Making Redundancies Safe
Despite Government pledges to protect budgets in the education sectors, many schools and colleges are still struggling to meet targets set in relation to staffing costs. For some, with reluctance, redundancies are the only available option to ensure financial objectives are met.
This task can be onerous and fraught with danger unless a robust and fair process is followed. Below should give some guidance on how to navigate this sometimes risky area of law.
- Check your internal procedures
You may have a separate redundancy policy or a policy within your employee handbook. This cannot override statutory requirements so it is important to consider them together.
- Draft a persuasive business case
The business case should demonstrate the need for redundancies with as much objective evidence as possible, including organisation charts for before containing the roles to be made redundant, not the names of people. Having this done early will ensure a consistent approach through the process.
- Announce and Consult
An initial announcement should be made to all affected individuals followed by a period of two way consultation. This consultation should be meaningful and depending on the numbers involved, there may be statutory minimum time periods involved. Trade union representatives or employee representatives should be consulted as appropriate. If you are pooling employees to decide who is to be made redundant, you will also need to consult on the selection criteria.
- Informing of Redundancy
Once the decisions have been made, the final consultation meeting will be a formal meeting and the individuals have the right to be accompanied. Notice of their redundancy dismissal will need to be given – for many schools and depending on the nature of the employee’s contract, this may mean having a full term’s notice. If the consultation falls into a new term, this may be nearly two terms’ notice.
Preparation and planning are the key to a smooth process with engagement and communication with all affected through the procedure. This should then hopefully avoid further complications in what is already a difficult and emotional process.