Managing redundancies can be stressful at the best of times, but with many businesses severely affected by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic it has meant that far more business owners have had to contemplate making staff redundant than ever. It can be a daunting prospect if you have never done this before, so here are five tips to help you manage the situation professionally.
1. Consultation – Not a Fait Accompli
It is very important to ensure that you consult with the employees affected before you make the decision to make redundancies and do not simply tell them that they are out of a job. Otherwise there is a risk that any employee subsequently dismissed will claim that it is unfair because you did not give them the opportunity to discuss alternative solutions. So, prepare a statement to staff to explain what is happening and why. Consult with staff representatives where applicable, as well as with each affected person individually. Make sure that they know that they can be accompanied by a fellow worker or accredited Trade Union representative if they want.
2. Post not Person
Remember that you are not making a person redundant – but the post. If you must remove posts, then the people in those posts would be dismissed by reason of redundancy if there are no suitable alternative roles.
You may be taking what you believe to be rational business decisions, but you may get emotional and irrational responses back from the employees. This is because they may be worried and scared about the future and they may be feeling defensive. Employees in this situation often take redundancy personally, so reassure them that it is not about their performance and it is not their fault, but it has resulted from the business situation.
3. Pool of One or more?
If there is only one person in the post you are considering making redundant, the process is relatively straightforward once you have told the person in that post that they are at risk of redundancy. But you still need to look to see if there are other alternatives for that person. If there are several employees undertaking the same role and you need fewer of them, you will need to put in place a selection process using objective criteria to deliver what the business needs going forwards. You should always be prepared to explain the scoring of an employee and use existing records such as performance review scores, productivity figures where applicable, and attendance records (excluding disability/ statutory family leave).
4. Reasonable Alternative Employment & Maternity
The employer is required to make employees aware of alternative options for employment with the company. In addition, it is a good idea to ask the employee if there are any roles they would be prepared to apply for (even if these are at a lower grade and rate of pay or at another location). You do not have to create jobs, but you do have to make a reasonable attempt to identify opportunities. Do not make assumptions that an employee would not be interested in a job; make them aware of the vacancy list and ask if they wish to apply.
If you have employees on maternity leave (or, parents on adoption or shared parental leave) then they trump anyone else with regards to suitable alternative employment. They have priority over others and must be offered an alternative job if one is available (not just offered an opportunity to apply for it or be told about it) if the work is of a kind with is both suitable in relation to the employee and appropriate for her to do under the circumstances.
The gov.uk website will help you calculate the payments due, but you must make sure that any employees dismissed are provided with a letter setting out those payments and the reason for their dismissal. But if you have any concerns, get in touch early on as we can help iron out any potential difficulties before they occur. Alternatively if you would prefer to handle this yourself, see the Redundancies Toolkit at https://cheringtonhr.com/shop/managing-redundancies-toolkit