The Law Shop is now closed. Please click here to find out more.


You may be made redundant if your employer is looking to reduce the number of staff working for them, or there is no longer any need for someone to do your job. Whatever the reason, you should make sure you know your rights in this situation.

Redundancy is a type of dismissal which can occur when an employer wants to reduce the number of staff working for them. They may select workers for redundancy, ask for volunteers, or both. Whichever method they use, it must be fair to employees.

Some common methods used for selecting who to make redundant include:

  • looking at the skills, qualifications and appraisal scores of staff
  • checking employees’ disciplinary records
  • the ‘last in, first out’ method, where the more recent employees are the first to go

One thing all these methods have in common is that they are backed by evidence. While an employer may select staff for redundancy on the basis of work performance, for example, this must be demonstrated through appraisal records or a similar method, rather than the employer simply selecting the employees they think are the worst performers on a whim.

A specific method for selecting employees for redundancy may be described in the staff’s employment contracts, or your employer may have used a particular method without objection in a previous redundancy situation. In these cases, the method stated or the process which has been used before should be applied.

A selection process will not be necessary if a particular department is being shut down entirely, meaning all of the employees there will be made redundant.

Unfair redundancy

If your employer selects people for redundancy for unfair reasons, this will be seen as unfair dismissal. It is unfair to make people redundant on the basis of:

  • age
  • gender
  • race
  • sexuality
  • marital status
  • disability
  • religion or other strongly-held belief
  • their working pattern (for example, part-time employees)
  • taking maternity, paternity, parental or dependents leave
  • being pregnant or giving birth
  • membership of or involvement in trade union activities, or lack thereof
  • involvement in health and safety activities, or having taken action over health and safety concerns
  • asserting their statutory employment rights
  • taking part in a strike or other industrial action for 12 weeks or less
  • whistleblowing
  • being a trustee of a company pension scheme
  • jury service

Some of these reasons also count as discrimination. If you feel that you have been unfairly selected for redundancy or discriminated against, you may be able to make a claim at an employment tribunal.

Redundancy rights

If you are facing redundancy, there are a number of employment rights that you may be entitled to. These can include a notice period, redundancy pay, the offer of suitable alternative employment, and time off to look for work. Your employer should also consult with you or an employee representative over the need for the redundancies.

For a complete overview of these rights and when they are applicable, read our page on redundancy pay and rights.