Redundancy consultation guide

29 April 2020

Making staff redundant is one of the hardest things an employer will ever have to do. And, in light of the coronavirus outbreak, something many may now have to face.

The last thing you want is to make matters worse by receiving accusations of discrimination or unfair dismissal, and ending up at an employment tribunal.

To this end, it’s important you are aware of the rules surrounding redundancy consultation and what to do during a consultation period.

Don’t forget, we also provide coronavirus business advice if you need support with furloughing, remote working, or redundancies.

We’ve opened our HR helplines to give employers affected by COVID-19 access to a free advice call. For quick answers to your questions, call: 0800 028 2420.

What is redundancy consultation?

The purpose of consultation isn’t only to discuss the reason for the redundancies with employees, but to discuss alternatives to redundancies.

As well as to provide a forum for employee suggestions on limiting the number (or reducing the effect) on employees at risk.

In a collective redundancy situation, you have a duty to consult on a collective basis with the representatives of the employees affected by the potential redundancy situation.

Representatives should be either a recognised trade union representative or an elected employee representative.

But is there any difference in a redundancy consultation process for both individual and collective redundancy? Ultimately, this depends on how many employees you are seeking to make redundant.

Employees have a right to collective redundancy consultation when an employer proposes to make 20 or more employees redundant at one establishment—that’s over a period of 90 days or less.

Although there’s no legal requirement to consult with smaller numbers of redundancies, it’s a good decision to do so.

Redundancy is a fair reason for dismissal. But not following a fair procedure can render the dismissal unfair.

And a lack of consultation meetings will raise the possibility of unfairness.

When does redundancy consultation start?

The amount of employees you plan to make redundant also determines the question of how much consultation for redundancy is necessary under UK redundancy law consultation periods.

These should take place in good time, in advance of any determined dismissal, and at least 30 days before the first dismissal for 20-99 employees at one establishment.

That’s over a 90-day period, or less and 45 days for 100 or more employees.

What to consider in redundancy consultations

It’s an opportunity to discuss the redundancy and why it’s happening.

You may have alternative employment opportunities in your business, so you can explain these to your employee. They may wish to take the role, furthering their time with you.

However, If there isn’t such an opening, you can offer redundancy support. For example, if you have an employee assistance programme (EAP) you can refer them to this.

You can also detail options to look for paid time off to find a new job.

Peninsula Business Services can help

Redundancy is a difficult and stressful topic, with UK employment laws and employee rights to respect.

We have over 30 years’ experience helping small and medium-sized businesses deal with this issue.

We’re here to help. Get in touch and we’ll discuss your options, which is essential during the coronavirus pandemic. Call us today: 0800 028 2420.

Redundancy consultation meeting questions to ask

Getting the redundancy consultation meeting right is key to managing these turbulent times and helping to maintain communication and fairness in this process.

When preparing for a redundancy consultation meeting, and the questions that should be considered, it’s essential not to predetermine their outcome.

Any suggestions made at consultations should be given full and serious consideration.

If an option is presented would serve to limit the number of redundancies, or remove the need for redundancies completely, and this is ignored, any dismissal on the grounds of redundancy is likely to be unfair.

Consultations should also cover information about the selection process including discussing the objective selection criteria.

There’s no set period of time required for consultations or a certain number of meetings to be held, but it’s likely that a minimum of two meetings will allow employees to reflect on earlier discussions.

It’ll also allow them to make informed responses or suggestions at later meetings.

At the final redundancy consultation meeting, you should confirm whether the redundancy is going ahead and why this is the case.

What to consider in redundancy consultation due to coronavirus

What if the redundancy is due to coronavirus? The normal rules apply, meaning you’ll still need to implement a collective redundancy procedure—if necessary.

However, you may have more options open to you to avoid the redundancy.

Such as furloughing staff as part of the Job Retention Scheme.

This is the government’s initiative that pays your employees 80% of an employee’s typical monthly wage.

Turning to this scheme can ensure you keep employees in your business, rather than having to lose talented members of staff.

So, you should consider this option before immediately assuming you’ll need to make redundancies across your business.

Need our support?

We can help you through the redundancy process—call us for immediate support: 0800 028 2420.

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