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What Are The Rules Around Redundancy Notice Periods?

May 1st, 2018

Losing your job through redundancy can be stressful and it can be a confusing time if you’ve never had to deal with something similar before. A recent court case highlighted one area of confusion in particular – when your notice period officially begins.

This became especially relevant to Sandi Haywood, an NHS manager, who was sent notice of her redundancy in the post while she was on holiday, despite her employer agreeing not to make a decision on her position until she returned from her break.

The Mirror highlighted the case, which Ms Haywood took to court to determine when her notice period officially began.

In Ms Haywood’s case, if her 12-week notice period began on or after 27 April 2011 it would expire after her 50th birthday, thereby entitling her to a higher pension. She was overseas on a two-week holiday and returned on 27 April to find a letter notifying her of her redundancy.

The NHS Trust she worked for had sent the letter on 21 April and argued that this was when her notice period should begin. However, the High Court and Court of Appeal agreed that Ms Haywood’s notice period should start on 27 April, when she actually received the letter.

According to the newspaper, the courts ruled that giving notice of the termination of employment “when in writing and posted to the employees home address, starts to run when received by the employee and they have either read it or had a reasonable opportunity to do so”.

Where Ms Haywood was concerned, she was not in a position to read the letter until her return from her holiday, which meant the notice period started six days after the letter was sent and therefore meant she was due the higher pension payments.

The news provider then explored the issue of being dismissed while on holiday and concluded that employers are able to do so, provided it can be justified.

However, when it comes to redundancy, employers have to follow a specific process before they are allowed to make anyone redundant.

Employment law director at Peninsula Alan Price explained that the process will depend on the number of redundancies proposed, but will usually include “a period of consultation, fair selection, giving notice of dismissal by reason of redundancy and providing the selected employees with the right to appeal the decision”.

If you think that your employer has behaved unfairly in redundancy procedures, it’s best to seek advice from redundancy solicitors to make sure you understand your rights and the next steps open to you.

Employers are obliged to provide certain information and make themselves available for meetings about any potential redundancy. Failure to do so could mean that you have a claim for unfair dismissal, as recently illustrated by the case of Pauline Cassidy.

People Management highlighted the judgement given by the Liverpool Employment Tribunal, which found that Ms Cassidy was unfairly dismissed and subjected to a “ham-fisted redundancy process”.

Several factors contributed to the ruling, including the fact that Ms Cassidy’s consultation meeting on her redundancy was conducted in a busy hotel foyer, that she didn’t receive her redundancy letter in the post and that a final meeting to discuss her redundancy was never held.

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