Economy downturn redundancies or is there an alternative

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Our Helpline has dealt with many enquiries, as was expected, regarding redundancies. There are alternatives but firstly it is important to follow rules if a redundancy process is chosen.

Author: Dennis Chapman
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This article is 13 years old.

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Our Helpline has dealt with many enquiries, as was expected, regarding redundancies. There are alternatives but firstly it is important to follow rules if a redundancy process is chosen. 

Unless the procedure is adhered to then you can face a claim of unfair dismissal. The essential elements are;

a)  Initially consult with all the workforce who could potentially be made redundant to make them aware of the fact.

b)   If there will be a selection process to choose which people will be made redundant from a ‘pool’ then you need to set up objective criteria for how the choice will be made and make this transparent to the people facing redundancy.

c)   Because it is a dismissal situation then the three stage dismissal procedure must be followed;

  • a letter of invitation to the dismissal meeting including the offer to include a colleague/Trade Union Member
  • the meeting
  • a letter afterwards including the offer of an appeal

If there are suitable alternative jobs available then these should be offered for those otherwise dismissed.

Remember that anyone being made redundant is entitled to redundancy pay (if employed for more than two years) and notice of termination (or pay in lieu).

So what are the alternatives to redundancy?

Providing it is written in the contract you can resort to lay offs and/or short time working (less than half a weeks pay).  Remember, though these are temporary arrangements.  An employee can claim statutory redundancy pay if the lay off or short timer working runs for ;

  • four consecutive weeks or longer
  • a series of six or more weeks – of which not more than three were consecutive – within a 13 week period

At times of financial difficulty for a business you may find the workforce agree to a period of reduced pay or hours rather than go through a redundancy process.  It is not out of the question to talk to the workforce and be transparent about the situation.  If you need to operate in a way that you can’t contractually do under the existing contact of employment then you can come to a new written agreement on pay/hours.

Dennis Chapman

In remembrance of Dennis Chapman 1951 -2015

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