Redundancy rights for disabled workers

The Equality Act 2010 protects people from discrimination in the workplace. It defines a disabled person as someone with a “physical or mental impairment, and the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on [their] ability to carry out normal day to day activities”.

What are your rights?

Your employer has to follow a fair redundancy process if you’ll have worked for them for at least 2 years by the time your job ends.

You should be invited to at least 1 individual meeting with your employer to discuss redundancy.

Your employer can’t discriminate against you when they are deciding whether to make you redundant. You can’t be chosen for redundancy just because you’re disabled. The selection process for redundancy must be fair and balanced for all employees. Your employer also cannot force you to retire if you become disabled.

For example, it’s disability discrimination if your employer chooses you because you’ve taken the most sick leave, but your sickness was connected to a disability. There are particular requirements when your employer is considering a redundancy situation to make sure that disabled people are not being placed at a disadvantage for reasons relating to their disability. Where necessary, the employer should make reasonable adjustments to the criteria and process.

A better approach would be for the employer to exclude disability-related absence from the absence criteria which is used to score employees.

In addition, if any of the employees selected for potential redundancy are disabled, the employer should make ‘reasonable adjustments’ if these are needed to remove barriers the employee faces which a non-disabled person would not face. What this means is that the employer must first consider what adjustments would remove the barriers for the worker and second, if they are reasonable adjustments, the employer should make them.

For example:

A manufacturer is making some employees redundant. One of the criteria for redundancy is whether someone can operate every machine on the employer’s production line. A disabled person cannot operate one of the machines because of the nature of their impairment. The employer decides it is a reasonable adjustment to the criterion to adjust the employee’s mark so as to ignore the absence of that machine, so they score the same as a worker who has operated that machine to a satisfactory standard.

For example:

A worker has a learning disability and the employer is offering voluntary redundancy. The employer provides the worker with the information in Easy Read formats and makes sure that someone suitable spends time explaining the options to the worker.

Whether or not your redundancy is fair, you should also check that you get your correct notice period and if you’ve been working for your employer for at least 2 years by the time you leave, you should also get redundancy pay and paid time off to look for work.

Equality Impact Assessments

Any time your employer is making a change that impacts the workforce, you can ask them to undertake an Equality Impact Assessment (EIA). EIAs are only compulsory for the public sector but are an important tool for all employers to ensure that their decisions do not adversely impact one particular group of workers. This is particularly prevalent with redundancies and employers should be especially careful to ensure redundancies are selected fairly. You can learn more about EIAs by checking out our guide here.

If you need further advice on issues not covered in this factsheet, please contact Community’s service centre on servicecentre@community-tu.org or 0800 389 6332.