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Getting It Right: Redundancies - The First Steps

Getting It Right: Redundancies - The First Steps
Richard Hiron Nov 12,2020
blog post

Employers often find redundancies to be as overwhelming as employees do.

The best approach to redundancy is to approach it with an open mind and to treat it much like a story: there is a beginning, a middle and an end.

Looking at the beginning, employers who may be considering redundancies really need to set time aside to consider the following elements:-

 

  • What are the business reasons behind considering making redundancies (i.e. is the business or part of the business closing, is certain work diminishing or ceasing altogether)?
  • How many employees are likely to be affected by this?
  • Which working groups do they belong to within the business or do they work alone?
  • What efforts have you already made or might you be able to accommodate to avoid making redundancies (i.e. employees moving to part-time hours on a short or long-term basis, temporary lay-offs, are there any suitable jobs that these employees could be moved to, etc.)?
  • Will this resolve the situation or might further redundancies be likely?

 

If employers do not plan ahead for these sorts of things then they can run into difficulties during a redundancy process. For that reason, it can help employers if they set down their initial considerations in a business case (also known as a rationale) which is structured around the points set out above. It does not need to be a massive report, but it does need to be clear and concise – where possible, avoid using industry-specific language so that both it and your reasons for considering redundancies are clear to anyone who reads that document.

It is equally important to understand that the redundancy process is a collaborative one between employees, their representatives and the employer. This means that you should genuinely consider suggestions from your employees and/or their representatives to avoid making redundancies at all, if possible. These suggestions might be ridiculous and unworkable, but the key thing is not to dismiss them out of hand; you should show that you have seriously considered them and later explain why they are unworkable. Where suggestions can be adopted, your end goals do not necessarily need to change drastically.

Additionally, if employers make employees redundant for the wrong reasons (because the employees are pregnant or new mothers, they have raised health and safety concerns or they have tried to assert their statutory rights such as by asking to be given a contract of employment, to name just a few examples), then they risk leaving themselves open not only to a difficult redundancy process, but also to significant claims from the affected employees. Whilst employees need 2 years of continuous employment to be able to claim unfair dismissal, other claims such as discrimination, wrongful dismissal and automatically unfair dismissal may be lurking in the background to catch you out in a redundancy process.

Lastly, perhaps a sobering thought when it comes to planning a redundancy process is to ask yourself: if I were an employee, how would I like to be treated during all of this? If your answer does not sound positive, then changes to your approach may be necessary as a disgruntled employee can be the difference between new work coming into your business or not.

This article is intended for information purposes only and not as a substitute for legal advice. TP Legal does not accept any responsibility for any decisions that you may make as a result of reading this article.

Call us on 01483 751878 to discuss how we may help you.