The cabinet recently decided that workers who have been laid off will continue to be denied their right to invoke redundancy in certain circumstances until 30 November.
This was a temporary measure put in place by Government as part of Covid-19 emergency.
Under the Redundancy Payments Act 1967, employees who have been laid off for at least four weeks have the right in certain circumstances to demand that their employer make them redundant. The aim of the 1967 legislation was to ensure that workers would not be left in an indefinite “limbo” – where they were neither at work, fully unemployed or available to take up a job elsewhere.
Under the legislation if an employer cannot guarantee 13 weeks of full- time work within four weeks, then the employee automatically becomes entitled to redundancy.
In last March’s Covid-19 emergency legislation, the right to invoke redundancy was suspended – and the latest suspension was due to expire in mid-September. When the pandemic struck, there was huge concern that hundreds of thousands of people could seek to force redundancy – which would have put pressure on the cash flow of businesses, and possibly forced them into insolvency.
The Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys said the continued (its 4th extension) suspension was necessary in order to protect businesses, avoid insolvencies and prevent permanent job losses.
The Minister said additional redundancies would expose businesses to further debt when they were facing considerable trading difficulties and have a serious impact on the potential for a business to recover. She stressed that all other redundancy provisions, including notice periods and a redundancy lump sum to the affected employee, still apply, underpinned by employment rights legislation.
The Minister stated: “It’s important to note that the right to claim redundancy has not been permanently removed. Employees who remain on lay-off or short-time work for the requisite period when this emergency measure expires will be entitled to exercise their right to claim redundancy from their employer.”
The Department of Social Protection has confirmed that while a person may be temporarily laid off from their usual employment, there is no statutory provision in employment legislation which prohibits them from seeking alternative employment.
The Department said it was advised that if an employee chooses to take up other employment when they have been temporarily laid off from their usual employment, and they remain available to resume their employment with their usual employer, their entitlement to redundancy remains intact but deferred to the end of the emergency period.
NB – This is a guide for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have an issue requiring legal advice, please contact any of the team at Nolan Farrell & Goff, whose numbers can be found on our website, www.nfg.ie