My employer has announced redundancies using a selection process that is obviously unfair. What should I do?

There are two ways to tackle this.

If everyone agrees that the process is unfair, or if you have a union that can take up the issue, then you should raise this collectively with your employer.

This will be much easier if 20 or more people are at risk of losing their jobs, because in this situation the employer has to consult collectively with staff, or else risk being made to pay a large financial penalty (called a ‘protective award’).

Under this consultation process, your representatives should tell your employer that the proposed selection criteria for redundancy are unfair. Part of the meaningful consultation process required by the law is that your employer should take account of these views.

Even if there is no collective consultation, you should still raise the issue. If there is no union channel, then a round-robin letter might be the best way to do it. You will find it useful getting advice before writing such a letter.

The selection criteria may be unfair because they are discriminatory. For example, the choice of selection criteria or selection methods may have a particularly severe impact on groups, such as employees with caring responsibilities, disabled employees, part-time employees or employees in a particular age bracket. 

In all redundancy or restructuring exercises involving groups of workers, it is sensible to encourage your employer to think about equality issues from the start. The best way for your employer to do this is through a thorough “equality impact assessment” of the plans. This is basically a careful checking exercise, consulting with those affected by the proposals and thinking about how they may impact negatively on different groups, and what could be done to ameliorate this. 

If you work for a public sector organisation, or your employer is a private organisation but your work involves providing a public service, consider drawing your employer’s attention to the need to comply with the Public Sector Equality Duty. This is a statutory duty to ensure that due regard is given to the need to avoid discrimination and to promote equality of opportunity. There is more information on the website of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Even if there is no collective consultation, you should still raise the issue. If there is no union channel, then a round-robin letter might be the best way to do it. You will find it useful getting advice before writing such a letter.

If you only realise that the selection criteria are unfair after the consultation process has finished, you should ask to appeal the decision to select you to a more senior manager.

If you are dismissed for redundancy but you believe your selection was unfair, you can consider launching a tribunal claim.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.