What is the redundancy consultation process for employers?
Whether the decision to make redundancies is as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic or not, consulting employees on your redundancy plans is often one of the most uncomfortable and difficult conversations you can have as an employer.
Many businesses have suffered as a result of coronavirus and have sought refuge in the Government’s initiatives, such as furlough. Some organisations will have already taken the tough decision to make employees redundant, while others either rely on the job retention scheme until things either return to ‘normal’ or they have a better idea of what their business looks like in a post-pandemic world. And others will be carrying on as normal, seemingly unaffected.
Making redundancies is often a last resort. So when it comes to it, how should businesses approach it? What is the right way of implementing it from a legal point of view, let alone from an emotional one?
Consulting your staff on redundancy plans
If you do not inform employees in a redundancy situation, any layoffs you make will be deemed unfair and you could be taken to an employment tribunal.
As an employer, if you are making 20 or more employees redundant within any 90 day period at a single establishment, you must follow collective consultation rules, meaning you should inform the Redundancy Payment Service 30 days before any dismissal takes place.
If you plan on making more than 100 employees redundant, the consultation period is 45 days.
There are not currently any set rules for instances where there are fewer than 20 redundancies planned. However, it’s good practice to communicate with employees and their representatives or trade unions to avoid accusations of unfair dismissal.
How much notice do employers have to give employees?
Once redundancy consultations have taken place, you must give staff the appropriate notice and agree a leaving date.
You should give employees at least the statutory notice period, based on how long they have worked. It will usually specify the notice period in the employee’s contract of employment.
In terms of the statutory notice period, if they have worked for you for one month to two years, the notice period is at least a week. For two to 12 years, it’s a week’s notice for every year employed. And for 12 or more years, the notice is 12 weeks.
The Government’s furlough scheme ends on 30th June. So it’s important that employers are either having conversations about, or making plans for, any permanent redundancies after this period.
If you’re intending to dismiss employees, it’s vital to ensure you adhere to the consultation rules. You should also provide staff with sufficient notice, whilst maintaining communication at an organisation level.
Whether as a result of the pandemic or not, our employment law solicitors can advise you on procedures for collective redundancy to ensure that you aren’t taken to an employment tribunal by your employees.