Redundancy rights for older workers

With redundancy rates rising as the cost of living crisis continues, outlines your rights in a redundancy situation.



Redundancies are rising, with more lay-offs being announced every week as a result of the economic uncertainty and technology-related changes. With vacancies still high, however, the effect has been muted, but for those working in a specialist field and for those facing ageism in the recruitment process it can be hard to find a new job.

According to March figures from the Office for National Satistics (ONS), the number of UK companies considering redundancies are at a record high. In March, an average of 76 businesses wanted to make more than 20 staff redundant, a 90% increase compared to March 2022. With no let-up in the rising cost of living, many businesses are likely to go under.

So if you are faced with redundancy what are your rights?

There are several stages your employer should go through before it announces potential redundancies, including considering alternatives to redundancy and pooling those at risk fairly. Your employer should consult you both individually and collectively (with a recognised trade union or elected staff representatives) if 20 or more posts are going to be made redundant.

The reasons for the redundancy should be set out in writing, and you should be invited to at least one meeting to explore ways to avoid the redundancy, comment on the basis for selection and consider other roles with the company.

Your notice period can only begin once this consultation is finished, which must last at least 30 days when 20 or more posts are made redundant (90 days if there are 100 or more).

Notice period

The length of your notice period is usually set out in your employment contract.

The statutory minimum is one week if you have worked for your employer between one month and two years, and a week per complete year of service beyond two years, up to 12 weeks.

Redundancy payment

The biggest question in all of this is usually ‘How much redundancy will I get?’

If you have more than two years of service, you are also entitled to a statutory redundancy payment. This is based on your age and length of service, up to a period of 20 years:

  • half a week’s pay for each full year you were under 22
  • one week’s pay for each full year you were 22 or older, but under 41
  • one and half week’s pay for each full year you were 41 or older.

Contesting redundancy

There are some steps you could take to avoid, delay, contest or negotiate your redundancy. Use consultation to ask as many questions as possible. This may delay the end of the consultation period and buy you a few more weeks in employment.

Question whether there is a genuine redundancy situation. Suggest ways to avoid redundancy, for example, suggesting job sharing, pay cuts, part-time working, etc. The more realistic your proposals, the harder it is for your employer to brush them away.

Check which posts are at risk. If one of your colleagues is doing a similar job to you, they should also be facing redundancy which could be discriminatory, for instance, if you feel you have been chosen because you work flexibly or because of your age. Age is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 so to put you at risk of redundancy solely due to your age could be discriminatory. Ask for details of the scoring of each of those in the selection pool and the supporting evidence and argue your case if there is any obvious discrepancy with your colleagues.

Finding another job

If contesting the redundancy isn’t an option, or doesn’t help, you’ll need to find a new role. Often employers will run workshops and provide other support to help you find a new job – from CV writing advice to interview tips. Do take advantage of these as they will help you feel more confident about your next step. Equally, treat every job interview as a learning experience. Each one will take you closer to your new job.

Depending on your redundancy package, you may have a degree of freedom to consider your next move. Many people use redundancy as a springboard to pursue a new career direction – whether it’s as a freelancer, retraining in a new vocation or starting your own business. There are several organisations that can help you to plan your next step, for instance, Brave Starts which focuses on career change and, if you are interested in going it alone, the Start-up School for Seniors.

*If you are facing redundancy and need advice or support, contact at [email protected].


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