The UK is now in the largest recession in history. Unemployment is rising - data covering July showed 730,000 fewer people on payrolls since the lockdown started and, we anticipate that as the furlough scheme slowly grinds to a halt, the number of redundancies will increase sharply. Earlier this week, the Guardian reported that one in three employers expect to cut jobs by the autumn.  

The Citizens Advice Bureau has conducted an important survey of 6015 people. It's report 'An Unequal Crisis' reveals that 1 in 6 people are facing redundancy (17% of working population) but that women and disabled people are disproportionately affected. Specifically:

  • 1 in 4 disabled people (27%) are facing redundancy, rising to 37% for those people whose disability has a substantial impact on their activities
  • 1 in 2 people who are extremely clinically vulnerable to coronavirus (48%) are facing redundancy
  • 2 in 5 people with caring responsibilities (39%), either for children or vulnerable adults, are facing redundancy
  • 3 in 10 people with children under 18 (31%) are facing redundancy, compared to less than 1 in 10 (7%) of those who don’t have children under 18.

This data indicates that there's a double-detriment to disabled people who have caring responsibilities, such as being parents of a young children.

Last week, Acas reported that it had seen redundancy related calls to its helpline increase by over 160% over the past two months when compared to the same period in 2019. The Citizens Advice Bureau has also seen a 370% surge in the numbers of people seeking advice about redundancy. 

The CAB argues that many people are being selected for redundancy for reasons that are discriminatory - an issue we raised here. However, it argues that it's more difficult than ever for them to enforce their rights because of the lack of free support and the backlog in tribunal claims. It wants the government to fast track setting up a Single Enforcement Body for employment rights (something it has already committed to do) so that people have a single point of access where they can go, and to put money into the existing system to ensure people are treated fairly during this unprecedented crisis.  

By way of reminder, selecting someone for redundancy for any of the reasons set out below is potentially discriminatory and should be avoided.  

  • Based on anything connected to someone's disability (such as their absence records) as this can amount to disability discrimination
  • Because the employee is clinically vulnerable as this can amount to disability discrimination (if the reason why the employee is considered vulnerable is because of their disability) or age discrimination (if the reason why the employee is considered vulnerable is because of their age)
  • Because the employee is caring for children or vulnerable adults as this could be considered indirect discrimination on the grounds of sex (as women have borne most of the caring duties whilst schools and nurseries are closed)

If you are going through a redundancy process, make sure it's genuine, you follow a fair process and the criteria you use to select people is also fair. We set out answers to FAQ's about redundancy here. We've also updated our FAQ's about furlough and redundancy here. But, if we've not answered your question, please get in touch.

Our Coronavirus updates

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If you have a query, that we haven't answered, please contact us.