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Restructures, redundancy and re-shaping roles series

Redundancy series update #6 – adapting to remote consultation

Posted on: August 26th, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

Without doubt, consulting remotely is more challenging than face to face conversation. Whether it’s adjustments for disabled employees, poor WiFi connections or challenges with engagement, they all need to be considered in advance.

Here are our top tips to communicating and consulting through a redundancy process:

Make sure your first redundancy announcement is face to face – whether a video or group online meeting, it’s important everyone is told together about proposals for redundancies and they see you’re taking responsibility for your decisions.

Pre-empt technical issues – check the tech, ensure everyone has access to good WiFi, consider alternatives for those with tech challenges including in person meetings, more time for preparation and whether telephone calls would be better for some.

Companion challenges –it can be difficult to arrange a companion when everyone is attending the office so it’s an even greater challenge when individuals are working remotely. Think about how individuals at risk will make contact with their preferred companion, how they can discuss matters in advance of any meetings and where it proves too difficult, what support you can offer the individual with arranging their companion.

Creating a quiet space and time – personal challenges haven’t disappeared. Ensure that those with responsibilities at home are able to create time and space for a redundancy consultation meeting rather than multi-tasking.

Make time for absent employees – whether absence is due to furlough, ill health or family related leave, all employees must have been consulted with where they are at risk (and even if they’re not they’ll want to understand about major changes within your organisation).

Note meetings – while recording the meeting (with advance consent) is fine, our view is a recording can alter the tone of the meeting meaning managers are on edge and employees don’t communicate as they normally would. Having a note-taker is traditionally the route to a record of the meeting and still works well even if the meeting is remote

Get in touch if you need to discuss your remote consultation arrangements, or if you have any questions on what we’ve covered. In update #7 of this series we’re going to look at pooling employees appropriately. 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (27 August 2020), but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.

Redundancy series update #5 – should you be asking for volunteers?

Posted on: August 20th, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

Voluntary redundancy is a route recognised by tribunals as a way of lawfully avoiding compulsory job losses. 

Here’s what you need to know:

  1. It can be offered at any point – voluntary redundancy can be offered at any point in the redundancy process. Usually though, you would offer voluntary redundancy at the beginning of a process as those who volunteer will not need to be taken through the remaining process.
  2. Why volunteer – avoiding the redundancy process is one incentive to volunteering, but usually you’ll need to offer a little more than that if employees are going to offer to leave. Whether it’s a lump-sum tax-free payment, payment in lieu of notice, or holiday pay rather than forcing individuals to take holiday during notice, you generally have flexibility to offer a package that’s right for the business, but also tempting for employees.
  3. Unfair dismissal – don’t forget that even if employees volunteer for redundancy, in law they’re classed as “dismissed” and so are still able to claim unfair dismissal. You therefore need to think carefully about how you frame the offer of voluntary redundancy. Be clear that you’re not prejudging the situation and ensure that your offer of voluntary redundancy doesn’t in any way discriminate against anyone with a protected characteristic.
  4. Setting a deadline – usually a good idea! One of the big incentives for you to offer voluntary redundancy is that you’re unlikely to have to continue with the redundancy process for those volunteering. If however, you’re still going to have to go through the process then the longer their decision takes, the less benefit there is to you offering voluntary redundancy.
  5. Pooling employees – if you’re doing so because you have more employees than roles available, think carefully before you offer voluntary redundancy (particularly if the voluntary redundancy offer comes before the scoring process). If individuals volunteer who you’d have preferred to keep, turning down their offer may show that you have prejudged the process and is likely to taint the rest of the discussions making successful unfair dismissal claims likely.

Always seek advice before offering voluntary redundancy to ensure you’re doing so fairly, and reducing the risk of possible unfair dismissal claims. In update #6 of this series, we’re going to look at pooling employees appropriately. 

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (20 August 2020), but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.

Redundancy series update #4 – redundancy consultation

Posted on: August 18th, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

Consultation is key to a fair redundancy process. But there’s more to consultation than the legal process – communication throughout is key to reducing disruption and keeping your best people.

Here are our top five tips to starting an engaging, fair and transparent redundancy process.

Cut out the rumours – prior to the first announcement, carefully plan the message that you want to land with every one of your employees (or at least those who will hear about the redundancies) in respect of the changes that you’re proposing. Start the communication process by ensuring that everyone is given the same message about the reasons for the proposed changes, those potentially affected and next steps.

Straight-talking, clear messaging is key –  rehearse carefully your key reasons for the possible changes. Be clear that the outcome is not predetermined and this is the start of a process designed to avoid redundancies. Be clear on the support available, when updates will be provided and how the end of the process will be communicated

Choose a communication method which works for your employees – whether it’s a video making the announcement about the start of a redundancy process, messaging from managers to their team or an online meeting, be sure to choose communication tools that work for your employees.

Shout out support – everyone deals with change differently. Whether an employee is at risk or just unsettled, shout out the routes to support that you can offer. Whether it’s an EAP help line, financial support, or offers of counselling, be sure to remind employees regularly of the support available.

Keep on top of frequently asked questions – there’s a huge amount of information your employees will need to digest in the early stage of redundancy consultations. You’ll have many questions raised about the process, the payments, the alternatives and the fairness. Be ready to deliver the answers to those questions at the right time, in the right way and consider whether an up to date frequently asked questions page on your intranet is a good way to deal with questions asked by many.

In update #5 of the series we’ll be looking at voluntary redundancy.

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (18 August 2020), but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.

Series update #3 – be clear on your reasons

Posted on: August 6th, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

Whether you have a reduced requirement for employees to do work of a particular kind (redundancy) or you’re asking employees to change their hours or responsibilities, you need to be clear on your reasons.

Legally, you have considerable flexibility in arriving at your reasons but if you don’t communicate them effectively, a disrupted process and an increase in claims is likely.

Focus on business needs 

Consider business priorities, whether annual plans are on track and if not how they need to be adjusted. Is there reducing demand or increasing requirements, do particular roles need reshaping or are they no longer affordable. These will be the reasons a tribunal reviews in deciding whether your reasons for changes were genuine or whether you’re really dismissing for another reason (e.g. poor performance) but disguising the dismissal as redundancy.

No legal requirement

Although legally there is no need to demonstrate how you have arrived at your business reasons, it’s good practice so that employees accept your reasons are genuine. Sharing facts is useful – think basic spreadsheets, year on year figures, slide shows, customer testimonials. Allow challenge, be open and honest with your responses.

TUPE

If you’re reason for change is outplacement, you’ll need to take advice on whether you’re creating a TUPE transfer. However genuine your reasons, if outplacement creates a TUPE transfer you’ll need to take extra care when reshaping or making redundancies as employees subject to TUPE transfers are afforded enhanced employment law protection.

Geography

If demand in a geographical area has shifted meaning you need to move employees to different locations, check their employment contracts. If there’s a clause allowing you to move the employee (and you’re exercising it reasonably) then you can do just that on reasonable notice. If there is no such ‘mobility clause’, your reasons for the move are important and need to be shown as genuine.

The safest option before communicating your reasons to employees is to take advice. In update #4 of the series, we’ll be looking at communication and starting the process the right way.

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (5 August 2020), but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.

Series update #2 – do we have a redundancy situation?

Posted on: August 3rd, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

You’ll need to know the answer when reshaping your business so that the process you follow is the right and lawful one. 

It’s not always intuitive, so here are a few things for you to consider:

  1. Even if you have the same amount of work, if you need fewer people to do that work, it is still likely to be a redundancy situation;
  2. If you have a reduction or cessation of a particular kind of work, but the same number of employees needed, asking employees to change what they do perhaps by reducing their role or hours may amount to a redundancy;
  3. You need to focus on the practical reality of the role and not what was written down in a job description years before (if that’s different from what’s happening on a day-to-day basis);
  4. Changes in the way of working are unlikely to amount to a redundancy situation;
  5. Adding to a role will be a redundancy situation if it means that the particular kind of work that the employee is doing is disappearing or reducing.

If you’re unsure as to whether you have a redundancy situation, you should always take advice. In update #3 of the series, we focus on ensuring business reasons for redundancy are chosen and communicated appropriately. 

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (4 August 2020), but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.