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WWYD - redundancy, take the money or risk a tribunal?

(14 Posts)
CrustardCream Wed 07-Nov-12 11:55:35


Long story but I was made redundant on return from maternity leave due to a general cut in head count. My tasks have been farmed out to other colleagues (as they had been for the duration of my maternity leave) with no selection process to determine who did the available jobs. My role had 'gone' so I was made redundant and given statutory redundancy pay. I am currently appealing the decision as i do feel strongly that this was all unfair but there is no way that will change anything.

The company has also separately offered me £8000 as a good will gesture if I sign a compromise agreement now. This is absolutely not because they think I might have a case, it purely is because I am out of pocket by £12k for the costs of childcare arrangements put in place to enable me to return to work. And the £8k is a contribution to the costs I have had to pay, which is quite responsible of them on some levels.

Don't want to say too much to potentially identify myself but I do feel I have been disadvantaged by taking maternity leave. Plus a key factor in all of this was the recruitment of somebody with similar skills to me in a more senior position while I was on mat leave. I wasn't given a chance to apply for this role and without this person in place, the company would be less inclined to lose me.

I have spoken to a solicitor who feels i do have a case to take this further, but then they would say that wouldn't they? Also I was part of the company's senior management team so know that my old employer's attitude is that they are happy to take risky decisions and push the boundaries despite an employees objections. they will only seriously consider an employees complaints if an employment tribunal form is received, then they would push for a pre-tribunal hearing and do everything possible to get the case thrown out. But if a case makes it past the pre-hearing, the company would want to settle before the full tribunal.

As with all things the bottom line is money. I accept that my job has gone and am glad to be rid of such an aggressive employer but i do need to look out for my family's interests and protect my ability to seek new employment. It might take me 6 months plus to get a new job and if I can't afford to keep my kids in nursery in the meantime, I will lose their places and doubt I will then be in a position to accept full time employment for a long time to come. Nursery waiting lists are long and childminders hard to come by in my area. So I need to come away from this with at a minimum enough cash to maintain nursery places (£3k pm for 2 DCs) for the next 6 months at least.

What would you do, take the £8000 tax free and cut your losses or hold out for more down the tribunal route and potentially come away with a lot of stress but nothing to show for it.

NatashaBee Wed 07-Nov-12 11:59:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CrustardCream Wed 07-Nov-12 12:10:40

If the offer was more like £15k I would be more tempted, as you say to avoid the long drawn out tribunal process. But £8k will only pay for 2.5 months of nursery fees, so isn't going to help very much. I doubt I will find a job in that time. I fear I will end up in the same position whichever route I choose.

It's so unfair that an employer can ignore your legal rights and rely on the fact you will be too cash strapped as a result to take them to a tribunal. Makes me really cross.

But I need to be objective, not cross...counting to 10 now angry

NatashaBee Wed 07-Nov-12 14:28:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

prh47bridge Wed 07-Nov-12 15:01:45

I note you say they are offering a compromise agreement. Basically that means you agree not to take them to tribunal in return for some compensation. The payout from the employer would normally be less than you might get from a tribunal. After all, if you go to tribunal you might lose whereas the payout from a compromise agreement is guaranteed.

Such an agreement is always binding on the employer but it is only binding on you if you get proper independent legal advice. Your employer should pay your reasonable legal costs to ensure that happens. If they do not it is open to you to sign the agreement, take their money and then launch an employment tribunal claim to see if you can get more.

If you have been made redundant immediately on return from maternity leave (or shortly after return) I think you may have a claim for sex discrimination. That would be worth a lot more than £8k.

You distrust the advice from your solicitor on the grounds that "they would say that, wouldn't they". The short answer is no, they wouldn't. If they give you poor advice to encourage you to spend money on a claim where you have no chance of winning you would have cause for action against the solicitor.

Find a solicitor who specialises in employment law and trust the advice they give. Personally, I would regard your employer's current offer as their starting point but, if I were you, I would be looking for a much bigger payout.

CrustardCream Wed 07-Nov-12 17:53:43

prh47bridge, sorry I didn't mean to cause offence, I do trust the solicitor's advice, she was an employment specialist. what I meant was it's easy for the solicitor to say you have a case but it's not them being taken through a stressful and personal process that may result in you getting nothing at all.

I did go back to them on the 8k offer but was firmly told that it was not for negotiation and was purely a goodwill gesture they would not be increasing.

detoxdiva Wed 07-Nov-12 18:20:33

Well I would risk the tribunal. They appear to have blatantly ignored correct procedure and based on what you've said you have a very strong argument for sex discrimination. It makes me so angry when employers think they can treat people like this so my opinion is purely on the basis of not accepting that kind of treatment. I would get some detailed legal advice and make your decision based on that.

StillSquiffy Wed 07-Nov-12 18:56:02

Sounds to me as if the number of employees before you went on Maternity is same as number of employees still in company now that you've been pushed out (just that you've been switched for someone else), so may be difficult for them to claim a genuine redundancy situation in the first place - the work hasn't disappeared, the business hasn't slowed down and the number of staff is back to same level as before you went on ML. This means that prima facie there is a potential case for unfair dismissal and sex discrim. Once that's established as a possibility it is up to the company to prove it wasn't this. Which I imagine they may find it difficult to do - unless they can prove that getting rid of you had nothing to do with you taking ML and being a mum.

It would be a different situation if they made lots of headcount cuts at the same time - that would really weaken a claim.

So strength of case depends on the exact circs and only a specialist lawyer can advise. If I were you I would say no to this initial offer and speak to a lawyer.

As a rough guess and if they were definitely on shaky grounds, I would expect them to settle just before tribunal date at around 6-9 months salary. But a lawyer would be able to advise on this too (I am basing my estimate on v limited info as am not a lawyer myself).

prh47bridge Wed 07-Nov-12 20:17:54

I hadn't taken any offence! Sorry if you thought I had.

Personally I would ignore their statement that their current offer is final. The one time I was offered a compromise agreement my employer's first offer was allegedly "final". My solicitor told them I would not sign the agreement on that basis and that we would see them in tribunal. After thinking about it they came up with a much better offer.

hermioneweasley Wed 07-Nov-12 21:48:21

Whether the amout is worth not taking action depends on your earnings. Also, is the £8k in addition to stat redundancy and your notice period. Going to tribunal is expensive, time consuming, stressful and can take approx a year to get your case heard, so something best avoided.

I don't know your length of service or seniority or anything else, but in the situation you've outlined, I would expect 3-6months compensation plus redundancy and notice, as it sounds like there is a case to be answered which will be time consuming and expensive for them to defend.

Agree with all the advice prh47 has given about the process, legal fees etc.

CrustardCream Thu 08-Nov-12 14:00:08

Thanks everyone.

There have been other head count cuts but I am the only one in my work area and the other cuts have been due to combining departments - all of which does not affect me. Workload in my area has actually increased not decreased.

Most cuts have been in sales related areas - i am not in sales. I do know that all departments were asked to make savings but I do think I have been picked on as an easy option without much thought or objective process. The easy thing to do was get rid of me because I was on maternity leave so my work was already being covered without me actually being there.

Hermione i am fairly senior, have been employed more than 5 years and earn(ed) a good salary with excellent benefits. They will be paying me my notice period in addition to stat. pay and the offer of £8k. Another 3 to 6 months salary would pay my kids nursery fees for a year with cash left over to cover the mortgage, so it would make a big difference.

I think I will be getting my solicitor to write to them, then making a decision based on their response.

NuclearStandoff Thu 08-Nov-12 21:04:37

I have just been through a very similar situation. I used my lawyer to advise me what I might reasonably expect as a settlement from a tribunal, and used that to negotiate the initial offer of a compromise agreement upwards. I was able to get my employer to double their initial offer (not including the notice period and stat pay) but it was hard work and unpleasant.
I think I got a good result in the end.
Good luck with what you do, be tough, it will be worth it. remember they won't want to take a chance on losing an employment tribunal either - and they also have their 'reputation' to protect which has a cash value.

blueshoes Thu 08-Nov-12 21:23:13

Are you in a small industry where if you take your employer to tribunal word will get out and harm your re-employment chances?

CrustardCream Thu 08-Nov-12 22:17:44

Thanks for the advice Nuclear it's great to hear you can come out the other side of this horrible situation positively.

blueshoes i am employed in a big (revenue wise) market but it is a relatively small world and people working in my area of expertise are relatively few and well connected, so word is likely to get out. I am very well known in my field and well respected and regarded by my peers and customers while my boss is very poorly regarded. Most of my peers have seen his poor behaviour first hand and know he is a chauvinist so are not at all surprised by what has happened to me. I am hoping that they will be sympathetic and a tribunal wouldn't reflect badly on me, but there's no real way to be sure how it might affect me.

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