Avoiding the Wrong Side of Redundancy

Schofield & Associates Employment Lawyers offer advice to employers in difficult times.

With the current economic climate as it is many employers are looking to ‘right size’ their businesses to reflect reduced levels of demand for products and services, and to enable them to grow when market conditions improve.

It is important for employers to retain essential skills within the workforce and to consider how savings may be made without loosing the ability to bounce back when the time comes to expand again.

Wage freezes may be negotiated or reductions in working hours. However, in some cases a program of redundancies may be the only answer.

In such instances employers should use a fair and objective way of selecting people to make redundant. This means that it should be based on evidence, rather than just deciding who the managing director wants to give notice to!

Remember it is the position in the business that is being lost not the individual.

If a method for deciding redundancies has been agreed with a trade union, you should follow it. Otherwise, there are some common approaches you might use on their own or in combination when selecting employees for redundancy.

  • length of service
  • asking for volunteers (self-selection)
  • disciplinary records
  • staff appraisal markings, skills, qualifications and experience

In some cases the criteria may be clear and the selection process straight forward. For example, if you are closing down a particular division of the company you will have to make all the employees working there redundant. Otherwise you might use a ‘selection pool’, by considering which group or section of the workforce the redundancies will be made from.

Again you may apply selection criteria such as experience, capability, skills and disciplinary records to narrow down the employee selected, and in doing so these must be applied fairly and objectively across the board.

As an employer you must never select people for redundancy based on race, disability, gender, marital status, religion, beliefs or sexual orientation. Neither is it acceptable to discriminate between employees on the grounds of trade union membership, age, or whether the employee is full or part-time.

It is important that you do not use personal reasons for selecting individuals for redundancy, as such the use would automatically be deemed unfair and may give rise to a claim for unfair dismissal at an Employment Tribunal’.

Further guidance on the legal aspects of re-engineering your workforce maybe obtained by contacting Eileen Schofield at Schofield & Associates, Employment Lawyers 01564 739103 or contact us here

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