It’s fair to say there is no good way of breaking bad news, but there is a right way to do so when it comes to announcing redundancies.
Fear, speculation and the threat of job losses can understandably be devastating for an employer and the workforce.
A genuine redundancy situation occurs when an employer no longer requires an employee to do a particular job. This may be because the organisation is changing the way it operates, plans to do things in a different way or closing down the business and moving (1).Staff need to be informed in the right way of any changes that may mean their job is at risk.
Many of the 2,400 workers once employed by the Manchester-based The Accident Group were first informed of their redundancy via text message, which it was said asked the recipient to call a telephone number (2).
The call was answered by a recorded message that reportedly said: ‘All staff who are being retained will be contacted today. If you have not been spoken to you are therefore being made redundant with immediate effect.’
Those who were made redundant were not paid at the time. Some were later paid between £600 and £2,500 each by the government in a reported £4m deal.(3)
If an employer does not consult employees in a redundancy situation, the likelihood is any redundancies will be found to be unfair.
If up to 19 members of staff are facing redundancy, there are no set rules about how the consultation should be carried out. However, as redundancy is a form of dismissal the process should be fair and reasonable in order to avoid any claims for unfair dismissal (4)
If 20 or more employees are being made redundant at the same time, the collective redundancy rules apply (5)
Key to making sure the process is done fairly is preparation, communication and understanding, which will help to ensure the right people are kept updated and fully aware of the situation.
Employees have to be informed of the plans and any decisions. Before an employer starts the redundancy process it should consider all alternative options such as ending overtime and stopping recruitment and the use of agency and casual workers.
A clear plan should be in place and managers fully briefed as this can help to gain their support and to ensure the process runs smoothly.
Consultation should take place with employees and they must be given an opportunity to air their opinions on any proposed changes in working conditions (6)
The redundancy selection process will follow the announcement. Offers of voluntary redundancies can sometimes attract enough willing takers that will mean an employer can avoid compulsory redundancies.
Sometimes, however, compulsory redundancies are unavoidable and this stage of the process needs to be handled carefully to ensure those selected are lawfully dismissed.
Employees need to be made aware of any redundancy selection criteria (7) which as far as practicable should be objective, job-related and non-discriminatory. For example, if one of the selection criteria is attendance, it should ensure that it discounts any disability-related absences during the protected period.
It is essential to ensure that those in charge of conducting the process are informed, knowledgeable and aware of potential pitfalls, such as claims under disability legislation.
These are challenging financial times for many enterprises, which is added to by the uncertainty and speculation about Brexit and the impact this may have on the British economy.
What is certain, however, is that businesses will need to continue to review and evaluate strategies and structures and this may lead to redundancies.
The redundancy process can be difficult and emotionally challenging for all of those involved and affected by it. If you need help conducting a redundancy process contact Castle Associates Employer Support
3. Redundancy money paid late [Internet] BBC News [Cited 21st January 2019] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/manchester/3203348.stm
4. Unfair dismissal [Internet] www.castleassociates.org.uk [Cited 21st January 2019] http://castleassociates.org.uk/support-centre/unfair-dismissal
5. Collective consultation [Internet] ACAS [Cited 21st January 2019] http://m.acas.org.uk/media/pdf/l/2/pdp-collective-consultation-on-redundancies-accessible-version-July-2011.pdf
6. Your rights [Internet] www.gov.uk [Cited 21st January 2019] https://www.gov.uk/redundant-your-rights/consultation
7. Selection criteria [Internet] www.tssa.org.uk [Cited 21t January 2019] https://www.tssa.org.uk/en/Your-union/your-workplace/employment-rights/redundancy--selection-criteria-and-procedures.cfm,
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