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It's actually a legal term. A redundancy in Australia means that the position you fill is no longer required. You're paid out accordingly to be sacked and the company cannot hire for that exact position (title, role, job) for some time.

The determination if a company violates that (as in, they're getting rid of YOU not the position) becomes a whole set of legal arguments.

But essentially/idealistically;

redundancy = getting rid of the position and it can't come back under another name.

firing = getting rid of you as a person.

Oddly enough, in the US it's legally advantageous for a company to disguise a firing as a layoff, but not the other way around.

Why? Because if you get laid off, you can collect unemployment, but if you get fired for cause, you can't. But if you think the company pretended they had cause when they didn't, you can appeal, and the company will have to spend considerable resources defending their position that they had cause. As such, many employers legally classify all firings as layoffs because it's often not worth the hassle. And there's no penalties to doing so, either.

So if you get fired but the company officially considers it a layoff, it's a good thing for you: you dodged a bullet.

Unemployement benefits, and how they're financed, vary by state. In NC, they keep track of a company's layoff history, and adjust the unemployment tax (levied on the employer) according to that history (hypothetically). There was a series of articles about some companies evading these and other taxes in 2012[0]. I also remember reports about unemployment tax shenanigans in New Jersey, but I can't find them quickly.

[0] http://www.newsobserver.com/news/special-reports/the-ghost-w...

I worked for a large company (in the US) a few years back, and they're in chipmaking so it's common to staff up / down based on market conditions. So what the management would do is, keep a list of people to eliminate in the next 'RIF' (reduction in force), and next time a RIF came around they'd clean house. Nobody was ever fired from that company.

Of course, as these things go, it became an verb in management speak. "Yeah, remember so-and-so? He was ok but didn't really get it so we RIFfed him last year".

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