The pandemic has had massive impact on companies. Some have been able to survive well enough due to the industry that they operate, and others being left counting the cost as further lockdowns are seen on the horizon

With companies in some industries decimated, companies have to think ahead when considering the stability and viability of their business, and whether redundancies are required.

Are Redundancies Required

Before making any decisions, consideration must be given to options such as a company’s own Furlough scheme, reduced hours and/or pay and look at voluntary redundancies.  Also future use of the Job Support Scheme.   In my opinion, staff would rather consider a reduction in hours than face losing their job in the knowledge that the unemployment levels are increasing at an alarming rate.

If following alternatives, redundancies are still necessary, it is important that you notify and consult employees – and where necessary collective consultation with representatives – such as trade unions.

Consultation is a critical and legally required aspect of a redundancy process. It also allows staff to contribute and if required suggest options or alternatives.

Is it Redundancy? Identifying a Pool

Redundancy normally occurs due to one of three things, Organisational Change, Economic Climate or Technology progression.

The economic climate currently is forcing organisations to downsize, re-structure and make cost reductions due to the impact of the pandemic. Let’s be clear, it’s because roles have disappeared and due to lack of demand for their company service or product.

However, some companies use redundancy to oust out people who are under-performing – there are clear processes to deal with under performance. If redundancy is used as an excuse, along with an ill written new job description, insufficient evidence of a reason for a restructure identifying the job no longer exists/or in its current form – tribunal judges are likely to see right through this and see unfair dismissal.

By carefully identifying the pool of staff affected by the re-structure, you can then decide on next steps of applying a selection criterion and/or whether interviews for remaining positions is preferred.

It is also okay to have a pool of one. The key point is to follow correct redundancy protocol through consultation.  Initial consultations with staff can then occur re next steps and to receive feedback.

Redundancy and Selection Criteria

Some companies use the approach of an interview and other interventions to ascertain suitability for new roles in a new structure. Others use the approach of Selection Criteria.

Results in tribunal cases tend to suggest that judges focus on a fair and transparent process being undertaken rather than the decision making of the actual points awarded in the selection matrix. They pay attention to the criteria being used to ensure that it is not discriminatory in any way.  For example, the term of “Flexibility/Flexible” could indicate discriminatory towards those who can only work part time e.g females.

The following criteria can be used when selecting employees for redundancy:

– Skills and experience.

– Attendance and disciplinary records.

– Standard of work performance; and

– Aptitude for work.

Decisions on points awarded should be taken by those who can ensure an objective view, but equally know individuals being considered.

Care must be taken at every step to ensure that the chosen criteria are assessed objectively and applied fairly and consistently.   For a dismissal to be fair, it is necessary that an employee can be provided with sufficient information in order to be able to challenge his or her selection for redundancy.

Advising of Result and Alternative Employment

Following the advice to individuals affected through the selection criteria and notification of redundancy – options should be considered across the organisation for alternative employment if this is possible.

Within the climate of a shrinking economy, this option may well prove extremely difficult. However, should be explored actively and extensively – no stone unturned.

There may be an appeal to be heard – this is a requirement of a redundancy process, and this should be actioned quickly and by an independent representative from the company.

A true supportive company will do their best for those effected, by

– providing details of the local Job Centre.

– contact other local employers who may have vacancies.

– assist in using social media to explore vacancies.

– find and encourage use of local companies who provide free guidance on CVs, job application forms and interview techniques

Equally you must provide them with time off to look and attend interviews during the redundancy notice period if they are working this period.

The aftermath, what’s left… moving forward

The most distressing aspect of redundancy and quite often forgotten is those whom are left – having seen the devastation of the impact of redundancy, and then the need to pick up the pieces – feeling uncertain about the way forward and the future.

It is important that line managers hold regular supportive 1-2-1 meetings with those which feel anxious by the changes around them, providing re-assurance, listening and receiving feedback.

Most importantly that strong visible leadership is provided to shape the organisation, re-energise it and lead through the turbulent times ahead. Involving staff with the shaping of the company’s future and the value which they will add to its success.

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