Most employers find the process of carrying out redundancies difficult and stressful. Many managers will describe it as the worst part of the job.
It is important that companies understand how to implement a proper redundancy process. Getting it wrong can lead to employment tribunal claims for unfair dismissal or even for discrimination.
More assistance is now available to employers in the form of an ACAS Guide entitled How to Manage Collective Redundancies.
This has been issued to coincide with changes to the rules on consultation in the case of collective redundancies. From 6 April 2013, companies who are proposing to make 100 or more staff redundant have to consult (with trade unions or employee representatives) for 45 days rather than 90.
If between 20 and 99 redundancies are in contemplation, the collective consultation period is 30 days.
There must be consultation with the trade unions where one or more is already recognised by the company. In other cases, staff must be invited to elect their own employee representatives and the employer must then consult with them over the redundancy proposals.
There is no legal obligation to consult with trade unions/employee reps if up to 19 redundancies are being considered. However it is still important to consult with individuals themselves before issuing them with notice of redundancy. Not only will early and clear communication make the process much easier, but a failure to consult with staff could lead to unfair dismissal claims.
The ACAS guide contains useful information for employers on when to start a redundancy consultation process and how to carry out redundancies properly.
It has an appendix containing examples of selection criteria that might be used, and another with suggestions for a written redundancy procedure. Further sections deal with redundancy payments and election and responsibilities of employee representatives.
While the ACAS guide offers very helpful general advice, every business is different. For example, selection criteria that are relevant to one workplace, or one department, may be completely irrelevant to another, and this might make the process flawed. If your business needs to cut staff for any reason, contact Springhouse for specific, tailored advice on getting it right.