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Ask the Legal Expert: Advice on making redundancies

View profile for Sophie Ray
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Associate Employment Solicitor and HR Professional at JCP Solicitors,Sophie Ray, advises a farmer on making redundancies. 

I plan to move out of dairy farming so, regrettably, I have to make my herdsman redundant.  He’s lived in a tied cottage with a written contract for seven years and I will need him to move out, but I don’t want conflict. How should I proceed?

This is, I’m sure, a sad time for you and you have a number of complex processes to go through.

To avoid the risk of a claim for unfair dismissal, you must give employees a fair reason and follow a clear redundancy process. Clearly, since you are exiting the industry, redundancies are inevitable.

As part of a formal process you must consult your employee in person to discuss why you’re making his role redundant and to consider any alternatives. Invite him to this meeting by letter and let him know he’s entitled to be accompanied by a colleague or a representative. It is wise to take detailed notes of what is discussed at such meetings.

Once you have observed a period of consultation and considered your employee’s point of view, meet him again to confirm the date of his redundancy in writing, detailing his notice entitlement, any untaken holiday pay and his statutory redundancy payment. Under the Employment Rights Act 1996, staff who have been employed for two years qualify for statutory redundancy pay.

Your herdsman will almost certainly have security of tenure and you cannot just require him to leave his tied accommodation without having valid grounds for possession. This is something you should seek detailed advice on. In reality, since he may want to find another position, and perhaps to relocate, this may not cause an issue. If he refuses to leave the cottage you may have to obtain possession through a court order, if you can show grounds. You should not put pressure on him or force him to vacate the property, to do so can amount to a criminal offence.

Dealing with redundancies can be complex, not least because there are emotions at play on both sides. However, it is important to seek professional legal advice so you follow proper procedures and avoid an employment tribunal.

For specialist legal advice contact Sophie Ray on 01267 266944 or email sophie.ray@jcpsolicitors.co.uk

The question posed is based upon a hypothetical situation. Welsh is spoken in the Rural Practice Team at JCP Solicitors.