The second wave of the Coronavirus pandemic has delivered a record high of job losses across the UK; redundancy figures have risen to 370,000 as of October, the highest level since records began in 1992. Despite the UK government’s extension of the furlough scheme until the end of April 2021, the latest developments of the pandemic are such that many employers will be forced to make redundancies in the coming months of 2021.
Making an employee redundant is distinct from ordinary dismissal; when a redundancy is made, the employee is being dismissed on the basis that the employer no longer needs anyone to carry out the employee’s job. In order for a redundancy to be genuine, the employer must be able to demonstrate that the job no longer exists.
In this article, we provide a summary reminder of key rules and considerations for employers who must plan for redundancies.
When considering redundancy, the first crucial factor is that an employer must demonstrate that the employee’s job no longer exists, or that they no longer require anyone to carry out the job.
Employers should establish a clear procedure for making redundancies, which is based on a fair and objective approach when selecting employees. Where an employer is considering making an employee redundant, they must follow the statutory dismissal procedure.
In order to conduct a fair procedure, employers should give due consideration to the following factors:
- Giving notice – employers should give sufficient written notice of redundancy consultation meetings to their employees (at least two to three days). In addition, employers should provide employees with all relevant information in advance. Employers should explain the redundancy selection procedure, the selection criteria and a summary of how the criteria has been applied to each employee.
- Individual consultation – employers should conduct at least two meetings with individuals at risk of redundancy. Also, employers should allow employees to make representations about their selection for redundancy, as well as to discuss potential alternative roles.
- Collective consultation – where an employer seeks to make 20 or more employees redundant within a 90 day period, they must consult employees collectively in relation to the proposals. This consultation should take place at least 30 days before any dismissals take effect. If planning to make 100 or more redundancies, the consultation must take place at least 45 days in advance of any dismissals.
- Fair selection – when determining redundancies, it is essential that the selection of employees is objective. The selection criteria should avoid any factors which could give rise to discrimination. For example, using sickness absence as a criterion is tantamount to discrimination on the grounds of disability, or a length of service criterion could give rise to age discrimination.
- Alternative roles – employees should be notified of all vacancies within the business by the employer. Employees should either be given any suitable alternative role, or should at least have the opportunity to apply for such roles.
- Appealing the redundancy – once redundancies have been confirmed, employers should offer the affected employees a right of appeal against the redundancy decision. This also provides the employer with an opportunity to remedy any errors made in the original procedure.
It is also important that employers are aware of employee rights in relation to statutory redundancy pay and notice periods.
The Employment Law department at O’Reilly Stewart Solicitors can provide comprehensive advices for a wide variety of employers and businesses. Contact our offices for further information at Tel: 028 9032 1000 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org