All information is provided informally by the RSA. By reading this, you acknowledge that the RSA are not, in any way, qualified legal advisors and that this information may contain errors or misunderstanding. Proper legal advice should be sought from professionals (e.g. the University HR department, union representatives, lawyers, or citizen's advice).
As a researcher on fixed-term funding, you are far more likely to find yourself being made redundant than any other group of staff at Lancaster. It’s important, therefore, to understand what that actually means and what your rights are.
Does my contract status (fixed-term/indefinite) matter?
In short: no – with one exception (see below).
By law, employers must not treat those on fixed-term contracts any less favourably than those on indefinite contracts. Equally, being on an indefinite contract does not stop you being made redundant. As soon as the funding runs out, you may find yourself being made redundant irrespective of your contract type.
Generally, your rights are dependent upon how long you have worked for your employer (the University) in a continuous capacity.
Now, for that one exception. In the case where an employer makes 20 or more staff redundant within a 90-day window, they are required by law to undertake collective consultation with the relevant trade union(s). However, this only applies to indefinite contract staff, they are not required to do this for redundancies from the ending of fixed-term contracts.
Can I be redeployed (i.e. take another job at Lancaster) instead of being made redundant?
Three months prior to your funding end date (i.e. the date from which you would be made redundant) the University should contact you. They will offer for you to enter into the redeployment process. You do not need to take them up on this offer – though they may refuse to pay you redundancy pay if you “unreasonably turn down suitable alternative employment”. See more about your rights here: https://www.gov.uk/redundancy-your-rights/suitable-alternative-employment
If you do take up a new job at Lancaster through redeployment, you are “pay protected” for 2 years. This means the University will continue to pay you at your current salary, even if the job was advertised at a lower salary, so long as the new role is not more than two grades lower than your current grade.
Am I eligible for redudancy pay – even if employed on a fixed-term contract?
Yes – so long as you have been working at the University in a continuous capacity for 2 years or more, and have not been redeployed.
You are entitled to redundancy pay even if you were employed on a fixed-term contract or through fixed-term funding, so long as you meet the 2-year criterion.
How much is my redundancy pay?
The University will generally only pay what is known as “statutory redundancy pay”, i.e. the minimum required by law. The amount you will receive will depend on a few things including your age, weekly pay, and how long you have worked at the University. Use the UK Government’s statutory redundancy pay calculator to find how much you are entitled to.
Can I be made redundant whilst on parental leave?
Yes – but it must be a genuine reason for redundancy, i.e. your fixed-term funding runs out during your period of leave, otherwise you may have a case for unfair dismissal.
Additionally, you are given some “statutory protection”. This essentially means you are given “first refusal” to any suitable alternative employment. By law, you are considered top priority on the redeployment list. More information on redundancy during parental leave can be found here.
It is always worth speaking to your PI/line manager and RSO about parental leave. Some research councils (e.g. UKRI) allow for no cost extensions for parental leave – meaning you funding may not run out until after your leave is complete.