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Issue Date:- 23 December 2008


WITHOUT wanting to add to the consistent wave of negative news surrounding the credit crunch and impending recession, it’s practical and reasonable for all employees of businesses across all industries in the country to be prepared for how an economic downturn could impact them; whether it is a reduction in benefits, straight forward pay cuts, or even at worst case, redundancy. “It won’t happen to me” is a common reaction, and it might not. But if it does, you’ll want to ensure that you have equipped yourself with as much knowledge and information as possible to ensure that you are treated fairly and reasonably and that you get what you are entitled to.

Make no mistake, businesses can and will suffer under poor market conditions and sometimes the only feasible option for their survival is to make jobs redundant. It is difficult for most people not to take it personally as it unavoidably becomes an emotional and distressing experience; but such measures should always stem from a legitimate business decision. Providing the correct procedures are followed, however unpleasant or distressing it is, you can have peace of mind that you weren’t unfairly dismissed. Here are some things to consider if you find yourself in this unfortunate position.

You should have known your job was at risk: If you have just been called into a meeting with your manager and told that you have been made redundant, this should not be the 1st conversation you have ever had about it. You should already have been called to a separate meeting, where your employer should have warned you that your job was at risk. If this hasn’t happened, then it is likely that your employer has not followed the correct procedures and you have the right to appeal against your dismissal and/or decide to take further action at an Employment Tribunal. Your employer should also be consulting with all staff that are likely to be affected by the proposed redundancies in order to discuss options that may be available to them to avoid job losses.

Why did they decide to select you? If you are one of the employees selected for redundancy, did your employer take you through the selection criteria they used for making the decision to let you go? Your employer needs to be able to prove that your role has been made redundant and if it is a matter of reducing head count, they need to confirm to the reasons why you were selected over others in the pool of employees at risk.

Get what you are entitled to: Make sure you have been paid everything you are entitled to. All employees are entitled to be paid all wages owed to them, any holiday that you have accrued but not taken and the appropriate notice pay. Your entitlement to notice pay will be specified in your contract of employment, however, if you do not have a contract or it does not cover this point then your statutory entitlement will be 1 week for every complete year you have been employed with that company up to a maximum of 12 weeks. If you have been employed for over 2 years, then you will also be entitled to a redundancy payment.

Going to tribunal: The cost of privately funding a case if it goes to tribunal can be anything up to £5000 in fees. It is not cheap, but many solicitors will consider working for you under a contingency fee agreement, which means that they will take an agreed percentage of any compensation you recover if you win your case – not if you lose. It is important to note that there are strict time limits for pursuing claims at the Employment Tribunal. As a general rule, you only have 3 months less 1 day in which to make a claim at the Employment Tribunal. There are some exceptions to this rule, however, you should always take advice from a solicitor regarding this point.

What you may recover: There are 2 elements to any damages you may recover if your claim for Unfair Dismissal is successful – the basic award which is calculated in the same way as redundancy pay, and a compensatory award which is largely based on you loss of earnings. If you feel you have been unfairly dismissed – firstly, you will need to have worked for the company for at least one year. You would then need to fill in the necessary forms to take your employer to a tribunal. If any money is still owed to you, you will need to first write a grievance letter and wait 28 days for a response before issuing a claim. If it is ignored and you are still out of pocket you can then take your claim to the employment tribunal. Any earlier, your case would be rejected.

Get legal advice:- Speak to a solicitor if you are serious about taking your case to tribunal. A good solicitor will be able to identify firstly if you have a case, and secondly if you have a good chance of winning. This is vital if you are to avoid incurring legal costs that you will not be able to get back even if you win.

About MTA Solicitors:- Established in 2001, MTA Solicitors provides a wide range of legal services including personal injury, conveyancing, employment, debt, corporate law, general and commercial litigation and dispute resolution (including arbitration), IT and e-commerce, banking and finance, trusts, wills and probate, trust litigation and contentious probate.

MTA Solicitors clients span across many different business sectors in the UK and overseas; including major UK and global insurance companies, domestic and foreign banks, foreign law firms, offshore trustees, transport operators, local authorities, agents and service providers, and individuals.

MTA has offices based in London, Kent and Manchester and employs over 250 lawyers. Please visit:-  for further information.

City praised for keeping children safe

LIVERPOOL City Council’s work to keep children and young people safe has been praised in a new independent report.  The annual performance assessment by OFSTED has rated Liverpool's children's services as ‘good’, with an overall score of 3 out of a possible 4. For the 1st time, Liverpool achieved a grade 3 in all 7 areas of the report.

OFSTED found that Liverpool is safer for children than many other, similar cities, with 72% of young people saying that they feel safe in their everyday lives. The report also found that huge progress has been made in reducing the number of children and young people who offend, with the number of 1st time offenders falling by 10% since 2007.

The council ‘continues to deliver services that are of good quality which result in good and improving outcomes for children and young people.’ The report praises the ‘notable difference’ the council is making to young people’s lives, ‘particularly the most vulnerable’ and the ‘strong drive to narrow the gap between outcomes for children.’

The service is praised for improving educational attainment at a faster pace than nationally - in particular at GCSE level, with Liverpool surpassing for the first time in 2008 the national average for the percentage of pupils achieving A*-C grades.

And the work to improve the health of young people in Liverpool is ‘improving year-on-year’, with the success of the city’s National Healthy Schools scheme highlighted.

Liverpool City Council’s executive member for children, families and adults, Councillor Keith Turner, said:- "We are making good progress in improving the education, health and well-being of the city’s young people, and I’m delighted our achievements over the past 12 months have been recognised by OFSTED.

I’m especially pleased that we have been rated as ‘good’ in all 7 areas of the report. It’s testament to a consistent level of good work, across the board, in a wide range of challenging areas.

We are committed to giving children in Liverpool the best possible start in life, and helping them develop into achieving, healthy and safe individuals. This report shows we are heading in the right direction.”

OFSTED highlights the high proportion of schools in the city which are now judged to be ‘good or better’. It also commends the council’s commitment to inclusion, which have seen school attendances increase and exclusions fall.

And the report praises the strong leadership in the service, partnered with a firm commitment to listen to young people's views - including consultation around the city’s Children and Young People's Plan and Parenting Strategy.

Stuart Smith, executive director for children, families and adults, said:- "Our staff are working really hard to keep young people safe, give them a better education and provide them with every chance to succeed in life – so we are really pleased with this praise from OFSTED.

Receiving a grade 3 rating in every area of the report reflects our commitment to providing high quality services for all children - from our most vulnerable to the highest achievers.

While the report recognises our track record of sustained improvement in all areas, we know there is much still to achieve, and we will continue to build on the work we are doing to create better futures for all our young people.”

Liverpool has been awarded a Grade 3 in the following judgement areas; overall effectiveness; being healthy; being safe; enjoying and achieving; making a positive contribution; achieving economic well-being; and capacity to improve.

It is the 2nd year running that Liverpool’s children services have achieved an overall rating of ‘good’ from OFSTED in its annual report.

Pay levels now outstripping inflation

DESPITE falling inflation, negotiated pay increases have remained steady and have in fact risen slightly on last month’s headline figure. The median (mid-point) pay settlement levels recorded by Labour Research Department’s Payline database rose to 3.9% in the three months to November, a rise of 0.1%. The November Retail Prices Index (RPI) inflation figure was 3.0%. In October the pay settlement level was 3.8% and the RPI was 4.2%.  The three-month pay settlement levels have remained fairly stable throughout the year, despite a small dip last month, while inflation started the year at 4.1%, rose to 5% in July and September, before falling back to its current level.

The Payline figures show a clear difference between the private sector, where the three-month median increase is 4.2%, and the public sector, where it is only 3.0%. There is little difference between manufacturing settlements – a 3.9% increase – and the service sector – 4.0%.

The latest pay figures are published in the December 2008 issue of Workplace Report. The Payline database records details of pay settlements and agreements on terms and conditions negotiated by unions, and holds around 2000 agreements in total
for the whole of the UK economy.

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