Redundancies are an unfortunate necessity of any business enterprise. But during the COVID-19 pandemic, they are sadly becoming more common as business owners and managers have to let more staff go in order to cope with changing levels of demand.
Redundancies require particular sensitivity, and some owners and managers might worry about how to achieve this over remote communication. But so long as employers follow best practice guidelines for approaching the redundancy process, carrying this out remotely need not have a negative impact on either employer or employees.
Webinar: remote redundancies during lockdown
We recently spoke to Emma del Torto, Managing Director of Effective HRM and ex-employment lawyer, who spoke to us about the best way of approaching the redundancy process remotely in a webinar on remote redundancy.
The following tips come from Emma del Torto's webinar; also, in the case of any decisions on redundancy, it is advisable to consult an employment law/HR professional specifically to ensure you are compliant with employment law and making the best decision for the business.
The four C’s of redundancy
As an employer thinking about making redundancies, it is helpful to think in terms of the four C’s.
Employers should consult employees’ contracts before making any decisions regarding redundancy. For employees who have been working at your company for less than two years, it is not legally required that employers include them in a redundancy selection. These employees can be dismissed by an employer if the employer chooses to do so (employers do not have to give reason), and employees can not claim for unfair dismissal on the back of this.
Employees who have been working at a company for more than two years, however, will need to be treated differently when it comes to redundancy selections: for these employees, check what their contracts say about things like notice periods as these will need to be taken into account in the later stages of the process.
Learn more: Documenting employee discipline: how to document misconduct and employee issues
That brings us to costs. It is essential to work out things like how much statutory redundancy pay will cost for the number of redundancies you are planning to make, as this varies depending on things such as the age of employee and the length of time that they have worked at your business. It is worth noting that businesses can claim for the notice period that would usually be worked by a furloughed employee who is being made redundant. For non-furloughed employees, consider the costs involved in paying employees for their notice periods, since these might also vary depending on factors such as their role and level of seniority.
Learn more: The effects of high employee turnover
During redundancy selections, it is always important to establish an objective criteria upon which decisions as to who will be made redundant are made. Examples include taking into consideration and ranking employees based on factors such as absence rates as well as the skills required for ongoing work. It might help in sustaining employee relations to be transparent with the criteria by which employees will be considered against, but it is up to the employer whether they wish to disclose individuals' scores, as this is not mandatory.
As we emphasised in our last blog on recruiting remotely, communication is key when carrying out the redundancy process remotely. Don’t make the mistake of sending out an impersonal email to several employees at once; instead, replicate a meeting that would usually be held in the office by calling or video calling employees individually, so that they feel as though they are being treated with the respect that they deserve.
Learn more: Voluntary redundancy guide for employers
This will not only contribute to carrying out the redundancy process effectively, it will also protect your business’s reputation as you are less likely to have disgruntled ex-employees who feel as though they were not treated well during the redundancy process.
The need for good communication continues throughout every stage of the redundancy process. After announcing redundancies, employees should be given a formal consultation in which they can express their views. This is also a good opportunity for employee and employer to work together to see if a resolution can be come to that does not involve making redundancies, e.g. agreeing to work part-time or switching to a different role.
Informing employees of the outcome
Finally, be sure to follow up on the consultation with another meeting informing employees of the outcome of the redundancy selection. Employers should be especially sensitive in announcing redundancies and should be prepared for the possibility of employees appealing redundancy decisions (this would have to be carried out by somebody independent of whoever was in charge of the redundancy process).
As always, it is vital that employers remain sensitive to the needs and feelings of their employees, and that they adhere to laws surrounding discrimination and protected characteristics during every step of the redundancy process.
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Written by Kate Taylor
Kate is a Content Marketing Executive for myhrtoolkit. She is interested in SaaS platforms, automation tools for making HR easier, and strategies for keeping employees engaged.