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Want to stay on the right side of the law? We support businesses and public authorities and help them to promote good practice.

Redundancy & letting staff go

What you need to know

How we can help

Making it work



How do I deal with redundancy situations?
As an employer you should have a policy and procedure in place for redundancy situations. These policies and procedures must be fairly and consistently applied to all employees regardless of:

  • sex
  • pregnancy or maternity
  • gender reassignment
  • married or civil partnership
  • religious or similar philosophical belief
  • political opinion
  • race
  • sexual orientation
  • disability
  • age

To do otherwise, on any of these grounds, is likely to amount to an act of unlawful discrimination.

Can I make a disabled employee redundant?

If you are considering dismissing a disabled employee, whether under a disciplinary, absence management or redundancy procedure, you should always consider whether a reasonable adjustment can be made either to the relevant procedure itself, or to other aspects of the workplace or to working arrangements. A failure to comply with the duty to make reasonable adjustments could amount to an act of disability discrimination.

The Disability Code of Practice, particularly chapters 5 and 8, provides guidance about how the reasonable adjustment duty applies.

What about those on pregnancy-related absence and maternity leave?

If you are considering dismissing a female employee, whether under a disciplinary, absence management or redundancy procedure, the employer must avoid committing acts of pregnancy or maternity leave discrimination.

You have a statutory duty in relation to employees who are taking maternity leave. If you are considering making an employee on maternity leave redundant, and it is not practicable by reason of redundancy for you to continue to employ them under their existing contract, then you must offer them any suitable alternative vacant post, if one exists.


Is length-of-service a factor when making redundancies?

You should be aware that using length-of-service as a selection criterion may place younger employees at a substantial disadvantage compared to older ones, and this may therefore be age discrimination. If this is likely to occur then the criterion should be objectively justified, or otherwise abandoned.

This type of selection criterion may also have a discriminatory impact where you have been using lawful affirmative or positive action measures to successfully increase the level of representation in your workforce of groups who have been historically underrepresented. Where such a criterion is likely to have a disproportionate impact of this kind, then again it should be objectively justified, or should otherwise be abandoned.


Can I require staff to retire at 65?

No, since April 2011, you are no longer permitted to routinely require employees to retire at the age of 65. If you do, an employee may be able to complain about age discrimination unless you follow certain procedures and can justify the decision to terminate their employment at 65.

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< Small business

How should I deal with retiring my employees?

You may choose to deal with retirement in a number of ways:

  • Allow employees to work beyond the age of 65 until they choose to resign voluntarily or you are compelled to dismiss them on grounds of incapacity, misconduct, or redundancy (i.e. grounds that justify the dismissal of an employee regardless of age). Many employers see the benefit of keeping on experienced and loyal employees while they remain fit to do the job.
  • Decide on a compulsory retirement age for all employees, or for a class of employees. You need to objectively justify any and all compulsory retirement ages.
  • If you decide to have a compulsory retirement age, you have to be able to show that there is a very good reason why your employees, or a group of employees, cannot continue to work beyond that age. Ask yourself whether you have good evidence to support this reason and consider whether there is an alternative (non-discriminatory) way of achieving the same result. A balance must be drawn between the business needs which might compel you to set a compulsory retirement age, and the discriminatory impact this will have on the employees affected by it.

Contact us if you require further advice on age discrimination and retirement issues. Tel: 028 90 500 600


How do I retire staff in a fair, non discriminatory way?

When retiring someone you must follow the correct statutory dismissal procedure as outlined in the Labour Relations Agency´s Code of Practice on Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures.

If the proper procedure is not followed, this automatically constitutes unfair dismissal even if you are able to objectively justify the retirement age you have set.

If you require more information on these procedures, contact the Labour Relations Agency 

You must also ensure that your retirement policy and procedure does not discriminate against any individual or group of employees.


How we can help

We believe that helping you promote and encourage good equal opportunities practice is as important as enforcing the equality law. Every year, the Commission helps hundreds of businesses and organisations comply with equality laws.

We recognise that employers' needs differ across sectors and businesses – so we tailor our services to meet employers’ varying needs.


We provide high quality training seminars and information sessions to employers on a wide range of equality issues.

These events provide advice and guidance on employers’ duties under current equality laws and on introducing best practice. We recommend that employers carefully consider their needs and choose the seminars and sessions which are of most benefit to them.


    Training sessions include:

   •  Introduction to understanding equality
   •  Equality training for line managers
   •  Recruiting fairly
   •  Bullying and harassment at work
   •  Pregnancy, maternity and flexible working
   •  Absence and performance management
   •  Promoting disability in the workplace 
   •  Reasonable steps defence
   •  How to complete an Article 55 Review
   •  Monitoring form workshops





We are flexible in terms of themes covered and can tailor courses to suit employers’ business needs. Further details are available on our employer training page or contact us Tel: 028 90 500 560, email


In-house training

On occasion, the Commission can provide in-house training for organisations.  Where we agree to such a request, we will normally deliver one session to key staff within the organisation and assist them to disseminate the training internally. For in-house training requests, Tel: 028 90 500 560 or email

Speakers for your event

If you are organising an equality related event, our staff can share their expertise to highlight relevant issues in equality law that relate to your business priorities. For further information, contact Paul Oakes  Tel: 028 90 500600.

Employer equality networks

We organize regional and sectoral networks to enable employers to work with the Equality Commission and other employers to address common issues, challenges and opportunities. The networks are as follows:


Regional Equality Networks Sectoral Equality Networks
  • Antrim and Ballymena
  • Armagh and Newry
  • Fermanagh area
  • Retail sector
  • STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths)
  • Voluntary sector

Members currently include Iceland Foods Plc, Tesco, Sainsburys, Primark, Henderson Group, Winemark, Marks & Spencer, Co-Op, Dunnes Stores, IKEA, House of Fraser, Homebase, Botanic Inns Ltd, Debenhams and Asda.  Read more>

If you are an employer and would like to join an Employer Network please Tel: 028 90 890 888 email:


Employer news ezine

To receive updates on our training seminars, events and employer equality networks sign up to receive our Employer & Service Providers' Newsletter using the subscribe button at the bottom of the page.



Making equality workMaking Equality Work

We believe that helping you to promote good equal opportunities practice is as important as enforcing equality law.  When you do something good why not share it so that others can see how to make equality work for them?

We help all kinds of organisations to use equality as the guiding principle for the way they operate and reap the rewards of diversity as well as achieving a reputation as a great organisation to work for and do business with!

View some examples of how other organisations have made equality work for them.


Southern Trust
Respecting cultural diversity in delivering health services


Belfast Trust
Addressing employability for people with mental health disabilities


Graham Construction
Moving beyond compliance to equality champions


Waterways Ireland
Enabling Fair employment through affirmative action


South West College
Welcoming statements


How Ladbrokes enable disabled customers to use their services



Does your organisation have examples of good practice that worked for you?

Tell us about it using the form below and we can feature your organisation here too.

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You can find useful information in our publication:

All employers should also follow the guidance recommended by the Labour Relations Agency in its publication:

If you are looking for a particular publication, you can search our publications database

Useful websites:



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