With news of jobs cuts across the public sector, including a reported loss of 600 jobs at our local Blackburn with Darwin council, redundancies are very much headline news.  But with recent figures released from the Tribunals Service and Ministry of Justice reporting an increase in the number of employment tribunals being brought in cases of redundancy pay and unfair dismissal, businesses need to ensure they follow procedures to reduce the risk of ex-employees bringing claims against them.

The Tribunal Service figures show an overall increase of 50% in the number of claims accepted at Tribunals from April 2009 to the end of March 2010 compared to the previous twelve months. Unfair dismissal, redundancy pay and breach of contract claims are cited as the areas showing the biggest increases, perhaps indicating that companies are failing to follow the due redundancy procedure.

The increases also indicate that in these fragile economic times, ex-employees who are perhaps struggling to find new employment, are more likely to bring tribunal proceedings in relation to their employment disputes and in an attempt to recover compensation and monies they are owed.

Either way, employers need to be extremely careful when considering making redundancies and ensure that steps such as early consultation with employees, and taking evidence of fair selection, are taken.

Different timeframes also apply when making redundancies on a group scale, this being dependent on the number of redundancies that are being made.

Employers need to be wary that employment tribunals can result in heavy fines and damages being awarded to ex-employees if set procedures are not followed. And if numerous employees are involved in redundancies, the cost of any claims made against employers could easily mount up.