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).