Forced Redundancy in Academia - Do I have a Legal Case?

In late September 2020, I have started a part time position as an Associate Lecturer at one of the prestigious Russel group universities, where I was enrolled on a sort of rolling contract, working several hours a week. So right about now would be exactly 2 calendar years since I started work there.

Earlier this year, around winter  / early spring, t he course administrators of the programme I was lecturing on decided that the academic year 21-22 would be the last year the programme is running due to low student intake. As a consequence, I would be involuntarily redundant from this summer 2022.  I was not "officially" notified of this termination by HR, course management or anyone else. I only found out purely BY ACCIDENT around April (or May) time that this is the case, from an email exchange by the course administrator, when I emailed them asking about the timetable for the new September term, to which they responded by saying that the programme is terminated!

Again, purely by chance, two of my academic colleagues who were teaching on this programme also discovered around same time as me that they are being made involuntary redundant. Again, absolutely NO FORMAL NOTIFICATION from university about termination of programme and hence redundancy.

 These two colleagues have kicked up a stink over a lack of care by university and failure of HR to follow a proper redundancy procedure, and over the last few months initiated a lengthy series of complaints and discussions with HR, and representatives of the universities union. These colleagues were employed by the university for well over 2 years already, so they had "full" employee rights. I was also involved in this as one of the affected employees. The outcome for these colleagues is that in the end they were either compensated for the loss of income, or redeployed in some capacity by the university (as far as I know). However, the HR advised that since I was employed by less than 2 years, they will not compensate me in any way for the loss of income. There was some effort last month (August) on their part to redeploy me in another department after much complaints from me, but these attempts proved unsuccessful (simply no available positions).

Since then, despite a number of repeat email from me to HR and to representatives of Universities Union, there has been a wall of silence. It looks like they decided to cleanse their hands off me and leave me to fend for myself. And thus far, still absolutely no formal written notice from HR that the programme has been terminated and that I am redundant. 

Please, advise me what would be my rights in this case and what could steps could I take. 
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  • mjm3346
    mjm3346 Posts: 46,849
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    edited 26 September 2022 at 10:26PM
    Less than 2 years in and generally it is quite easy for employers to let someone go  (don't think there was any requirement for them to involve you in the consultation process) - any hint of discrimination in what they have done?
  • mjm3346 said:
    Less than 2 years in and generally it is quite easy for employers to let someone go  (don't think there was any requirement for them to involve you in the consultation process) - any hint of discrimination in what they have done?
    There isn't any discrimination in what they have done (or not done) to me specifically. The fact is that they haven't informed officially, in due course, the other 2 employees who were were at the university for over 2 years either that they were being let go. And this was the main point of these  2 (and mine) employees appeal - that the proper guidelines were not followed and it was a total failure of HR / management to handle this situation. The representatives of the university staff union totally agreed with this notion. It's as if the management simply let the employees find out for themselves that they were going to be redundant, and were not planning to offer any sort of redundancy package at all.

    The problem is that these 2 employees in the end management to get some sort of redundancy compensation from HR after threatening sort sort of legal action, while I am ending up with nothing. And the fact is that as I am writing this, it is 2 calendar years since I've started my position, give a couple of days. My work email is still active, and I still haven't got any formal notice of redundancy.

    Surely I can make a case for some kind of failure of management to follow redundancy procedures / duty of care too? Given that now it's 2 years?
  • Are you a trade union member? 
    If so, get in contact with your union asap and they will advise you on what options are available to you & make you aware of the practical support that they offer to members in your situation.

    If not, consult an experienced employment lawyer as soon as possible. 
    I remember that Redmans offer a free 20-minute employment law consultation and Atkinson Rose usually have a no win no fee option available. 

    You are yet to receive formal notice of redundancy so it is possible that the uni may be planning to offer alternative roles elsewhere or rehire. 
    Likely with lower pay rates or an increased workload.
    Some of unis I've studied seem to have a habit of doing that. 
  • Voyager2002
    Voyager2002 Posts: 15,219
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    There are so many aspects of your situation that might be interpreted one way or the other by a tribunal that this forum is unlikely to give you useful advice. See a solicitor practicing in the area of employment law: ideally your union (UCU?) will pay for this, or perhaps your home insurance includes legal cover?

    One firm that I happen to know works in public-sector employment law is Invicta (see below): I know nothing about how good they are so am not in a position to give a recommendation.

    Invicta Law Ltd – 1 Abbey Wood Road – Kings Hill – West Malling - ME19 4YT
    t: 01622 392 000 - General Office/Reception

    http://www.invicta.law/

  • mjm3346
    mjm3346 Posts: 46,849
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    With less than 2 years they can terminate your employment and redundancy does not come into play, they would need something for the other 2 employees who have over 2 years employment
  • mjm3346 said:
    With less than 2 years they can terminate your employment and redundancy does not come into play, they would need something for the other 2 employees who have over 2 years employment
    In reply to your earlier post the OP said...

    And the fact is that as I am writing this, it is 2 calendar years since I've started my position, give a couple of days. My work email is still active, and I still haven't got any formal notice of redundancy.

    So it seems they now do have two years service. Statutory notice (1 week) also counts towards the two years but any longer contractual notice does not (but must still be paid).

  • jon81uk
    jon81uk Posts: 3,749
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    You stated it was a "sort of rolling contract" but did you contract state you were employed indefinitely or did it have a fixed end date.
    If the contract end date was less than two years from when you started then I don't see why you would expect anything.
  • jon81uk said:
    You stated it was a "sort of rolling contract" but did you contract state you were employed indefinitely or did it have a fixed end date.
    If the contract end date was less than two years from when you started then I don't see why you would expect anything.
    If the OP is still employed and the two year point has been crossed (which is how I read the post) then he is entitled to consultation and at least statutory redundancy.
  • Andy_L
    Andy_L Posts: 12,735
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    Since then, despite a number of repeat email from me to HR and to representatives of Universities Union, there has been a wall of silence. It looks like they decided to cleanse their hands off me and leave me to fend for myself. And thus far, still absolutely no formal written notice from HR that the programme has been terminated and that I am redundant. 

    Please, advise me what would be my rights in this case and what could steps could I take. 
    Are they still paying you? If they are then you just keep turning up to work & wait for them to get their act together

    Assuming they aren't then your rights were to consultation (which, since they've made "some effort ... to redeploy me in another department ... but these attempts proved unsuccessful" has probably been done) and, at least, statutory notice & redundancy (which again, isn't much for just 2 years service)
  • jon81uk
    jon81uk Posts: 3,749
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    jon81uk said:
    You stated it was a "sort of rolling contract" but did you contract state you were employed indefinitely or did it have a fixed end date.
    If the contract end date was less than two years from when you started then I don't see why you would expect anything.
    If the OP is still employed and the two year point has been crossed (which is how I read the post) then he is entitled to consultation and at least statutory redundancy.
    But they would only be currently employed if on an indefinite contract?

    Whereas if they were employed only to teach for 2020-21 and then again for 2021-22 I would expect there to be an end date each time.
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