What are our legal rights when made redundant?

Some great legal advice on redundancy.

With huge national companies like Woolworths and Telstra announcing job cuts and the redeployment of thousands of workers, job security is becoming a major issue in Australia.

If restructures or redundancies happened in your workplace, would you know what your rights are?

There are important things you need to ask if you are being made redundant.

In some situations a redundancy can be challenged as an unfair dismissal claim under the Fair Work Act and there are some important things you need to ask:

  • Has your employer consulted you as required under the relevant modern award or enterprise agreement? This can include giving you information about the proposed changes, considering alternative proposals you put forward (reduced hours or job sharing).
  • Is it the case that your job no longer needs to be done by someone because of operational changes? (For example a reduction in work or a change to how the work is performed.) Ask your employer “why is my role no longer needed”?
  • Ask if there is an opportunity for you to be redeployed within the organisation – taking into account your experience, skills and qualifications and the requirements of the alternate role. Tell your employer that you are interested in working elsewhere in the organisation.

The answers to these questions will help determine if the redundancy is genuine under unfair dismissal laws.

Getting the answers in writing from your employer will help.

You are able to ask for time to consider any proposal put to you and ask to take a support person along to a meeting.

If the reasons given for your redundancy appear to be discriminatory – such as age or gender – that is unlawful under the Fair Work Act’s general protections.

If you wish to challenge a redundancy, contact the Fair Work Commission immediately as you only have 21 days from the date of dismissal to lodge an unfair dismissal application disputing it.

The National Employment Standards set out minimum redundancy entitlements, but some employees have an entitlement over and above that in a modern award, enterprise agreement or their contract of employment.  You should also check whether your employer has a redundancy policy.

Redundancy payments are based on continuous years of service with your employer. This will be paid in addition to any notice of termination period and outstanding annual or long service leave entitlements.

Some larger employers will offer assistance with further training or financial advice.

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