Can I make someone redundant and then re-employ them on a fixed-term contract?

Make someone redundant then re-employ

Q. Can I make someone redundant then re-employ them on a fixed-term contract?

I was asked the question if it was possible to make someone redundant then re-employ that same person on a fixed-term contract.  The short answer is yes, with some caveats.

If you make someone redundant today and re-employ them within a few weeks on a fixed-term basis, chances you could be challenged on the redundancy decision.  Unless the work which you’ve offered them on fixed-term came completely out of the blue (and let’s face it, it does happen sometimes), you would be expected to know about it before you made the decision to dismiss them.  Knowing that there was fixed-term work available, the correct thing to do would be to offer it to the affected employee as an alternative to redundancy.  If the employee unreasonably refused the work then they could forfeit their right to any statutory redundancy pay.

If, on the other hand, the fixed-term work was offered a few months after the redundancy, there wouldn’t be any problem with that at all.  However, the employee would lose their continuity of service after their redundancy and be starting again “from scratch” with the fixed-term post so it’s important that you would make that clear before they accept any such offer.

As an employer, there are lots of things to think about when considering redundancies in your business.  I’d say that in general, the two main points to remember are firstly, that redundancies are always about the role (and the operational requirements for that role), not about the person.  Secondly, redundancy should always be a last resort. You should investigate every possible option to avoid it and, if challenged, be able to prove that you have exhausted all the possible alternatives.

If you need advice on making redundancies in your business, you can contact us in confidence.