M&S redundancies signal a busy year ahead for employment solicitors

The recent announcement by M&S that over 1,000 of its staff are to be made redundant begins a year of heavy job losses, which will mark 2009 out as a busy year for employment solicitors. With experts predicting unemployment will rise to three million in 2009, employment solicitors are preparing themselves for handling an unusually high number of redundancy cases.

The job cuts at M&S highlight the complex nature of redundancies, which will often lead individuals to seek legal advice from employment solicitors. The job losses at the British retailer follow recent accusations by a whistleblower that the company made moves last year to reduce redundancy pay for its long serving staff.

TakeLegalAdvice has recorded a three-fold increase in enquiries for redundancy solicitors as compared with this time last year, suggesting that both companies and individuals are looking to protect their interests in a year of heavy job losses.

Jonathan Mansfield of Thomas Mansfield LLP, a firm specialising exclusively in employment law, confirmed an increase in redundancy cases. He told TakeLegalAdvice that whilst it is normal for employment solicitors to experience a high volume of work in the build up to Christmas, this is usually followed by a lull at the start of the New Year. However, 2009 has already bulked this trend with work continuing at a high volume into January.

Mr Mansfield also observed a change in the type of work his firm has been seeing. He observed that 2009 has seen “more on the lay-off side than the handling of contracts for new employees as one would normally expect at this time of the year”. Asked about his expectations for 2009, Mr Mansfield confirmed that he is “anticipating that the high volume of redundancy cases will continue throughout the course of the coming year.”

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