Making Staff Redundant
Staff redundancies are never an easy situation. Aside from arranging redundancy pay, there is a strong onus on UK companies to ensure a fair procedure, while also meeting the various other legal requirements set out under UK employment law.
UK Legal Procedure
In the UK, companies have to follow a strict procedure when choosing which staff are redundant and this often varies based on how many employees are involved, as well as pool and non-pool cases.
Pooled cases refer to situations where you are making staff redundant who undertake similar work and have to make a choice between employees.
In these situations, you need to have a clear, objective redundancy procedure, so as to avoid any discrimination or favouritism. This can use internal figures, such as sales reports, to release the least efficient staff. A ‘last one in, first one out’ policy can sometimes be adopted but care has to be taken against age discrimination.
Non-pool redundancy refers to situations where an employee fulfils a unique position within the company. Here, employers have to openly discuss possible redundancy with the staff-member, who in turn has the right to defend their position. The employer must explore alternatives to redundancy.
Can Alternative Agreements Be Made?
In Pool and non-pool cases, alternative arrangements can often be made. A person’s particular position may not be required, but that doesn’t mean the person can still benefit the company. The role may be amalgamated with another department or duty, for instance.
If 20 or more people are being made redundant, then the Secretary of State has to be notified and the company is obliged to open discussions with employees’ representatives as well as the employees individually. In discussions with representatives you need to discuss if redundancies are required, the reason for them and timescale – including any alternative options – and outline the process for determining which staff are chosen.
Where 20 or more jobs are at risk no actual redundancies can be effective for 30 days from the start of the process, or 45 days if more than 100 employees are involved.
So, why is this a difficult situation for businesses? One of the biggest risks is failing to fully carry out the required procedure. If you don’t openly discuss the situation with employees and Union representatives, or issue a redundancy notice prematurely, then the redundancy itself can be legally challenged – it could also qualify as unfair dismissal.
Similarly, it is vital companies adopt a clear process for determining which employees are made redundant. Otherwise, staff may feel they were chosen through prejudice, leading to further cases of discrimination and unfair dismissal.
From the moment you know you are facing possible redundancies, businesses should seek legal support. Davies and Partners have plenty of experience in this area, so we can guide companies and ensure they follow correct procedure, removing any risk of claims from employees involved.
For example, we can guide you on a correct, legally sound method of selecting staff for redundancy. As mentioned earlier, the process can differ depending on the staff in question and how many people are involved. By meeting all legal requirements, we can ensure the redundancies are legally valid and, consequently, cannot be successfully challenged.