Can Redundancy Ever Be Illegal?

Redundancy is an unfortunate reality in the modern job market. It happens when an employer terminates an employee’s contract due to various reasons such as the closure of a business, technological advancements, or organisational restructuring. However, there are specific legal frameworks in place that ensure redundancy is fair and complies with the law. In this blog, we’ll delve deep into the topic of redundancy and discuss when it is legal and when it is not based on UK law.

The Legal Basis of Redundancy

Under UK Law, redundancy is a fair reason for dismissal from a job role. The primary legislation that governs redundancy is the Employment Rights Act 1996. This act provides a legal framework to protect employees’ rights during the redundancy process.

It’s important to understand that redundancy is not illegal, but there are instances where it can become unlawful.

Illegal Redundancy Practices

While redundancy is generally legal, it can become illegal if the process isn’t conducted fairly or breaches the law. Here are some situations in which redundancy can be considered unlawful.


Redundancy decisions must not be influenced by factors like race, age, gender, disability, religion, or maternity status. Employers must adhere to the Equality Act 2010 which forbids discrimination in the workplace.

Unfair Selection

Employers must have a valid and fair selection process for determining which employees will be made redundant. Criteria like performance, skills, experience, and qualifications should be considered rather than personal reasons.

Failure to Consult

Employers are legally required to consult with affected employees and their representatives before making any redundancy decisions. If they don’t properly consult. Then the redundancy process is unlawful.

Inadequate Redundancy Payment

In cases where an employee is entitled to a redundancy payment, failure to provide the appropriate compensation can be illegal.

Appealing Redundancy

Facing redundancy can be a challenging and distressing experience for employees, however, there are ways for employees to appeal redundancy decisions if they believe they’ve been treated unfairly or unlawfully.

1. Understand the Grounds for Appeal

Before initiating an appeal, it’s important to identify the grounds on which you believe the redundancy decision was unlawful. These may include:

  • Procedural irregularities. If the employer failed to follow the correct consultation procedures, provide sufficient notice, or adequately consider alternative employment options.
  • If you believe you were selected for redundancy based on discriminatory factors, such as age, race, gender, disability, religion, or maternity status.
  • Unfair selection criteria. If you believe the selection process was biased, unfair, or did not adequately consider relevant skills, qualifications, or performance.

2. Internal Appeal Process

Employers often have internal procedures in place to address grievances and appeals. To initiate an appeal, you should:

  • Review your employer’s redundancy policy outlined in the employee handbook.
  • Submit a written appeal as a formal letter outlining the grounds for your appeal and reference specific policies, and evidence if available.
  • Attend an appeal meeting if your appeal is accepted. This is where you can present your case.
  • Await the outcome. After the appeal meeting, the employer will consider your case and provide a written decision.

3. Mediation and Conciliation

In some cases, engaging in mediation or conciliation can help resolve the dispute between the employee and the employer. ACAS provides guidance and support in helping resolutions through their conciliation services.

  • Contact ACAS. If your appeal is unsuccessful, or if you believe mediation could resolve the dispute, contact ACAS to explore this option.
  • Mediation process. ACAS will assign a trained mediator to facilitate the discussion between yourself and your employer to reach a mutually acceptable resolution.

4. Employment Tribunal

If internal appeals and mediation efforts aren’t successful, you might want to consider lodging a claim with an employment tribunal. An employment tribunal is an independent judicial body that resolves employment disputes. If an employment tribunal goes ahead, you should keep the following in mind:

  • Ensure you comply with time limits for submitting a claim to the employment tribunal.
  • Collect all relevant documents, correspondence, and witness statements to support your case.
  • Seek advice from an employment law specialist to guide you through the process and provide expert advice.
  • Attend the scheduled hearing and present your case before an employment judge. The tribunal will examine the evidence and make a decision.


Redundancy is a disappointing but sometimes necessary practice. However, it’s important for employers to adhere to legal requirements and conduct the process fairly. It can become illegal when it involves discrimination, unfair selection criteria, failure to consult, or inadequate redundancy payments. While redundancy can be distressing, being aware of your rights and the legal frameworks will empower you to navigate the process more effectively and potentially seek recourse if necessary.

If you’re looking for expert advice on redundancy for employers or employees, 365 Employment Law has a wealth of experience and can offer professional legal advice.

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