How to increase your severance payment to 63k

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Employment lawyers in the City say they're being deluged with redundant bankers who want to sue their former employers for unfair dismissal.

"Most people accept that there's a need for redundancies," says Philip Landau at solicitors Landau Zeffertt Weir. "Their biggest gripe is why they've been chosen instead of anyone else - they're questioning the selection criteria."

Jane Mann, head of employment law at Fox Williams Associates, says she's getting around 10 new claims for unfair dismissal each week. "A lot of people want to challenge both their payouts and the reasoning behind their redundancy."

Money is the motivator for bringing an unfair dismissal claim: if successful you will be eligible for compensation of up to 63k.

However, comparatively few claims are successful. To show you've been unfairly dismissed, lawyers say you'll need to prove one of the following -

1) You weren't really made redundant - ie. someone else occupied your job after you left

2) You were unfairly selected for redundancy - your employer selected you simply because you were old/expensive/wearing a red jumper. A correct process should rank potential candidates for redundancy against a matrix of the criteria used to determine who goes and who stays.

(Landau says you can only be made redundant for being too expensive if your employer first discusses whether you'd be prepared to accept a reduction in pay. If you refuse, your employer must still show that there's no need for someone earning that salary in the position your're working in.)

3) The redundancy process wasn't followed properly - when they're making redundancies, employers have to adhere to strict rules on things like consultation. These rules depend upon who how many people are made redundant at any one time.

If you want to bring an unfair dismissal claim, you'll have to ensure that you haven't already signed a compromise agreement, which will waive your right to challenge the conditions of your redundancy.

If successful, Landau says the size of your payoff will include compensation for loss of earnings. If you find another job just two months of being made redundant, you therefore won't get much.

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