What are my rights when faced with redundancy at school?

Overview

You may be aware of colleagues who have been made redundant at your school or are going through the redundancy process yourself. There are a number of reasons why you could be made redundant and you should be reassured that it is not an uncommon process.

In this article, we outline how you can be selected for redundancy, how to appeal a redundancy decision and what rights you are entitled to if being made redundant.

Why am I being made redundant?

In most cases, schools and Trusts will need to make redundancies due to financial difficulties, restructuring or when a school closes. You could be made redundant if:

  • Your department is overstaffed
  • Your post can no longer be funded
  • Classes and school duties are reorganised or restructured so work can be completed by fewer staff
  • Your subject or course is discontinued
  • Your school merges with another school
  • Your school closes

Should I be consulted before being made redundant?

You should be warned of the possibility of redundancies as early as possible. Before making anyone redundant your school should consult with the members of staff who will be affected.

As part of the consultation process your school should establish objective criteria for selection of staff for redundancy.

Your school will also need to apply the criteria objectively to that fair selections are made. You are entitled to talk to your school about:

  • Why you are being made redundant
  • Any alternatives to redundancy

What rights can I be entitled to if I am being made redundant?

If being made redundant, you might be eligible for certain rights, including:

  • Redundancy pay
  • A notice period
  • A consultation with your school
  • The option to move into a different job
  • Time away from school to attend job interviews

You must be selected for redundancy in a fair way, for example, because of your level of experience or capability to do the job.

You cannot be selected because of age, gender, or if you are disabled or pregnant. If you are, this could be classed as an unfair dismissal.

How should I be selected for redundancy?

Your school should use a fair and objective way of selecting you for redundancy. Methods can include:

  • Last in, first out (members of staff with the shortest length of service are selected first)
  • Asking for volunteers (self-selection)
  • Looking over disciplinary records
  • Staff appraisal markings, skills, qualifications and experience

If your employer uses ‘last in, first out’, make sure you are not being discriminated against, for example, if it means only young people are made redundant.

What would be deemed as ‘unfair’?

You cannot be selected for redundancy because one of the following factors is stated as a reason:

  • Gender
  • Marital status
  • Sexual orientation
  • Race
  • Disability
  • Religion or belief
  • Age
  • Membership or non-membership of a trade union
  • Health and safety activities
  • Working pattern, for example, part-time or fixed-term employee
  • Maternity leave, birth or pregnancy
  • Paternity leave, parental or dependants leave
  • Exercising your statutory employment rights
  • Whistleblowing, for example, making disclosures about your employer’s wrongdoing
  • Taking part in lawful industrial action lasting 12 weeks or less
  • Taking action on health and safety grounds
  • Completing jury service

How can I appeal a redundancy decision?

You can appeal a redundancy decision if you feel that you’ve been unfairly selected. You can write to your school or Trust explaining why you feel you have been unfairly selected.

If you are a subscriber, we strongly recommend contacting us first before doing so.

How does voluntary redundancy work?

Your school might ask if anyone wants to take voluntary redundancy.

You should think carefully about whether voluntary redundancy is right for you, including whether you’ll get any redundancy pay and how it will affect things like claiming benefits or your mortgage.

It is up to your school whether they actually select you if you volunteer for redundancy.

Ask your school what the redundancy package will be. Sometimes schools offer incentives for taking voluntary redundancy, like extra redundancy pay or not having to work your notice period.

Can I be asked to reapply for my job?

You might be asked to reapply for your own job, which could help your school decide who to select.

If you do not apply or you are unsuccessful in your application, you will still have a job until your employer makes you redundant.

What can I expect for my redundancy pay?

You will be entitled to statutory redundancy pay (as a minimum) if you have been working for your current school for two years or more. You will receive:

  • 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

Length of service is capped at 20 years and weekly pay is capped at £538. The maximum amount of statutory redundancy pay is £16,140. You can calculate your redundancy pay on the GOV.UK website.

Redundancy pay (including any severance pay) under £30,000 isn’t taxable. Your employer will deduct tax and National Insurance contributions from any wages or holiday pay they owe you.

Are there any exception to this?

You are not entitled to statutory redundancy pay if:

  • Your school or Trust offers to keep you on
  • Your school or Trust offers you suitable alternative work which you refuse without good reason

How does my notice period work?

You must be given a notice period before your employment ends. The statutory redundancy notice periods are:

  • At least one week’s notice if employed between one month and 2 years
  • One week’s notice for each year if employed between 2 and 12 years
  • 12 weeks’ notice if employed for 12 years or more

Check your employment contract. Your school may give you more than the statutory minimum, but they cannot give you less.

Should I receive notice pay?

As well as statutory redundancy pay, your school or Trust should either:

  • Pay you through your notice period
  • Pay you in lieu of notice depending on your circumstances

Your employment can be ended without notice if ‘payment in lieu of notice’ is included in your contract. Your school or Trust will pay you instead of giving you a notice period. You get all of the basic pay you would have received during the notice period.

Your employer may still offer you payment in lieu of notice, even if your contract doesn’t mention it. If you accept, you should receive full pay and any extras that are in your contract.

Should I take suitable alternative employment?

Your school or Trust might offer you ‘suitable alternative employment’ within your group of schools.

Whether a job is suitable depends on:

  • How similar the work is to your current role
  • The terms of the job being offered
  • Your skills, abilities and circumstances in relation to the job
  • The pay (including benefits), status, hours and location

Your redundancy could be classed as unfair dismissal if your employer has suitable alternative employment and they do not offer it to you.

You may lose your right to statutory redundancy pay if you unreasonably turn down suitable alternative employment.

You can make a claim to an employment tribunal if you think the job you’ve been offered isn’t suitable. Edapt has produced another article which explains what employment tribunals are.

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The information contained within this article is not a complete or final statement of the law.
While Edapt has sought to ensure that the information is accurate and up-to-date, it is not responsible and will not be held liable for any inaccuracies and their consequences, including any loss arising from relying on this information. This article may contain information sourced from public sector bodies and licensed under the Open Government Licence. If you are an Edapt subscriber with an employment-related issue, please contact us and we will be able to refer you to one of our caseworkers.