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Applying Fair Redundancy Selection Criteria

In this latest blog on the topic of redundancy, the View HR team consider redundancy scenarios where employers need to find a fair way of selecting employees from a pool. For example, if there is a team of people who all do the same job that the business needs to reduce from five to three, how you fairly decide who stays and who goes?

Historically, some companies have used the ‘last in, first out’ (LIFO) approach, however, this can be a risk to the business, as you may end up losing a really talented employee. It may also inadvertently discriminate based on age, as younger employees will not have had an opportunity to build up long service with the organisation.

As such, a selection criteria is more likely to be a suitable method of making decisions.  This is a scoring exercise that is applied to all of the employees in the pool, to determine who has the most valuable skills, behaviours and experience.  Here are some of the questions employers most commonly ask the team at View HR about how to create and implement a fair selection criteria exercise:

What things get scored in a selection criteria?

There are a range of things you may wish to include, such as job-specific skills (e.g. being able to use a specific piece of equipment), live disciplinary warnings, ability to undertake work in other areas of the business, performance against targets, etc.  Where possible, try to pick things that can be objectively verified (e.g. “your customer satisfaction score is 98%”), rather than entirely subjective things (e.g. “you are always very cheerful around the office”).

Can we include sickness absence?

Yes, sickness absence records can be included.  However, if an employee has a disability, or the time off was due to a pregnancy-related illness, time off specifically for these reasons should not be counted in the score, as there is a risk of discrimination. 

Should I discuss the selection criteria with employees before scoring?

Asking employees for views and questions about the proposed selection criteria can lead to them making valuable suggestions that the employer may want to take into account (e.g. “Working with such-and-such software is a big part of the job, should that be included?”). By taking employee views into consideration, this may also lessen the likelihood of employees challenging the selection criteria at a later stage. If an employer is consulting collectively , they should consult with representatives on the selection criteria before it is applied.

Who decides the scores (and how)?

It may be appropriate to include people who work closely with the employees being scored, such as shift supervisors, as they will be able to give a well-informed opinion, however, care should be taken regarding confidentiality.  You should not invite other people from the same pool of employees who are at risk to score each other.  It may be that you will need to involve HR or payroll also, to ensure that accurate records are used, e.g. for attendance.

Before you start scoring, you should decide on a scoring system and consistently use that.  So if you decide that 1 / 5 is the score for a live final written warning, don’t then say “he’s a good guy really, so I’ll give them 2 / 5 instead” if somebody you like has a live final warning.

Can employees see their own scores?

Yes.  Some employees may want to challenge their scores, and so this is why it is important to set objective criteria and to be consistent, so you can justify the scores you have given.  Sometimes there may be a valid reason for changing an employee’s score if something comes to light that you were not previously aware of, such as a skill that may be valuable elsewhere in the business that they had not previously made you aware of.

Can employees see the scores given to their colleagues?

No.  Scores are confidential to each employee, and sharing them would not only breach confidentiality, but could also lead to some unhealthy and unhelpful disputes (e.g. “What do you mean you gave him 4 / 5, he’s so lazy!”).

A selection criteria will not apply in all cases, however.  For example, it may be that only one person undertakes a specific role, and so there is nobody to put them in a pool with.  Alternatively, a selection criteria is unlikely to be relevant when closing an entire department or even the whole business. 

If you are an employer and would like advice on whether to use a selection criteria, and what to include, please contact View HR for a discussion.