During my 40+ year career in HR I have had to both advise and lead on in excess of 60 SME focussed redundancy programmes. I haven’t counted but would estimate that this has resulted in over 900 employees losing their jobs.
Managing a redundancy programme requires making very hard choices about your business, and the people you employ; decisions that will affect the livelihoods of employees and the continuation of your business in the short, medium, and long term.
This is why I have developed a “Managing Redundancies” business service specifically designed for SME businesses. I know what it takes to successfully manage a redundancy programme.
I appreciate that every redundancy situation is different because every business and every set of circumstances are unique. I understand the difference between the theory and the practice and the importance of ensuring that the programme is managed sensitively.
I will work with you to develop and deliver a bespoke programme prepared specifically for your business and the circumstances you are facing. As well as leading you through the process I will deal with all of the correspondence and if you wish join you in virtual meetings you have with your employees.
Working in conjunction with me will equip you with the tools and the skills that you need to lead and successfully conclude a redundancy programme with confidence.
MANAGING REDUNDANCIES – HOW I CAN WORK WITH YOU
Every redundancy programme is different because every set of circumstances that clients face are different; a “one size fits all” approach is not one that will work.
When advising clients on a prospective redundancy situation I appreciate the importance of ensuring the right balance; of being a confidant and a trusted advisor, whilst at the same time asking hard questions and helping you make and action difficult business decisions.
It’s my job to work with you, and if you wish your management team, at every stage to ensure a successful outcome. One that leaves the business in a position to move forward, the employees who are redundant feeling that they have been treated with compassion, dignity, and respect, and the employees that remain confident about being part of your team.
In my experience, there are six separate but interrelated stages to managing a redundancy programme.
Managing a redundancy programme requires agility in thought and action, there will always be the potential for unexpected events to occur. The end objective is a to have a business and a workforces that is equipped and focussed to face the challenges that lay ahead.
To achieve this every stage of the redundancy programme must be considered in detail, starting with identifying the end objective.
That is why the first question I ask a client is “what do you want to achieve here and why?”
This starts with anticipating the need for possible redundancies. Here we will review the reason for having the conversation and discuss possible alternatives that will avoid the need for redundancies.
If the need for redundancies is confirmed a thorough planning process will be undertaken. As well as considering the future structure and operation of the business, how to manage the redundancy programme will have to be meticulously planned with every stage carefully prepared.
Preparing and communicating the right message, at the right time and in the right way is essential both for those who may be leaving the business and those who will be staying.
Here we will consider what to say, how and when to say it and to whom. It involves ensuring that the correct terminology is used throughout, letters are properly crafted and issued, notes of meetings kept and communications with external third parties prepared.
Almost certainly the redundancy process will involve using a selection criteria that will determine who will be placed “at risk” of redundancy. To be effective and fair the selection criteria applied must be objective, measurable, and able to stand third party scrutiny.
Effective consultation is central to successfully managing a redundancy programme.
It involves discussing in an opened minded way the reason/s for the proposed redundancies with the objective of exploring possible alternatives to redundancy.
MANAGING REDUNDANCIES – QUESTIONS and ANSWERS
In my experience clients who are facing the prospect of having to make redundancies are mainly concerned with the practical aspects; what can I do, what can’t I do, and how do I do it?
Whilst every redundancy situation is different there are questions that arise on a regular basis. I have highlighted some of these below, accompanied with indicative answers.
How do I decide if I have to make employees redundant?
That is a decision you will make based on the current and anticipated future needs of your business. If you anticipate requiring less staff you should always consider options other than redundancy, for example a change of working hours or patterns of work or even short term salary sacrifice arrangements.
Is it the job or the person who is redundant?
Most commonly a situation of redundancy arises where the need for an employee to undertake a particular job has ceased or diminished or is expected to cease or diminish. As the need for the role to be undertaken changes so does the requirement for employees to complete this task. So, it’s the job that the employee is undertaking that is redundant.
Do I have to notify any third parties about the redundancies?
Where you are proposing to make more than 20 employees redundant within a 90 day period you have to notify the Redundancy Payments Office by way of completing and submitting form HR1. If the number of proposed redundancies is less than 20 then no official notification is required.
What is consultation, and do I have to do it?
Where you are proposing that less than 20 employees will become redundant there is not a legal requirement to consult with employees. However, I would always advise employers to consult with employees about the proposal to declare redundancies it is recommended good practice and demonstrates that you are a reasonable employer who is adopting a fair procedure in managing this situation.
Items to consult on would include the need to declare redundancies, timescale, the proposed selection procedure, and steps that can be taken to mitigate the need for redundancies.
Do I consult with all employees or just those who are at risk of redundancy?
It would advise consulting with all employees who may be at risk of redundancy. I would also advise briefing those employees who work in departments that are not effected. Communication is key to successfully managing a redundancy programme and in my experience you can never over communicate.
How long should consultation last?
Where there is not a statutory requirement to consult, it depends on how much there is to discuss. The consultation period can therefore be anything from a couple of days to a couple of weeks.
What should be included in a selection criteria
That depends on your business, however the criteria you use must always be objective, measurable and stand up to being scrutinised. Examples of reasonable criteria that could be included are job skills, disciplinary record, and occasional absenteeism, although here you will need to be careful that you are not discriminating against an employee if they have a disability.
I would advise against using subjective criteria such as attitude as it can neither be measured or readily defined.
Can’t I just tell somebody that they are redundant?
No. Even where the selection is self evident it is important to follow a fair process that includes consultation. If you don’t consider alternatives how do you know if there are any?
How and when should I communicate with employees in writing?
I would suggest at least twice. Firstly, at an appropriate time during the period of consultation to advise the employee that they are at risk of redundancy. The second letter would be sent after the consultation process has been concluded. This may be the time to give notice of termination of employment in writing.
Other letters may be required depending on how the consultation process is progressing.
Is there a good day or a bad day to make the initial announcement about redundancy?
There is certainly a good day not to start the process and that is on a Friday.
As soon as you have made the announcement it is important to start the process of consultation immediately. Ideally this should continue the following day with employees being given the opportunity to ask questions and seek clarification on what you have announced. The break of a weekend prevents this happening and in my experience breaks the momentum of discussion that is so important to successfully concluding consultation.