More employers are having to make redundancies due to COVID-19, but how should they be handled? Here we take a look at getting the process right.
Unfortunately, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, some employers have had to consider making redundancies amongst their workforce. As an employer, you need to make sure you’re getting the process of making workers redundant right if you’re to avoid being sued for unfair dismissal.

Defining Redundancy

Redundancy can be defined as a situation when the work usually performed by an employee has diminished or ceased, or their workplace has closed down. Redundancy is one type of dismissal, but for it to be considered fair, employers have to go through specific processes of consultation and selection before dismissal, as well as consideration of affected employees for suitable alternative roles.

Making Several Employees Redundant

If you need to make twenty employees or more redundant in any 90-day rolling period you have to consult with elected representatives or trade unions before you take any steps. This is because employees may go to an Employment Tribunal complaining that you failed to consult with them properly, and in such cases, penalties may be imposed. The consultation period has to last for a minimum of 30 days before you can give notice of terminating their employment. In cases where you need to make fewer than twenty workers redundant, you still need to give employees enough time for consideration of their position. The process may be shorter than 30 days.

The Consultation Process Outlined

You should begin the consultation process by meeting with the affected employees and explaining why you’re thinking about making redundancies. At this stage, you need to clarify that no decision has been taken as yet about whether compulsory redundancies will be made. You should also ask them for their proposals to avoid making redundancies. You could consider accepting voluntary redundancies, but if nobody volunteers, you should invite the employees back to another meeting. At this stage, you can ask them for their proposals to avoid making redundancies. They may offer to work fewer hours, take a pay cut or some other viable alternative which may render redundancies unnecessary.

Confirming Redundancies To Your Workforce

Once the consultation process is complete, you may still consider redundancies are the only option. If so, you have to confirm it with your employees. Should there be several candidates for redundancy, you need them to go through a process of fair selection to choose the most appropriate individual to be let go. You will, however, have to justify the decision you make on objective grounds. Normally there will be certain criteria which respective employees will be marked against.

Informing Employees About Their Redundancy

Once the selection process has been carried out you have to tell the selected employees via letter that their employment is being terminated due to redundancy. You need to consider whether you have any alternative suitable roles that the employee could undertake, and advise them accordingly. You’re not obliged to create new roles for redundant employees. Should an employee decide to take an offer of alternative employment at your company, they will no longer be redundant as they will still be your employee.