We’ve heard a lot in the run-up to the election (and since) about improved employment figures.  However, there are still reports on a regular basis of large employers (often, but not exclusively) in the public sector, inviting applications for voluntary redundancies as part of large-scale cutbacks.  There are usually sound reasons for employers looking at voluntary, rather than compulsory, redundancies: for example, they may avoid having to go through time-consuming selection processes and they may be able to reduce or avoid completely the effect on morale of dismissing employees against their will.

However, how many employers know that a “voluntary redundancy”, in nearly all cases, is still a “dismissal”?  It is, and that is one reason why employers need to be careful about how they go about it.  They also need to be careful that they don’t unlawfully discriminate against volunteers when deciding who to offer the redundancy package to.   On the other hand, employees need to remember, that just because they apply for voluntary redundancy, it does not automatically mean that their applications will be granted.  They may have a role which is too important, their redundancy packages may make losing them too expensive for their employer, or there may simply be more applications than there are redundancies.

So, despite a situation where you may get half the workforce stepping forward, hands in the air clamouring to be dismissed, often for an enhanced redundancy package, the situation can still lead to dispute.  That is why it is sensible for employers to offer voluntary redundancy on the condition that the departing employees sign up to settlement agreements after taking independent legal advice on the effect of those agreements (as is required to make the agreement legally binding).

Luckily, we at Gorvins specialise in advising employers on the process(es) to be adopted.  Equally, we specialise in providing independent legal advice to large numbers of employees affected by mass redundancy situations on the effect of their settlement agreements, in person (whether on site, at our offices or by telephone).

If you’d like to know more on our services, whether you’re an employer or employee, please contact Paul Longmire on 0161 930 5278

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