Should you consider taking voluntary redundancy?

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Julian Cole

Senior Solicitor

Phone 01264 353411


There are few statements more likely to take the wind out of an employee’s sails than ‘Your position is at risk of redundancy’.

The prospect of losing a job and a steady flow of income can hit people extremely hard. Sadly, it’s something we are seeing fairly regularly in today’s climate; more and more clients are coming to us for early advice on a letter they’ve received from their employer, or to ask us to help make sure they will get the redundancy package they are entitled to. These clients are extremely concerned about the effects that redundancy could have on them, their families and their future.

That is one side of the story. The other is that redundancy can be a positive thing for some people. If you are not particularly happy in your job, or you have been thinking about a career change or even setting up a business of your own, the opportunity to leave your current position on good terms and with a financial cushion could be a very good thing indeed.

You could wait to see if you would be made compulsorily  redundant after a long process of meetings with your employer. Alternatively, and if your employer has put this on the table, you could apply for voluntary redundancy. While there is no guarantee of redundancy in either situation because an employer will want to ensure that it retains employees with the right skills and experience, voluntary redundancy is usually the quicker route. It is also something that an employer faced with having to lose staff will welcome, not least because it should reduce the number of compulsory redundancies that it would have to make.

That is not to say that voluntary redundancy is any less formal a process, however. In normal circumstances, it will still count as a dismissal and with that comes the possibility of a dismissal-related employment law claim. Employers will therefore be keen to protect themselves by requiring those who have volunteered for redundancy to enter into a settlement agreement. These are legally binding confirmations that the dismissed employee will not bring certain claims against the employer. In return, the employer will agree to pay the employee a sum in addition to the usual statutory and other entitlements.

Voluntary redundancy won’t be for everyone. It isn’t something that people who see a future in their existing job will necessarily consider at all. However, if you have ambitions elsewhere – whether in a different line of work, or even a career break or retirement – voluntary redundancy could offer that valuable kick-start.

For advice about redundancy or any aspect of employment law, contact Julian Cole, 01264 325805 or

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