disability discrimination - and so they should be!) Employers tend, sensibly, to be anxious to close down that sort of potential risk - even if they think their procedures are watertight, and doubly so if they don’t - and the wise ones are prepared to pay for it in a full-and-final exit package called a ‘Compromise Agreement’. This will tend to be more generous than Statutory Redundancy Pay or any extra redundancy compensation arrangement operated by your employer. Your legal advisor is your friend here - in fact independent legal advice is a necessary feature of a Compromise Agreement.

Finally, and importantly, what do you want? Maybe you are determined to keep your job; maybe you wouldn’t be averse to an exit package if it were attractive enough. It is worth thinking through what your ideal outcome looks like.

Do get legal advice do not commit yourself to anything until you have done so…

Good luck.

Alison

Should have said - check out what (if any) your employment-related Ill-Health Retirement terms - i.e. what are your contractual entitlements in the case that your health breaks down so that the company compulsorily retires you early on that account. That might be a potential alternative exit route, and the terms can be very favourable to the employee.

Alison

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Thanks very much for your input everyone. I really appreciate you taking the time.

Just to clarify a few points: I am the only person up for redundancy.

My workload hasn’t decreased and demand is as high as ever. In fact my CEO specifically told me when I was looking into developing other areas of work to stop immediately what I was doing. This would have opened up doors to additional funding and met with the aims of the organisation. Strangely enough it was developing a physical and Mental disability strategy for the organisation. Something the local community had specifically asked for during a consultation last year.

Final, I was asked to leave the premises until the meeting next week as “It must be a shock” this is strange to me. To all intents and purposes I have been suspended.

I am hoping to speak with a Lawyer tomorrow.

Once again thanks for your advice.

All the best

Graeme

The only good thing about this astonishing behaviour on your employer’s part is that they are giving your legal advisor plenty of ammunition to sink them with.

Keep notes, by the way - sequence of events, dates and times, exact words spoken, as far as you can remember them. It is always hard to remember detail when circumstances hav bounced a person out of normal routine so abruptly.

Alison

Thanks Alison

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Dear Grazo

The MS Society funds a lawyer, Angela Brosnan, at the Disability Law Service. I have spoken to Angela about employment matters - she was really helpful - I know others who have had great advice from her too - and no charge.

Best wishes with it all

David

Thanks David,

I’ll try and give her a call.

Graeme

Sorry - I omitted the contact details

Angela Brosnan

Solicitor and MS Legal Officer

Disability Law Service

The Foundry

17 - 19 Vauxhall Way

London SE11 5RR

Tel: 0207 791 9826

Fax: 0207 791 9802

I second David’s post re Angela-excellent advice. Good luck.

Some excellent advice.

I would get a lawyer to write to your employer requesting clarification as to why you have been suspended and pointing out that they have to follow certain guidelines when dealing with someone with a disability.

Hi everyone,

Thanks very much for your advice. I saw a solicitor today and he feels I have a very strong case. A letter is getting sent to my employers on Monday! The game is on - As they say.

Slightly apprehensive but really nothing to lose at this point.

Thanks again

Graeme

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Good luck! You have a right to fair treatment.