Redundancy occurs when your employer is planning to:
- Change what the business does
- Change the location of the work you undertake.
- Change how they work, for example, using new machinery or technology.
- Close part or all of the business.
- Reorganise the way work is undertaken.
Redundancy is a form of dismissal, and the law protects employees from unfair dismissal due to discrimination or inequitable selection processes.
If you’re an employee, you can only be made redundant if your job is no longer needed. Only colleagues that occupy a permanent role will be considered in-scope where a position is made redundant. Anyone that may be on secondment would be returned to their permanent role.
Santander does not offer voluntary redundancy. Some employers have a register of those who would like to take voluntary redundancy and are then provided redundancy before others. Whilst, in theory, this sounds like a good option, in reality, it tends to be very problematic in a complex organisation and can lead to discrimination claims.
They do, in some instances, allow job swaps. This is where a member of staff who is at risk of redundancy makes arrangements with another colleague where they would stay with Santander, and the colleague would leave. This is only allowed where the roles are broadly similar and crucially where Santander agrees to accept the swap. When this happens, the colleague going will take the lowest redundancy payment that both they and the colleague at risk are entitled to.
The main criteria is that this only occurs where there is initially a genuine redundancy situation.
Whenever an employer decides to cut jobs, an employer is legally obliged to consult collectively and individually before progressing with the proposal. The law sets out the legal timeframe. We have agreed with Santander on a job security policy that goes beyond the legal requirements.
The purpose of the consultation is to avoid, reduce or look at alternatives to redundancy and, where your employer can’t avoid redundancy, to minimise the impact through redeployment or redundancy payments.
In Santander, there are two parts to consultation.
Collective consultation is where the recognised union meets with the employer and confidently reviews the proposals. If the decision is made to progress, the proposal is communicated to the impacted population, and any feedback, questions and alternative views are considered.
Advance Union is actively involved in this process so that a fair and fully considered way forward is progressed.
Individual consultation is where the proposal is progressed, and anyone who may be at risk will be aware of how the proposal will impact them individually.
At this stage, Advance can and does support members who wish to appeal any decision made in the consultation. Santander also considers all reasonable alternative proposals or views, which sometimes things change.
Once consultation completes, your employer will progress the proposal.
Consultation can sometimes feel quite a worrying and uncertain time for those whose jobs may be impacted. There are legal timeframes that Santander has to comply with, but more importantly, it’s about giving the time to make fair and considered decisions to feedback and alternative ways forward.
Legally though, the timeframes are:
0-19 – redundancies – no legal timeframe
20-99 redundancies – the consultation must start 30 days before any dismissal is implemented.
100 or more redundancies – the consultation must start at least 45 days before any dismissals.
There is usually a minimum of 28 days following being placed at risk and formal notice of redundancy.
These are, of course, minimum timeframes, and it’s important for employers to take the time to get any proposal right.
The first thing we do in any redundancy consultation asks whether your employer can avoid redundancies. We have worked with employers over many years to ensure that employers we are recognised by are using a fair and objective selection process. This is one of the benefits we bring to our members as a recognised union through our partnership agreement. Non-recognised unions have no input into this process.
Fair selection criteria protect more vulnerable members and those with protected characteristics.
During any collective consultation, Advance union will scrutinise any proposed selection criteria before being shared with the impacted members.
If you think you’ve been unfairly assessed, we can help you to appeal against your selection for redundancy.
Mothers have a ‘protected period’ from the start of pregnancy to the end of maternity leave. This doesn’t mean an employer can’t make you redundant, but they must follow strict rules.
- You can’t be made redundant because you’re pregnant or on maternity leave.
- You can still be made redundant if an employer has a genuine redundancy and you’ve been selected for another reason unrelated to your pregnancy or being on maternity leave.
- If you’re on maternity leave, you have extra protection should a genuine redundancy arise. An employer must provide suitable alternative work, if there is some, and give you priority for placement ahead of other employees.
You may still be required to undergo an assessment and selection process to determine if you’re selected for redundancy, but you may be entitled to another role. This is how this protection works in practice if you’re set for redundancy:
- If fewer numbers of the same role, your employer will assess someone on maternity leave alongside their colleagues. If a position is not secured in this selection process, then your employer should provide preferential treatment for any suitable alternative roles.
- If there are role reductions which involve the consolidation of job roles (i.e. two distinct job roles combined into one), or the role is to be replaced with a different one, someone on maternity leave should be automatically appointed to that new role (unless she has expressed a preference for voluntary redundancy).
- Anyone pregnant but not on maternity leave should be treated fairly and not selected for redundancy because of pregnancy-related reasons.
A.C.A.S. have further guidance on maternity rights, including what happens in redundancy situations.
As several policies and guidelines apply to Santander Group in the UK, we suggest you check the detail provided in the procedure you are covered by. The Santander UK information is on askHR. If you are unsure what this may mean for you, don’t hesitate to contact the Advance Union office in the first instance to help find the information that will apply to you.