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Acas redundancy rules

Acas is the U.K. Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service.

It publishes redundancy guidelines to help employers and their workers understand rights and obligations.

Acas redundancy guidelines apply to workers if they are made redundant on a permanent basis, temporarily or in the form of short-time work. Acas is funded by the U.K. government but operates as an independent organisation, free to make its own decisions.


Acas defines a layoff as when workers are told to stay away from work on a temporary basis.

Workers may be entitled to a payout if a layoff ends in permanent dismissal. Employees can appeal on grounds of unfair dismissal if they feel they have been wrongfully dismissed. Employers can lay off workers under two circumstances; if there is a contractual agreement between workers and their bosses or if the employer can show that they have the right to do so under established customs and practice. Alternatively, workers and employers can agree to change terms of contract on a temporary basis to enable layoffs. Employers can lay off workers without pay when a contract stipulates this is allowed. Workers may be entitled to "statutory guarantee payments" up to a maximum of five days in any three-month period. Workers can claim Jobseekers Allowance on any day they are not paid by their employer during a layoff.

Short-Time Working

When workers are laid off for a number of hours each day, or a certain amount of contracted days each week, it is defined as short-time working. Employers must abide by the same rules for layoffs. Unions and workers usually agree to short time work as an alternative to redundancies, according to Acas. Employees may have the right to claim Jobseekers Allowance when they are on short-time work. Workers are allowed to make a claim for a redundancy payment from their employer if they are laid off or put on short-time work for four weeks in a row, or six weeks in a 13-week period.

Redundancy Procedure

Permanent redundancy is defined in different ways under U.K. employment law, according to Acas. Redundancy takes place in circumstances such as when workers lose their jobs after a business ceases trading, or when a business no longer trades from the place it was located in or if there is no longer a need for the job a worker was engaged in. Acas advises employers to set down systems for the way they handle redundancies. Acas recommends one of three options: an ad-hoc approach, a formal policy or a formal agreement with unions or employees.

Employers should consult with workers when they draw up a redundancy procedure, Acas advises. Employers should outline how they intend to minimise redundancies; they are urged to list severance terms and they are advised to help workers retrain or find alternative work.

Making Redundancies

Employers should speak to workers before making them redundant, Acas advises. This can help workers and unions suggest alternatives to redundancy. Employers must consult workers by law if they intend to make redundant 20 or more workers in a period of 90 days or less. Selection of workers to be dismissed should be fair and objective, Acas advises. Employers must not use discriminatory measures to select workers for redundancy. Managers are urged to instigate an appeals process and help former workers find new employment.