When can I ask for voluntary redundancy?

This short article draws on questions we've been asked recently about whether and when you can approach your employer to volunteer for redundancy. 

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    The individuals asking the questions briefly outline the circumstances that led to them considering voluntary redundancy. 

    One of our experienced specialist lawyers then provides their answers to each question.

    If any of the circumstances outlined apply to your own circumstances, they should help you make decisions about what to do next, and also consider your best course of action.

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

    For further information, see the guides listed at the end of this article and have a look at our main redundancy guide as a first step. 


    My job is changing: should I ask for voluntary redundancy?

    I’ve been employed in the service sector for 7 years as a head of department. To begin with, I really enjoyed my work and was treated well by senior management.

    In order to maintain profitability, the company began to make some major changes to its product range – in a direction that I don’t have much knowledge and/or experience of.

    To help with this new development, the company has hired someone suitably qualified to work alongside me, on a part-time fixed contract.

    Since then, my boss has started to be unpleasant towards me and at times makes life quite difficult. I suspect that he would quite like to see the back of me.

    I can also see that this new person would in fact be better suited than me to the changing head of department role.

    Should I run before I’m pushed and offer myself for voluntary redundancy? I want to avoid the hassle of protracted negotiations or legal action and I’m also exploring the feasibility of setting up my own small business.

    Employment lawyer’s answer

    Voluntary redundancy packages usually offer a higher level of financial compensation than those offered with compulsory redundancy.

    That’s because your employer can save a lot of money if their senior management doesn’t have to implement the time-consuming processes associated with compulsory redundancy (see our guide).

    Voluntary action also doesn’t adversely affect the morale [and therefore the performance] of staff left behind.

    If you are certain that additional training won’t get you up to speed for the revised job in the time required and particularly if you want to move on promptly, then this may well be the best way forward for you.

    You may also have a claim for constructive unfair dismissal, given your boss’s unpleasant behaviour towards you.

    You should be prepared to do at least a little negotiating using our guide to settlement negotiations. Firstly work out how much you will need to tide you over until you find a new job or get the business venture you mentioned up and running.

    This is the amount you will ask for by way of a settlement agreement when you make your first offer of voluntary redundancy on a without prejudice basis. And you would be advised not to accept their first counter-offer unless it’s really close to what you need.

    It would also help if you had a card up your sleeve in case they asked you what you would do if they didn’t agree to compensation. You might answer by mentioning a possible claim for constructive dismissal.

    If you don’t want to get involved in negotiations with your employer, you could ask an experienced firm of employment lawyers – like Monaco Solicitors – if they would be willing to negotiate for you.

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    I have been offered reduced pay & hours but not redundancy. What can I do?

    I’ve been working as a bus driver for a bus company for the past 9 years. Now I have found out that they are stopping all their services in a couple of months time.

    The company has not told us/me anything about what is going on. But we believe that they don’t plan to pay redundancy but to give us a job with about 20 hours a week and min wage.

    At present, I have been doing 43.5 hours a week and getting paid 13.50 per hour. Can I ask for redundancy or what rights do I have?

    Thank you

    Employment lawyer’s answer

    Changing your hours and your pay is a fundamental breach of the terms of your contract of employment and in that case, you would be entitled to resign and claim constructive unfair dismissal.

    We suggest you might just mention this to your employers and ask them instead to offer you a fair redundancy package.

    Assuming your company wouldn’t want to fight a constructive unfair dismissal claim battle, they should at least offer you a reasonable deal.  Good luck!


    I’m being bullied at work, can I request voluntary redundancy?

    I have been working for a charity for 9 years, and over the past 18 months, I have been bullied and harassed by my management team.

    I was suspended for 6 months but as there was no evidence to back up claims against me of insubordination, I was told it was harsh, and  I’ve been allowed to return to work.

    However, the abuse has continued and ended with my deputy manager punching the photocopier and aggressively shouting at me in front of a witness.

    I emailed my manager to tell her how I was feeling but she didn’t reply.  I have been off with stress for the past 8 weeks, and have to return this week.

    But as I have a grievance in against management, senior management have taken me out of my usual surroundings, and are putting me in an office in another building to do IT.

    I feel I have no support at all at work, and was thinking of asking for voluntary redundancy (funding is currently uncertain).   What do you think?

    Employment lawyer’s answer

    Yes, if you are being bullied at work you can request voluntary redundancy especially if there are redundancies already being made, and your employer wants people to volunteer.

    If they are not making redundancies then perhaps you could ask to have a ‘protected conversation‘ and simply suggest that you leave under a settlement agreement.

    Perhaps ask to be paid in lieu of notice, with one or two months pay ‘ex gratia‘ (tax-free up to £30,000) on top.

    The reason for the relatively low amount is that bullying claims are hard to prove and in fact, a certain amount of bullying is legally allowed in UK employment law, unfortunately.

    Where it’s been going on for a long time – as in your case – you could be taken to have accepted it.

    So don’t expect a large pay-out.  If you want to achieve the highest amount with the least stress, consider instructing specialist employment lawyers to make the approach for you.

    I am on long term sick leave. Can I ask for redundancy?

    I have been on sick leave for 2 years now and I and my employer know that I can’t return to the job I was doing. Can I ask for redundancy? I have 20 years service with my employer.

    Employment lawyer’s answer

    Yes you can, especially if there is a redundancy exercise going on at work at the moment.

    If not, perhaps it would be best to ask to speak to them ‘without prejudice’ and explore whether they would be happy for you to leave with a settlement agreement.

    This discussion would be off the record. If there are any emails, make sure you mark them with the words ‘without prejudice’. (See our website for articles on ‘without prejudice‘.) Good luck.

    How can I get help to negotiate a redundancy package?

    It’s easy to find out if we can either represent you or offer other affordable services. Just click the link to get started.

    If you’re unhappy at work and are thinking of asking your employers to make you redundant, read around the topic as much as you can to get better informed. Also, try our calculator to see how much you should ask for as an exit settlement.