‘Last in first out’ redundancies

As the HR Manager may say – “unfortunately, as you’re aware, the company has to be making cut backs. As you’re the newest member of staff we have decided to make you redundant – last in, first out”.What is wrong with that?

Using this approach to redundancies can often appear to be the easiest option. However this could mean losing your youngest members of staff, since a younger person could be the last person in. Double dutch? 

Using length of service as the only criteria in selecting redundancies risks being regarded as discriminatory under the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006. This has been held to be the case in a recent Court of Appeal decision.

The best way to avoid any issues is to use a selection of criteria and to follow proper redundancy procedures. There is nothing preventing you from using length or service as one of many criteria in making your decisions, but we would advise against using it as a decisive factor, or informing the employee that your decision has been made on that basis. Not only are there commercial benefits to taking more aspects into consideration (e.g. would you want to lose your best sales consultant because he/she was last in?), but it can help prevent you falling foul of the law.

For further advice on this issue and assessment of your own redundancy procedures, contact Lawspeed on 01273 236 236.