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    25 October 2020

    Making redundancies: Advice for businesses

    As the furlough scheme comes to an end on the 30th October, many businesses are facing difficult decisions around redundancy. Our Employment Team has seen a rise in the number of calls received from businesses who want to ensure they are following a fair redundancy process.

    Employment Solicitor, and Director, Robert Hickford reviews the steps employers must take, what is considered a collective redundancy and top tips for businesses facing the prospect of making redundancies.

    Q1. What steps must an employer take during the redundancy process?

    This will depend on the number of employee’s being made redundant. The employer should warn staff as soon as it is considering making jobs redundant. Once warned, staff should be able to respond to the business’ proposals and offer any thoughts or suggestions they might have that would avoid or reduce the need for redundancies. The employer should genuinely consider what the employee’s put forward and then provide feedback at a subsequent meeting. This includes whether to pool certain staff and which criteria to use for selection. Finally, the employer must inform the employee of their redundancy and the reason why they were selected for redundancy. It is also good practice to offer the redundant employee the chance to appeal that decision.

    Q2. How can employers ensure the redundancy selection process is fair and does not discriminate?

    Firstly, by making sure the correct staff are pooled. This requires the business to be clear about what kind of work is redundant and pooling all staff that provide that type of work. Secondly, when selecting which staff to make redundant in the pool, objective selection criteria should be used over subjective criteria. This means scoring staff on things like their length of service and disciplinary record rather than things like ‘customer service’ which require subjective evaluation by management.

    Q3. What would be considered a ‘collective redundancy’? How does this process differ from the standard redundancy process?

    • Collective redundancy occurs when a business is making 20 or more staff redundant over a period of 90 days or less. There are a few ways this changes things. The most important are:
    • the fact that no redundancies can occur for a minimum period of 30 days from the date the consultation process started
    • the requirement to elect and consult with employee representatives where necessary
    • the obligation to notify the Secretary of State for business of the proposed redundancies.

    Q4. What would be considered an unfair dismissal?

    A tribunal might find that the dismissal was unfair if it is not fully convinced that there was a genuine need for redundancies or if the process undertaken by the business to select staff for redundancy was unfair.

    Q5. What top tips would you give to businesses that are facing the prospect of making redundancies?

    Make sure you are clear with your staff about the reasons for making the redundancies. Go into the consultation process with an open mind and really consider any points put across by staff. If you feel you cannot avoid making cuts, be objective when selecting whose role will be lost. Take legal advice before starting the process!

    If you are an HR Manager or business owner who is facing the prospect of making redundancies and you would like to discuss further with the Steeles Law Employment team, please do not hesitate to call 01603 598000 or email employment@steeleslaw.co.uk. Appointments are available at our Diss, Norwich and London offices, at your offices by appointment or via video conference.

    *The information provided in this article is designed to provide useful information on the subject, not to provide specific legal advice.



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