Redundancy consultation periods

09 July 2019

To ensure a fair redundancy process, you should involve affected employees in a period of consultation. This guide explains how to approach this process to ensure it’s fair for all of your workforce.

However, for any further redundancy advice, get in touch with us.

What’s a consultation period?

It’s a time during which a series of meetings can take place between you and each staff member, with a view to informing the employee of the reasons behind the redundancy. But you also have the chance to suggest any alternative courses of action, such as:

  • Lay offs.
  • Short time working.
  • Job sharing options.

The process can become more complicated if you have to lay off more than one employee. As such, below we take a look at what to do based on the number of staff members involved.

Redundancy consultation period for 1 person

There’s no minimum consultation period for 1 redundancy. In fact, there’s no prescribed legal structure regarding consultation when fewer than 20 employees are at risk of redundancy. Despite this, it may be advisable to hold a number of meetings over a few weeks to ensure the individual redundancy consultation period is as effective and meaningful as possible.

Redundancy consultation period for less than 20 employees

There’s no prescribed legal structure regarding consultation when fewer than 20 employees are at risk of redundancy. In situations where 20 or more redundancies will occur at one establishment within 90 days or less, you’re required to implement a collective (UK) redundancy consultation period. You must inform and consult with appropriate representatives of the affected employees. This could be:

  • Representatives.
  • A trade union.

Consultation meetings are usually arranged with the representatives once a message has gone out to all affected employees making the initial notification of the redundancy exercise. It’s also common to hold a group meeting to make this initial notification and then follow up with a letter to your staff setting out the consultation process.

How long is redundancy consultation period?

It depends how many staff members are potentially affected by the redundancy exercise. The statutory (UK) redundancy law consultation periods are:

  • Where between 20 and 99 redundancies will occur, consultations should begin at least 30 days before issuing notice of redundancy.
  • When the employer is proposing to dismiss 100 or more employees, consultation should begin at least 45 days before issuing notice of redundancy.

Remember that the statutory guidelines only provide an acceptable minimum redundancy consultation period and that consultation will last as long as it needs to. That ensures all suggestions by employees of alternative measures receive attention. Regardless of the collective redundancy consultation period, you’ll need to individually consult with those facing redundancy before providing any notice of dismissal. This is critical to avoid a finding of unfair dismissal. It’s also crucial that you don't issue notice to any staff members during either collective (or individual) consultation periods as that undermines the consultation process. To safely bring the contract of employment to an end, you must issue the employee with proper statutory or contractual notice.

Looking for more help?

We’ll help you to approach your consultations following the right procedures. Get in touch with us for immediate assistance: 0800 028 2420.

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