Does my redundancy have to be kept confidential?

We are frequently asked questions about aspects of redundancy so we’ve grouped selections of similar questions into different redundancy articles for the website. 

In this article, the questions are about whether or not you can/should discuss with colleagues any redundancy package that you have been offered, even though your employer says that the offer only stands if you keep quiet about it and don’t discuss it with colleagues.  

The questions take the form of mini case studies, with a brief outline of the work circumstances of the employee asking the question, followed by the answer to the question given by one of our specialist employment lawyers. 

If your redundancy situation is similar to any of those outlined, then the questions and answers should help you make decisions about what you can/should do next.  

Where a word or phrase is highlighted, you can click on it to view a related article on our website.  

For more information about aspects of redundancy, see the guides listed at the end of this article. If you want to learn more about redundancy and redundancy processes, then you might like to have a look at our main Redundancy guide as a first step. 

My job is at risk, but I’ve been told not to discuss it. What should I do?

My job has been put at risk and my employer has stated that they ‘require me to keep it confidential’. I do not think this is fair as I need advice from colleagues etc. I have obviously told friends and family but not my direct reports. I have not had any offer as yet from my employer. What should I do?

Employment lawyer’s answer

This is a grey area and more governed by your employment contract rather than the law itself. Don’t mention it to your junior employees. If you really need advice from colleagues, perhaps quietly mention it to your peers or seniors, but ask them to keep it confidential first. And keep it off the email account. Your employer could try to argue that by discussing it, that is misconduct.

Am I allowed to speak to colleagues about my redundancy?

My colleague and I were told that we were being made redundant and to keep it confidential from any third party. I discussed it with a colleague who I worked closely with who was shocked to hear it. None of the other staff had even been consulted or notified let alone any selection criteria set out.

Also I have a text message from the boss, which I think is blackmail, saying that if I tell anyone of my redundancy I will not get a reference. I am deeply upset at the way I have been treated so I have spoken to other colleagues and my friends and family as I need their support. Am I breaking confidentiality doing this?

Employment lawyer’s answer

There is no legal obligation upon you to keep your redundancy secret, it is just something that your employer has asked you to do. Of course, if you are definitely being made redundant then it does not matter if you talk about it – the worst that could happen is that you could be dismissed.

It does sound unfair to threaten to refuse to give you a reference, but what can you do? It may be better either to forget about the reference from them or to keep your head down. So long as you are discreet, ask any colleagues to keep the discussion confidential and keep it off emails, it would be hard for them to know who you have told anyway.

I’ve been offered more redundancy pay if I leave quietly. What should I do?

I have worked for the same charity for 13 years in a senior management position. Today the Director, out of the blue, offered me a settlement agreement with an ‘enhanced’ redundancy package, plus a verbal promise of regular work as a consultant once the employment relationship was terminated. If I go quietly they will pay me more money than the statutory redundancy payment (ie £19k instead of £9k), but f I don’t, then everyone will have to go through a redundancy process.

There has been no discussion about redundancy and in fact the Director not long ago reassured everyone that no jobs were under threat. I have recently had a difficult working relationship with my boss and during the discussion, he said I had been at the organisation too long and it was time to step aside in the management role but they still wanted me to do project work in my key area of expertise.

Where do I stand? My preference is to negotiate for a new job within the revised structure since there is a clear need for the role, albeit with shorter hours, but I have not been offered any alternatives. This has come at the worst time possible as I have recently taken on a mortgage on a property to house my elderly parents and I therefore need regular and secure income.

Employment lawyer’s answer

This is a difficult area, so unless we have more details, we can only give you general guidance.

Companies can make employees redundant and then hire them as consultants, but they need to be careful doing this so that it doesn’t look like a tax dodge.

Regarding their treatment of you, as this all appears to be off the record so far, there is nothing here that you could use against them in an employment tribunal (unless there is a discrimination element, which removes the confidential nature of such discussions).

If you did want to leave the job and wanted us to help, we would try to negotiate for you and also use the stick of telling them that you are happy to stay and go through the redundancy process. If you really do want to stay, then you should go through the redundancy process and try to keep your job that way.

 

Could your redundancy be unfair? We can help you.

Next steps

If you’ve been offered a redundancy package by your employer but told not to talk about it with colleagues, then you have to consider why they are asking you to keep quiet and whether you are getting a good deal or not.

If you want advice on what’s being offered, get in touch with Monaco Solicitors. Their specialist employment lawyers are experts at advising employees like you on redundancy issues and accustomed to negotiating the best redundancy deals on your behalf.

Our services are highly competitive and flexible, so get in touch to discuss your case:

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