Thousands of Australians were made redundant during the COVID-19 pandemic and many more will encounter this form of job loss throughout their career.
A redundancy is where an employer no longer requires an employee's position to be performed by anyone because of genuine changes in the business, usually due to economic conditions or business downturn.
Principal lawyer at Jewell Hancock Employment Lawyers Andrew Jewell told ACM that while being made redundant could feel like a professional blow, it would not tarnish your reputation.
"Of course it can be a blow when they say you're no longer required. But just from a reputational perspective, in Australia this is actually not considered that bad," Mr Jewell said.
"Because it's what we call a no fault termination, you're not being dismissed because of poor performance or conduct, you're being dismissed because the role itself is no longer required.
"Most employers will look at that almost positively and say, well, you're out of work, but it's pretty easy explanation as to why."
Employers must provide the minimum notice period outlined in the National Employment Standards - how long this is for you will depend on how long you've been with the company.
Mr Jewell said the first step is to check your pay entitlements and ensure you receive the full payment you're owed.
"So step one is finding out where your redundancy entitlement is, and then just doing a calculation as to whether they are proposing a lawful payment," he said.
The amount payable is calculated at your base rate for ordinary hours worked. The total amount is based on your length of continuous service with the employer.
Casuals, independent contractors, trainees and apprentices are generally not entitled to receive a redundancy payment.
In some cases, redundancies are unlawful, and employees have the legal right to challenge their dismissal.
Common instances of unfair dismissal include when a person is made redundant for taking maternity leave, for their age, or for a disability.
"So you see a lot of cases where, for example, someone might be on parental leave and get made redundant, or they might be injured and get bedridden, or they might feel that their age, or their gender contributed, or maybe an exercise of workplace rights was a motivation for the redundancy," Mr Jewell said.
If you want to challenge your redundancy, you may be eligible to bring an application to the Fair Work Commission under unfair dismissal or general protections laws.
Employees only have 21 days to make an unfair dismissal claim or general protections application with the Fair Work Commission.
"It's important to be within the 21 day timeframe, it's important to assess, determine and hopefully make a decision about the best claim to make.
"And it's not a particularly large financial commitment at the start, but if you are going to go to a hearing that can get complicated, so you want to get advice about resolution and costs and risks," Mr Jewell said.
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Redundancy could also be a difficult time for employers. Mr Jewell said in his experience the best way to navigate the process of letting people go is to operate with compassion, care and clarity.
"Sometimes I think businesses want to hold back or hold their cards close to their chest. But we get a lot of clients who just say, I really just wish I knew what was going on," he said.
"A lot of employees tell us the thing they're most upset about is that they just didn't know, they just weren't told.
"So actually it's not just following the legal requirements, but going that one step more and saying we're going to keep you involved in the process."
Businesses have a legal requirement to consult with their employees during the redundancy process.
Larger business will often provide outplacement services to facilitate career transition. This could involve an external consultant helping to work on a CV, look at where your skills are best placed and find potential job opportunities.
"That can be very helpful for people who have been employed for a very long period of time and haven't done a resume 20 years," Mr Jewell said.
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