Dealing with redundancies is extremely difficult. Aside from the unpleasant personal aspects of having to make such a decision, your business will need to get the legalities right. To avoid an unfair dismissal or discrimination claim you will need to ensure that :-

  1. There is a genuine redundancy situation
  2. Your business has followed a fair procedure

What may appear strange is that employers are more often found to have unfairly dismissed based on getting the procedure wrong rather than a successful claim that there was no redundancy situation.

Focus on procedure

If your business has decided that you have staff whose role is no longer needed you need to ensure you carefully consider and deal with the following issues :-

  • Check your own employment contracts, policies and procedures and abide by any specific procedures in these documents
  • Consult proactively, openly and sincerely with staff potentially subject to redundancy, ensuring  that the pool of potential staff is as wide as is necessary
  • It is rarely if ever appropriate to use 1 criteria such as “last in first out” to determine who should be dismissed. You should utilize a range of criteria, which may include :-
    • disciplinary record
    • relevant skills
    • adaptability
    • profitability
    • time-keeping (although do not fall into the trap of discriminating against any staff who are absent due to disability or pregnancy)
    • the possibility of job sharing

Formally communicate with all staff potentially affected,  inviting them to meet with you and to suggest any alternatives to making them redundant. If alternatives are put forward, consider those alternatives and document your reasoning if you reject the suggestion

Once you have decided who to dismiss, communicate this formally in writing and advise the staff member of the right to appeal. If the employee appeals, ensure that you deal with the appeal properly. Including allowing the employee to be accompanied at the appeal hearing by a work colleague or trade union representative.

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