My boss said I didn't qualify for redundancy because of a career break

It started when I was called into a meeting and told by my boss that I was being made redundant.

I wasn't too upset about it. I knew the company had been struggling. What shocked me was that I vaguely knew there was supposed to be a redundancy 'review' sort of time period and this wasn't offered.

Also, I was told I wasn't eligible for redundancy pay because they said that a year I had 'taken off' to live in another country counted as an 'end and restart' to my employment rather than a 'sabbatical' or 'break in employment' and since I'd only been back in employment with them for under 2 years I wasn't eligible for redundancy. I had worked with them since 2009 and the break in employment was after 5 years solid work. I definitely thought there was something fishy about that.

So I looked at Gov.UK's page about redundancy and spoke with my dad and we went to see an employment lawyer.

The employment lawyer confirmed that there should have been a period of consultation where they covered any alternatives to redundancy, which didn't happen. And the employment lawyer also confirmed that the year of living abroad counted as a 'break in employment' for a number of reasons (even though I had been issued a P45) including:

1. They had arranged a year long temporary replacement for my position while I was away.

2. My boss had referred to it as a 'sabbatical' in an email to me.

3. My boss had emailed me while I was living abroad saying that they were reissuing contracts and they were making sure all rights continued from the very beginning of employment.

In the end I got 7 years equivalent of redundancy pay which was 7 weeks pay capped at a certain amount. I also got 8 weeks of notice of which I waived 4 weeks because I didn't want to work it and I didn't want them to have to pay me for it.

Looking back, definitely get advice whether it is from a lawyer (if you can afford it) or do some research- the Gov.uk site is really clear and easy to understand. Or maybe even go to Citizen's Advice - even if you don't think anything is fishy just do a wee bit of research.

Also- once you get advice from a lawyer with exactly what you have a right to receive it might be worth going back to your employer (if you have a good relationship with them) and discussing it with them... to prevent lawyer fees and bad blood. I was on really good terms with my boss and once the legal letter was issued I soured that relationship, but on the other hand I had it all in writing that the lack of consultation process meant that they were liable for 'unfair dismissal' and I got the full redundancy pay.

Here's who helped me: Morag Dalziel at McGrade + Co. Employment Lawyers

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