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redundancy help

Sorry - long post!

Yet again I’m facing being made redundant. This will be the forth time, but the first time it’s actually going to happen since I’ve been on long-term sick.

I used to work for a company (I won’t mention names) who have permanent health insurance which allows them to pay a percentage of an employee’s salary if they go ‘off’ sick and aren’t expected to return to work. The company sold our bit of the company to another company, who then sold our tiny bit to a third. Each time there has been a round of redundancies and I have been out of scope as making me redundant won’t affect the salary bill at all.

Now it looks like I’ll be made redundant as I have been faced with two options.

As the company is being restructured and roles being changed I could apply for one of the new roles. Which I wouldn’t get as I’m unfit for work. Or take redundancy.

I don’t know what to do! Someone mentioned to me that you can’t make someone in my position redundant - it would be constructive dismissal. I have no idea whether that is true.

I am trying to get in touch with Citizen’s Advice. It’s all very stressful, and trying to get information over the last few years with all the changes has been too stressful to cope with at times.

I have a feeling it would be best for me to just accept that my life as a working person is over. And get rid of all the work stress! At least my line manager won’t have to ignore me any more. He doesn’t seem to like being the line manager of someone who doesn’t actually do any work :wink:

Does anyone have any insight into the world of redundancy? I’ve been made redundant 3 times already so I know the process, though I don’t know what’s going on with this one! I don’t have access to anything directly.

it’s 04:34 and I can’t sleep! I’d better try and stop joining the other stuff keeping me awake.

Thanks

As I understand it, an employee cannot fairly be made redundant on the grounds of sickness. But sickness does not confer immunity from redundancy: a redundancy can be fair if done for other valid reasons and in a proper way, even if the employee happens to be off sick.

It might be worth getting professional advice on where you stand from an employment lawyer/ACAS/CAB or similar. Also, there’s plenty on the web about this.

Good luck.

Alison

Hi. This is my first reply on here, so apologies if it doesn’t go according to plan! I was in the same situation as you, me too working for a large organisation, and also having been off sick for a year, and then underwent a restructuring exercise where I applied for jobs but was unsuccessful ,so therefore in the redundancy pile. I contacted the MS society and asked for their advice as to whether this was ‘allowed’. I was told that recent case law had set a precedence that those covered by the DDA (those with MS are!) should automatically be considered for early / ill health retirement BEFORE being made redundant. This would be dependent on whether you were in an employers pension scheme, and the rules of the scheme. My employer, and my Union were not aware of this. Anyway, outcome was that I left my employer with a full company pension in my early 40’s. Suggest you contact a professional to get some advice. This is a complex area, and my cynical view is that a large organisation will always try and get away with what they can. Good luck!

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Hi Ellen,

Alison knows what she’s on about - as usual.

Although (as you’ve found in the past) some companies have a policy of excluding those on long term sick from redundancy consideration, I don’t believe it’s the law that they do so - it’s probably just to protect themselves from any allegation that the redundancy might have been motivated by your sickness. If stacks of people have been made redundant over the years, and you have been in one of the very last tranches, it would be hard indeed to argue that you’ve been discriminated against because of your health. If anything, you’ve had protection for some time, whilst others didn’t, but eventually, even that has failed.

Being off sick doesn’t automatically mean you can’t be made redundant. Anyway, what are the alternatives? If I remember rightly, you may have been off sick years? Were they going to keep paying you until retirement age, even though it’s not “expected” that you’ll ever return? If so, that’s extremely generous, and virtually unprecedented. So wouldn’t it at some point have come to termination on health grounds anyway? That in itself would not be illegal - if it’s become clear to both parties the person can’t do their job anymore, and there are no “reasonable adjustments” that would get even close, they’re not obliged to just keep paying forever.

So how does whatever you’d get by way of redundancy compare with what you’d get if your employment was terminated? It all depends whether you’re in a workplace pension scheme that allows medical retirement. If you’re not, then you wouldn’t be entitled to anything if they eventually had to dismiss you via the “capability” route. So redundancy might be the better option than hanging on and being “let go” with nothing in six months anyway. How long will they keep you on with no realistic prospect of a return - especially if they’re cost-cutting?

I was made redundant in 2012. At the time, there was a company policy that you “couldn’t” be made redundant while you were on-the-sick. I was already ill, but NOT off sick. It did occur to me I could probably sidestep it completely by going to the doctor and getting signed-off (doubt I’d have had much trouble doing that). However, I chose not to, because the redundancy package was generous, and I was fed up and struggling with the job anyway. I didn’t know how long I’d realistically be able to continue, even IF I avoided the redundancy, so I took the view a bird in the hand (the redundancy pay) was worth two in the bush (not knowing how long I could continue anyway, and NOT being entitled to medical retirement).

It was a bit of a mixed blessing as I did need/want the income really, but couldn’t see myself lasting out many more years anyway.

As around 700 others were made redundant at the same time, it wasn’t even worth challenging on grounds of “discrimination”. There might have been some grounds if I’d really wanted to, as candidates (i.e. for redundancy) were assessed on a number of criteria, one of which was “flexibility” - which meant willingness/ability to travel or work anywhere. I scored very low on this.

I don’t actually think it’s fair to mark someone who’s ill and doesn’t drive as “inflexible” because they can’t or won’t move house, commute, travel abroad etc. at the company’s say-so. I did have a lack of flexibility, but this was not me choosing to be awkward, but something beyond my control. I did take it up with HR, who sat in on the “at risk” consultation, but did not get any answer whatsoever - other than she acknowledged having heard me. If I’d wanted to make a big thing of it, I could have made a formal appeal, on the basis I was being unfairly assessed as “inflexible”, when illness prevented me from being as flexible as others.

But by that time, my sentiment was very much: “I don’t want to work for you bunch of tossers anyway - just give me my money!”, so I didn’t contest any of it. No point appealing for an outcome I didn’t want (having to still work for them).

Tina

x

That is great news and very useful information. Bravo the MS Society!

Alison

you have some sound advice from Alison and Liz44.

Firstly you must decide what exactly you want.

I would see solicitor who specialises in employment and disability and if he/she thinks it advisable I’d get a letter sent to your employer asking for clarification re. the situation where someone on long-term sick is facing redundancy. I wonder if you could return to work if certain adaptations were undertaken?

Solicitors are expensive but once they have a letter your employer will get the message that they have to do things properly according to the law.

(You must not assume that because you are on long-term sick your employer will treat you kindly and sympathetically - they may not!)

Of course it’s stressful but the bottom line is you may have to fight to get what are your rights.

Hiya, from my time as a shop steward in redundancies, you moved from one company to another three times, this would have been covered by TUPE agreement, it meant that you kept original (1st company) terms and conditions, or you agreed to second company’s terms and conditions, and so on till third, fourth company, redundancy payments therefore maybe from start of employment from working start of first company, you are entitled to a week per year wages, if under 41, a week and a half if over 41, to a maximum of 20 years, tax free, the company may (not statutory) pay severence money as a carrot to get you out, this is also tax free and could be equal same as redundancy, of course the tories may have changed some entitlements, Brian