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Redundancy

Hi, Sadly not, I imagine, an unusual topic. Long story short. Diagnosed with MS in 2016. “Fortunately”, the “only” symptoms I have are the usual fatigue which kicks in after a long hard day (office based). I’ve been with my company and its predecessor for 23 years. They have announced a restructuring so my current role will be London based as opposed to at present where I’m in the West Country and travel up occasionally for group meetings. As a result of that shift they are saying I’ve been provisionally selected for redundancy. Obviously I could commute everyday up to London 2.5 hours each way plus say an hour on the tube etc as I have to when I go to meetings at present. That usual trip (1 per month or so) leaves me totally wiped out by the time I get home. Doing that every day would cripple me, as you can imagine). My question is, am I being discriminated against? If it is perfectly viable for me to carry on doing my role as at present, maybe even commuting once per week, are they being unreasonable? The role is head of research, office based and confiscating with colleagues in different offices. The existing office will not be closing, just the role moved to London. Does anyone have any words of wisdom or advice? Many thanks. My

It doesn’t sound obviously discrimatory - more just rotten luck and rotten timing - but it depends on the detail, how other people in a similar boat are beng treated etc.

As for continuing to perform your current role from your current location, well, that is your case to make, and I think you should make it for all you’re worth. In your favour you have all the work-based arguments that you are no doubt thinking through already, plus the fact that you have a disability in the form of MS and that such an arrangement could potentially be classed as a reasonable adjustment to help keep you at work, doing the role you are employed to do. You’ll need to prepare your defences against the usual stuff about needing to be in the same location as your reporting team, blah, blah, but you will be prepared for all that and anyway those arguments have been largely exploded by modern workplace communications - communications that will no doubt be reinforced as your employer secures the links between London HQ and the regional offices.

If this fails, a couple of things spring to mind. First, what ill-health retirement provisions do you have in place? Would they give you a better deal than redundancy? You probably know; if not, find out. And if IHR would give you a better deal then that is an obvious fall-back if they won’t let you do your role from your current location.

If that isn’t an option either, what about redeployment to another role in the West Country office? Far from ideal, for all sorts of obvious reasons, but at a push it might give you a holding orbit with continuity of employment while you worked on your case for getting IHR at some future point. Even putting up with a rotten job at a lower grade (although they might perserve your pay if they are decent) might be worth it for a bit. Again, you would need to do work out what you thought you could stand, financially or (more importantly) personally. Plus what is available or feasible, obviously.

Do you have legal advice? If not, I think that might be a very good investment. This is a very big deal for you, and worth throwing a bit of money at to make sure you are well represented and get the best deal that you can get - whatever that ends up looking like.

Keep calm, don’t say yes to anything until you have taken advice and time to think things through, and plan your campaign. I wish you well.

Alison

Agree with Alison - you need legal advice from a solicitor familiar with Disability issues. You must be very specific in what you want and be prepared to fight for it and make sure your employer knows that. Let your employer know that they can be sued for discrimination or for constructive dismissal. Can your employer ‘prove’ that the person doing your job has to be London based? The one thing you must not do is resign.

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Some basics of redundancy here if you haven’t already looked : www.gov.uk/redundant-your-rights.

I know nothing of redundancy but if you were selected BECAUSE of your disability you could take them to a tribunal for unfair dismissal. How easy it would be to prove is another matter i guess and you would need proper qualified advise.

I note you have worked for them or their predecessor for quite some time.Is it possible as a transferred employee from the predecessor you have more generous terms of redundancy than most?

My Brother did rather well from a redundancy from a job he couldn’t wait to get out of. He had been transferred twice as work was outsourced and his terms and conditions which also transferred meant he got a lot more than minimum or anybody else made redundant at same time.He was so exited when he got the letter telling him if he hadn’t applied for his job by x date he was redundant.He suspects when they started this process they hadn’t realised the cost involved but had kept quiet about it during the process until decision made!

Good luck