Redundancy: Do employee redundancy rights change because of COVID-19?

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The coronavirus crisis has significantly damaged the UK economy, and many people have already lost their jobs this year. While the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has intended to preserve jobs through furlough, it is inevitable more people will be made redundant over the coming months.

The already difficult situation for UK business is also likely to continue, as it was recently confirmed the UK has entered a recession.

The UK economy has reported two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth, meaning the UK is now back in a recession for the first time in 11 years.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) confirmed the recession, revealing the economy shrunk by 20.4 percent between April and June.

Responding to the latest GDP report, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “I’ve said before that hard times were ahead, and today’s figures confirm that hard times are here.

“Hundreds of thousands of people have already lost their jobs, and sadly in the coming months many more will.”

Mr Sunak added: “I can assure people that nobody will be left without hope or opportunity.” spoke to an employment expert about how COVID-19 affects employee redundancy rights.

Do employee redundancy rights change because of COVID-19?

Gillian McAteer, Head of Employment Law at Citation, told employers will still be required to “follow a fair and reasonable process” with redundancies.

Ms McAteer said: “The redundancy process hasn’t changed as a result of COVID-19.

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“Every employer will still have to follow a fair and reasonable process when it comes to making redundancies, especially if employees have more than two years’ service.

“For employers who have employees with less than two years’ service we would still recommend they follow a fair and reasonable process to avoid any other potential claims.

“There have been some misconceptions around redundancy and furlough, however, employees can still be made redundant while on furlough and the proper procedures will still need to be carried out.

“However, consideration will need to be given about whether redundancy is reasonable at this time and whether an employer could continue with the furlough scheme rather than make redundancies.

“It could be unreasonable to proceed with redundancies, if an employer has the resources to keep an employee on furlough for longer at a minimal additional cost.

“If an employee is made redundant then their redundancy pay will be calculated on their normal pay before they were placed on furlough, however, grants cannot be used to substitute redundancy payments.”

The Government website has further information on employee rights and redundancy.

You can also get advice on redundancy from Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) or Citizens Advice.

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