In light of BT’s announcement that it will be cutting up to 13,000 jobs, Tom Mitchell, a solicitor who is expert in employment law details the ten things employers and employees need to consider when facing redundancies.Dealing with redundancy situations can be difficult for both employee and employer. No two situations are the same but whatever the circumstances it’s important to understand the basics, take advice as early as possible and do all you can to prepare for the future now.
1 – Notification. An employer should identify the group of employees at risk of redundancy known as the ‘redundancy selection pool’. They will then need to be informed they are at risk and how individuals will be selected. Any selection criteria should be as objective as possible to avoid unfairness and discrimination.
2 – Consultation is required. What level of consultation is required will depend on how many redundancies are proposed. For less than 20 proposed redundancies the consultation process can be managed individually with the employees concerned. Over that number collective consultation requirements must be fulfilled, meaning employee representatives need to be elected or trade union representatives used.
3 – Engage with the process. Consultation usually means all aspects of the process, including the selection pool and the proposed selection criteria, should be discussed and any feedback considered. There may be ways to avoid the need for forced redundancies altogether if employees agree to reduced hours, pay, voluntary redundancy, or changes to working practices.
4 – Provisional selection is just that. If an employee is provisionally selected all it means is that their role is potentially redundant, it does not necessarily follow that they will have no job at the end of the process. If provisionally selected careful consideration should be given to whether the way in which the employee has been selected has been done fairly; check whether the criteria have been properly applied and any scoring correct, consider any mitigating circumstances which could explain a low score, make clear any alternative positions available or roles you would consider undertaking.
5 – Appeals. Most fair redundancy processes should include a right of appeal if a selection for redundancy is confirmed. Appeals could include raising issues about the process generally and the manner in which a selection has been made.
6 – Alternative Employment. The employer is obliged during the consultation process, and prior to any dismissal to consider any suitable alternative vacancies that become available. Employees should make known to the employer what they would consider suitable, it might be a more junior role or a different role altogether.
7 – Redundancy Payments. Only employees with more than two years service are entitled to a statutory redundancy payment, payments follow a formula shown on the .gov website.
8 – Check the contract. The contract will set out the contractual notice period due and often a right to make a payment in lieu of working notice. In addition it, and any staff handbook or redundancy policy should be checked for additional redundancy entitlements in excess of the statutory minimum. All employees, not just those with two years service will have some contractual rights.
9 – Unfair dismissals. Many employers make mistakes in the way redundancy processes are carried out which can result in unfair dismissals and discrimination claims. The redundancy process should be carried out carefully and pay high regard to any information gained during the consultation process.
10 – Take advice. Advice should be taken at the outset on any proposed redundancy process, negotiating agreed terms in the form of settlement agreements can be proposed at any stage by either party and benefit both were terms can be agreed. Check out our guide to Settlement Agreements gives an overview of what needs to be considered before signing.
AND FINALLY – As Hifsa O’Kelly, expert employment lawyer advises those facing redundancy, “Use this time to make sure your CV is relevant and recent. Employers are required to give those who are subject to redundancy, ‘reasonable’ time off to look for other jobs and perhaps the first step could be to consult a careers agency to help with that CV and interview practice. Being early and proactive in seeking advice, both legal and career-focused will help employees prepare to face the future, whatever that may be.”
Facing redundancy, or having to take the decision to make staff redundant can be extremely upsetting and stressful. However, having an expert on your side to explore the options, explain your rights and act as a confidante and support can ease the process towards a bright future.
If you are concerned about your employment status in any way get in touch with our team who will be able to advise you on what to do next.