Thames Valley: Law firm comments on redundancy and discrimination

Partner Sue Dowling, head of Blandy & Blandy’s Employment Law team, looks at the ONS’ recent findings, which highlighted that certain employees facing redundancy are at risk of discrimination.

Findings recently published by The Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that employees in certain age groups and from particular backgrounds are likely to be disproportionately affected in terms of job losses resulting from the ongoing economic downturn.

The data highlighted that the number of workers in the UK fell by 730,000 between March and July 2020.

It showed that workers aged 18 to 24 and those over 50 were more likely to lose their jobs amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, while Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) workers were nearly 50% more likely to be affected than those in a nationally representative sample.

Alongside job losses, workers have also experienced reductions in their working hours and incomes and the number of people employed on a zero hours contract has risen from 156,000 to 1.05 million in the past six months – a record level.

Redundancy and reorganisation situations can be overwhelming and unsettling for anyone in the workplace, particularly for those whose roles have been placed at risk. Special considerations and further procedures apply when multiple redundancies arise.

Before any redundancies are implemented, employers must implement carefully considered selection and/or consultation procedures, to ensure that employees are treated fairly and lawfully. Failing to adopt a fair process, or allowing the process to be tainted with unlawful discrimination, may result in an employee making claim for compensation for unlawful discrimination and/or unfair dismissal.

According to the Equality Act 2010, age, disability, pregnancy and maternity, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation and gender re-assignment represent ‘protected characteristics’. Employees cannot be treated less favourably by their employers because of these characteristics.

Blandy & Blandy’s specialist Employment Law team provides advice at every stage of the redundancy process, to ensure that employees benefit from the best possible outcome. It is strongly advised that you seek legal advice on redundancy, settlement agreements and associated exit arrangements at the earliest opportunity.

We are also experienced in advising employers of all sizes on designing and conducting fair restructuring and redundancy processes, so we understand the issues from ‘both sides’.

You may find Blandy & Blandy’s blog articles, ‘Redundancy FAQs – A Guide for Employees’ and ‘What is a Settlement Agreement and What Should It Contain?’ and ‘What Are An Employee’s Protected Characteristics’, useful.

For further information or legal advice, visit www.blandy.co.uk