Redundancy – Simple Do’s and Don’ts

22 08 2010

Today I’d like to look at some simple do’s and don’ts when it comes to Redundancy, for businesses who are facing times of change and possibly downsizing.

It’s a sad sign of the times that most of us have been personally affected by redundancy of late.  Either as a person having been/being made redundant, or someone who is making redundancies.  From conversations with clients within and without, how well these go is often a measure of how well a business is prepared for these situations.  To this end I was inspired to start compiling a simple list of Do’s and Don’ts

DO

  • Adhere to your redundancy or management of change policy (if you have one). It provides a consistent process to handle what can be a very emotional situation.  If you don’t have one, make sure you’re clear on the process you’ll follow.
  • Check your employees’ contracts – especially if you have employees who have transferred to you under TUPE. Does anyone have any contractual enhanced terms or variances to your standard contracts?
  • Check which, if any, affected employees are covered by any union recognition agreements.
  • Remember that consultation requirements differ depending on the number of employees who may be made redundant. Follow the collective consultation procedures for 20+ redundancies.
  • Ensure that your consultation is meaningful – extend your timescale if necessary. Stress that no decisions have been made yet and encourage the employees to put forward any suggestions or comments.
  • Document everything in writing – it’s your defence to show that you consulted properly, considered alternatives and followed the right procedures.
  • If directors are likely to be made redundant, makes sure you check your articles of association.
  • Be sure to train those involved with handling the redundancy conversations have had suitable training and support on how to have difficult conversations.  Prepare them for the typical scenarios they might face.
  • Ensure your selection criteria are objective and free from discrimination. If attendance is a criteria, ensure that maternity/adoption/paternity related absences are discounted.
  • Consider your selection criteria very carefully – if you don’t have data to backup your views, then try to involve more than one person in the rating of staff. As with interviewing, subjective criteria will not stand up in tribunal – be careful to avoid personal judgements (like “strong communicator” or “poor team player” unless you can objectively justify these.
  • Attempt to find an alternative scheme for apprentices to transfer to if redundancies are inevitable.
  • Write to each individual to invite him/her to every consultation meeting.
  • You may wish to offer the chance to be accompanied by a colleague or union representative at all consultation meetings.
  • Remember to consult with those absent from work due to illness, holiday, maternity/paternity/adoption etc.
  • Document all meetings fully.
  • Consider offering outplacement support to all staff affected.
  • Ensure that you offer work trials to “at risk” employees even though you may think the employee lacks the correct skills.
  • Consult with those not “at risk” – some may put themselves forward for voluntary redundancy or suggest job-shares, transfer to part-time working etc.
  • Offer all suitable alternatives to those at risk – even if at lower pay and status than their current roles. Ensure you provide full details of all suitable vacancies, including salary details.
  • Continue to pay benefits such as car allowances during the notice period.
  • Support those who remain after a redundancy process has been completed.

DON’T

  • Forget that it is the role that is being made redundant, not the person.
  • Pretend that a role is redundant to ease the process of dismissing an unsatisfactory performer.
  • Dismiss on grounds of redundancy if you are going to replace in that role.
  • Go down the redundancy route without first considering other options eg capping overtime, changing working methods, modifying hours, natural wastage etc.
  • Make false promises. Never say that there will be no further redundancies after these cuts – you have no way of knowing this.
  • Rush through the consultation process to try and save money – you may not do so in the long run!
  • Under-estimate the emotional response of someone under threat of redundancy. Expect to have to adjourn meetings and reconvene if employees are too distressed to contribute to the discussions.
  • Assume that you have to have “LIFO” (last in, first out) as your selection criteria. This may be indirectly discriminatory on grounds of age but also tribunals will accept that you want to retain those with key skills and performance.
  • Include apprentices in your selection criteria unless the entire section/business is closing down.
  • Delay commencing redundancy consultation if you are aware that it is going to happen.
  • Ignore any suggestions the employees may make as to ways of avoiding compulsory redundancies.
  • Think you know which jobs the “at risk” employees would not be interested in. Ask them for their thoughts. Make available all job vacancies for consideration, even if you think they may not be interested.
  • Grant garden leave unless it is contained in the employment contract and the employee has officially been served his/her notice.
  • Serve notice of redundancy until the consultation period and process is complete.
  • Refuse staff who are under notice of redundancy, and who have at least two years’ service, reasonable paid time off to attend interviews or secure alternative work.
  • Delay in making any redundancy payments.
  • Discuss compromise agreements too early in the process.
  • Forget that in redundancy situations, even where the person has volunteered for redundancy, you are still dismissing someone.

If you’re facing change or handling the aftermath and need some impartial advice, please get in touch with Creative Leadership today on 01202 853647

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4 responses

2 03 2011
glynis dean

dont know if you can help but i was made redundant in april 2010 to which not long after the remaining staff was given a pay rise over time and they employed another person whom is a member of the family and 1 member of the family was employed on a three month trial at the time if you cannot help with this matter could you please let me know where i should be looking for the answers thankyou

3 03 2011
Michelle Fischer

Thanks for your query Glynis. It sounds to me like you need to go and see an employment lawyer or at the very least Citizens Advice on your query. Make sure to write down all the key facts of what happened for you and what you’ve latterly found out. Good luck! Michelle

14 10 2011
Robert Bush

This is a great article. I’ve been looking for more quality content that I could use for an ebook I’m writing on Small Business Tips. If you don’t mind I would like to use this article as content for my ebook and my Small Business Tips blog. I will make sure I keep it the same and will show you as the author and include any links that you have. Thanks so much and I enjoyed the article.

4 03 2014
jO

simple question, but can anyone advise do i have to give a list of questions to my supplier prior to any meetings we have within this consolation period ?

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