In our blog last week, we looked at top tips for informing employees that their role is at risk of redundancy. Once employees have been informed of this, the employer will then commence the formal redundancy consultation process.
How a consultation process takes place will depend on certain factors, in particular how many jobs are at risk. If 20 or more jobs are at risk, there is a legal requirement for consultation to take place collectively, that is through representatives (or reps), such as trade union or other elected staff representatives. If fewer jobs are at risk, employers will consult on a one-to-one basis.
The number of jobs at risk will also affect timescales. If there are between 20 and 99 redundancies planned, the consultation must start at least 30 days before any dismissals take effect. For 100 or more redundancies, this becomes 45 days.
Regardless of how many jobs are at risk, the consultation process is an important opportunity for employees to understand what is being proposed. As such, employers will discuss with employees information such as:
- Why redundancies are being made (the business case);
- Which job or jobs are at risk;
- The plan for carrying out the redundancies, including timescales;
- How redundancy pay will be calculated.
Consultation is an opportunity for two-way communication, and so it is important that employees are given the opportunity to ask questions and make proposals, which may potentially mitigate the need for redundancies. Don’t forget, when you are undertaking a consultation process, no final decisions have yet been made, and being open to employee suggestions may benefit the business and save jobs.
During the consultation process it is also important to consider alternatives to redundancy such as other internal vacancies that may arise. If you are a larger organisation and do not have an intranet page (or similar) where all vacancies are advertised, it may be a good idea to create an internal vacancy list document that is updated and circulated to all at-risk employees each time a new vacancy is added. Employees with over two years’ service are also entitled to reasonable time off to look for alternative employment.
A question that comes up often at the moment is “Can I start a redundancy consultation process with employees who are still on furlough leave?”. Yes you can, as a consultation, meeting does not constitute them undertaking work that makes money for or provides services to the employer, but rather is discussing their employment.
Where it is proposed that some employees within a function will stay and others leave, the consultation process will also consider how employees will be selected for redundancy. Often this will be by using a selection criteria exercise. In next week’s blog, we will look at this topic in greater depth.
In the meanwhile, if you are an employer who is planning a redundancy consultation exercise and would like further guidance to ensure that you follow a fair and legally compliant process, please contact a member of the View HR team for an initial discussion.