What is redundancy?
Redundancy occurs when your employer decides they no longer need a job or jobs. If it is a ‘collective redundancy’, then, depending on the numbers involved, the employer may be obliged to consult with your (usually) union representatives. The most important thing to remember is that it is the job which is made redundant, not the person. Another thing to remember is that while many workers believe that the employment has to close entirely before your job can properly be made redundant, there are in fact five ways under the law, for example, cutting down the workforce and reorganisation.

What is voluntary redundancy?
This is where your employer seeks ‘volunteers’ from among the workforce who are willing to take redundancy, often for a financial package which is in addition to their ‘statutory’ (i.e. legal) redundancy pay. Often this is a package which has been negotiated with the workforce through the union or can simply be an offer of the employer.

Who is entitled to claim the legal, statutory redundancy pay?
Under the law (Redundancy Payments Acts 1967-2007) you have to be an employee of 16 years of age or over, have 104 weeks or more continuous employment (service) with your employer and have been made redundant by that employer. Note: There are special rules about insurable employment and how you calculate service. You can have a Permanent, Part-Time and, in certain circumstances, Fixed- Purpose contract.

What are you entitled to?
If you qualify for statutory redundancy pay, you are entitled to get a lump sum made up of two weeks’ pay for each year of your service with your employer, plus a weeks’ pay, but subject to a maximum (‘ceiling’) of €600 per week. Parts of a year are calculated proportionately. You are also entitled to Notice, time off to look for work and a Redundancy Certificate to show you have been made redundant.

What can you do if you do not get what you are entitled to?
You can take a claim to the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT). However, you must do so within 52 weeks. (In exceptional circumstances this might be extended to 104 weeks) The EAT can award you your redundancy lump sum entitlement and also rule on disputes about service or whether your employer has offered you ‘reasonable alternative employment’ and therefore doesn’t have to pay you at all.

Are there any other things to watch out for?
Yes. If you are put on Lay-off or Short -time, you can claim your statutory redundancy lump sum off your employer. However, they have the right to counterclaim and if they can show that they can offer you not less than 13 weeks work not later than 4 weeks after your claim this may prevent your claim going any further for the present.

Also if you feel that you have been unfairly selected for redundancy by your employer, for example because of your seniority, then you can take a claim under the Unfair

Dismissals Acts 1977- 2007 to a Rights Commissioner (if your employer agrees) or to the EAT. In any event you must take the claim within 26 weeks (extendable in exceptional circumstances to 52 weeks).

Written by Michael Halpenny, Head of SIPTU Legal Rights Unit.
This article was published in the January 2011 issue of Liberty.