Redundancies take place every day, and they happen for a variety of reasons. Perhaps new technological developments have rendered someone’s job obsolete, or perhaps a person finds themselves redundant because their company wants to save costs by cutting down on staff members. Whatever the reason, redundancies are an unfortunate fact of life.
Any workplace that has the threat of redundancy looming over its head is more than likely going to go through a state of disruption and lower productivity than normal. In order for a company to minimise the damage done to work productivity whilst carrying out redundancies, it is important for a good line of communication to be in place between management and company employees.
In fact, communication is not only a good idea, but it is a legal right on the part of the employees if a company plans to make twenty or more redundancies at one office over a time period of three months or less. Indeed, where this occurs, employers should also talk to individual employees, as failure to do so could lead to court cases for unfair dismissal.
When this kind of situation occurs, employers must make sure that they speak with the representatives of the employees who are likely to be affected by the redundancy measures. This doesn’t just apply to those that will be directly affected by the redundancy measures, as those that will be indirectly affected must also be spoken with.
In order to ensure that the employer has legally fulfilled its obligations to its employees (even if they are volunteers) and to avoid any claims for protective award, it is important for the employer to enter into consultation with these representatives. The employer should enter discussions concerning how to reduce the number of redundancies, ways that they can be avoiding, and minimising the amount of disruption the redundancies will cause, and should try to come to an understanding with the representatives.
Formally, the consultation process should begin at least thirty days before the redundancies begin, although employers that intend to let more than one hundred of their employees go must start conversations at least ninety days beforehand. All redundancies made by an employer should be done within a ninety day period.
Although not a legal requirement, it is advisable for an employer to create a company policy regarding redundancy procedure. This policy can be created with the help of trade unions and employee representatives, and is a good way to improve relationships between employers and employees when something as stressful as redundancy dismissals occur.
Although the content of any redundancy policy will naturally vary from company to company, the following items could be good guidelines regarding what should be included in such a document: a statement of intent, emphasising the employer’s commitment to job security; an outline of the consultation arrangements; what steps the employer will take to reduce the number of redundancies; details of the redundancy package; and information regarding appeals procedures.
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