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If you’re having to navigate challenging decisions and potential business change, voluntary redundancy (VR) is a route recognised by tribunals as a way of lawfully avoiding compulsory job losses.

So, should you be asking for volunteers?

Why volunteer? – you’ll likely need some form of incentive 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 the flexibility to offer a package that’s right for the business, but also tempting for employees.

Offer at any stage – VR can be offered at any point in the redundancy process. Usually though, you would offer VR at the beginning of a process as those who volunteer will not need to be taken through the remaining process.

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 VR. Be clear that you’re not prejudging the situation and ensure that your offer of VR doesn’t in any way discriminate against anyone with a protected characteristic.

Setting a deadline – usually a good idea! One of the big incentives for you to offer VR 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 VR.

Pooling employees – if you’re doing so because you have more employees than roles available, think carefully before you offer VR (particularly if the VR 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 take advice before offering VR to ensure you’re doing so fairly, and reducing the risk of possible unfair dismissal claims. We have solutions to support – get in touch.
This update is accurate on the date it was published, 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.