Employment Tribunal To Examine 200 Cases Concerning Virgin Atlantic Redundancies of Older Workers

Next month, the London employment tribunal will analyse over 200 cases related to pre-pandemic Virgin Atlantic redundancies. The claims involve several older workers who believe Sir Richard Branson’s airline made them redundant unjustly in favour of cheaper staff. Below, we unravel the ongoing events and outline redundancy rights in the UK.

Contact us today if you have any questions concerning redundancies or believe you’ve been unfairly made redundant. Redmans Solicitors are specialists in the employment law sector and could discuss your circumstances in a quick consultation. We could help you navigate the legal process effectively if you have an eligible case.

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Virgin Atlantic Redundancies Under Scrutiny

Over 200 cases concerning Virgin Atlantic redundancies arising during Covid-19 will be presented to the London employment tribunal in June 2024. The redundancies occurred when the majority of Sir Richard Branson’s fleet was grounded in 2020 because of the pandemic.

What began as an initial slash of 3,000 jobs soon became a 40% reduction in the airline’s then 10,000-strong workforce. 53-year-old Susan Mcentegart was one of those unfortunate enough to be made redundant. She had over two decades of service with the airline and was a well-paid onboard manager.

When Virgin Atlantic undertook job cuts, it created a ‘holding pool’. This effectively enabled it to rehire redundant staff once lockdown restrictions were lifted if it wished. However, many experienced onboard managers were excluded from this pool. One claim alleges that the airline chose to retain hundreds of newly hired, less experienced staff while making the more costly older workers redundant.

Ms McEntegart is among the 51 claimants represented by a law firm in Luton. Additionally, another 150 claimants are pursuing their cases through the Cabin Crew Union, while 11 others are being represented independently.

In response to the class action, a Virgin Atlantic spokesperson highlighted the serious impact Covid-19 had on the aviation industry. They explained how this meant the airline had to make “very difficult decisions”, stating, “Sadly, this included reducing the number of people employed across the business by 45%”.

The spokesperson also said, “Throughout the redundancy process, we were committed to ensuring all our people were treated fairly and compassionately”. In closing, they claimed their redundancy process was “unbiased, objective, and lawful”. Therefore, it will be up to the tribunal to determine whether the Virgin Atlantic redundancies complied with the law.

UK Redundancy Laws: Know Your Rights

When an employee is made redundant, the employer must adhere to legal requirements. Said adherence is the focus of the Virgin Atlantic redundancies. Non-compliance could cause compensation claims against the employer.

Employers considering redundancy must promptly inform employees, detailing:

  • The necessity of the process
  • Which roles could be made redundant
  • The number of positions at risk
  • The next steps

Individual consultations with those at risk are required unless 20 or more employees are being dismissed, in which case collective redundancy rules apply. During consultations, employers must discuss the proposed changes, and employees can suggest ways to avoid redundancy. While employers are not obliged to adopt these suggestions, they must seriously consider them.

Selection for redundancy must be objective and measurable. The process should be fair, factual and free from personal bias. Selecting individuals based on protected characteristics, such as age or gender, is unlawful.

Supposing an employee is selected for redundancy, their employer must provide information concerning their notice period. They should inform the individual of the length of their notice and continue paying them until this ends.

If the individual is legally classified as an employee and has continuously worked for their employer for at least two years, they will be entitled to statutory redundancy pay. The amount they receive will be based on their age and length of service. Yet, it’s essential to check the employment contract, as the employer may offer additional pay, too.

It’s also important to note that if an individual is ‘an employee’ and ‘suitable alternative employment’ is available, their employer must offer it. The suitability of a role will depend on various factors, including its remuneration, location and similarity to the previous position. If an employer fails to offer this when they should, the employee could be entitled to pursue unfair dismissal compensation.

Get Help with Redmans

If you believe you’ve experienced something similar to the Virgin Atlantic redundancies, contact Redmans Solicitors today. With our years of experience, we can answer your questions and advise on your possible steps going forward. Please don’t hesitate to contact us by: