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Redundancy: selection and notice periods

Your employer should use a fair and objective way of selecting people to make redundant. This means that it should be based on some evidence rather than your employer just deciding who they want to let go.

Methods of selection

If a method for deciding redundancies has been agreed with a trade union, your employer should follow it. It is up to your employer which reasons they use, as long as they can show that they are fair. The most commonly used reasons are:

  • last in, first out - where the employees with the shortest length of service are selected first
  • asking for volunteers - this involves self-selection
  • disciplinary records
  • staff appraisal - using markings, skills, qualifications and experience

Sometimes an employer may use a combination of criteria, which could involve using some kind of points system to get an overall score, or selecting people by asking them to reapply for their own jobs. You should remember that these methods are still just a way for the employer to decide who to select for redundancy.

If you decide not to apply, or are 'unsuccessful', you still have a job until your employer makes you redundant. If you volunteer for redundancy, it is up to your employer whether they actually select you.

Unfair selection

If you feel that your employer has selected you unfairly you should appeal against the decision. Put your appeal in writing and explain what you want your employer to do to put the situation right. The way in which you were selected will affect whether your redundancy is considered fair by an Industrial Tribunal.

It is definitely unfair if you're chosen for redundancy for discriminatory reasons. These can be direct, because you're on maternity leave for example, or they can be indirect, for example, more women work part time so it may discriminate against women to choose part timers.

Other unfair reasons for choosing you for redundancy include:

  • membership or non-membership of a trade union
  • exercising your statutory rights (for example by asking for a written statement of employment particulars
  • making disclosures about the employer's wrongdoing which is known as 'whistleblowing'
  • taking part in lawful industrial action lasting 12 weeks or less
  • taking action on health and safety grounds
  • doing jury service
  • trusteeship of a company pension scheme

Redundancy notice periods

If your employer has selected you for redundancy you must be given a notice period before your employment ends. The statutory redundancy notice periods are:

  • at least one week’s notice if you have been employed between one month and two years
  • one week’s notice for each year if employed between two and 12 years
  • 12 weeks’ notice if employed for 12 years or more

However you should also check your contract of employment because your employer could have set out longer notice periods.

Payment in lieu of notice

In some cases your employer may have included a payment in lieu of notice clause in your employment contract. This means that your employer can end your employment contract with no notice, however they must give you payment for all of the pay you would have received during the notice period.

Where can you get help?

The Labour Relations Agency (LRA) offers free, confidential and impartial advice on all employment rights issues for residents of Northern Ireland. You can contact the LRA on 028 9032 1442 from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm Monday to Friday.

Your local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) can provide free and impartial advice. You can find your local CAB office in the phone book or online.

If you have doubts about the way your employer may have calculated your statutory redundancy pay you can call the Redundancy Payments Freephone Helpline on 0800 585 811.

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