Update to Our Guide to Redundancies during the Coronavirus
Businesses all across the UK have felt the devastating impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Glassdoor research suggests that up to 50% of workers in the UK are concerned for their jobs. We're here to help with our guide to redundancies during the Coronavirus.
59% of London/Birmingham employees are also worried about losing their jobs. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been a crucial tool in helping businesses retain their staff, however many organisations are having to ask themselves what life will look like after the virus subsides - and many have come to the unfortunate conclusion that redundancies may be necessary.
Redundancies (or layoffs) refer to the state of being no longer in employment because there is no more work available. It is an unfortunate and often awkward conversation to have with employees, especially in the current unpredictable climate.
Below, we have collated some of our top advice on conducting redundancies during the coronavirus, covering how to be fair, transparent and legally compliant.
Firstly, it is important to note that redundancy rights apply to all those who are legally classed as employees and have been working with you for over two years. Secondly, Coronavirus does not make it impossible for employers to follow a fair process involving reasonable consultation, fair selection and consideration of suitable alternative employment. If it is stated in an employee’s contract, you are allowed to ask them to take unpaid leave, become redundant or to stay at home when you cannot provide them with paid work.
If you need to make employees redundant, legally you must:
- Give as much notice as reasonably possible to employees
- Keep paying employees until they leave their job
- Provide redundancy pay if employees are contractually entitled to it
- Provide the details of each redundancy in writing
Employees will usually carry on working until the end of their notice. How much notice you must give will depend on how long the employee has worked for the you. Statutory notice applies to employees who have been working for over a month. You may wish to give more than the statutory notice, but you cannot give less.
|Time worked||Minimum notice to give|
|1 month - 2 years||1 week|
|2 to 12 years||1 week for each year worked|
|12 years or more||12 weeks|
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Consultation is a legal requirement of the redundancy process and is often the most difficult part. It is usual for managers to feel awkward about telling employees that they are losing their jobs when they have done nothing wrong, but consulting with empathy and understanding can help mitigate the consequences of letting staff go – especially in a time when businesses are being judged for how they handle their staff in the pandemic.
Under usual circumstances, you’d have a face-to-face meeting with the employee in question - redundancies during coronavirus however, it is likely that remote consultation will be safer and more convenient, this may include phone calls or video or conference technology. Coronavirus induced social distancing is arguably an appropriate reason to request that consultation should be carried out remotely.
Legally you must meet the employee being made redundant at least once, however it is likely that multiple meetings may be required to answer any questions or requests. Consultation is a chance for you to talk about incoming changes and explain why employees are at risk of redundancy, so spend a respectable amount of time on this part, as simply rushing through may seem inconsiderate.
Areas for discussion may include:
- What you’re doing to avoid or reduce redundancies
- The selection process for redundancies (to avoid discrimination)
- Time off to look for a new employment
- How you intend to mitigate consequences
- How the organisation can restructure or plan for the future
Although employees should be given the opportunity to suggest arrangements or make requests, you are not obligated to carry out any of these suggestions. The best thing you can do is show that you’ve listened to the employee, considered their ideas, and try to come to an agreement. Employees can appeal against redundancy if they believe they have not been consulted fairly.
If you need to make more than twenty people redundant within ninety days (within a single organisation) it's known as a collective redundancy which has its own set of conventions.
You must consult staff representatives, such as trade unions, as well as speaking to staff individually. Following up with individual consultation adds a more personal touch to the process and allows for a safer environment to ask individual questions.
During the consultation you must let the employee and representatives know in writing:
- Why you need to make redundancies
- Which jobs are at risk
- The number of people who could be involved
- Details of the selections process
- The method of calculating redundancy pay
- Details of agency workers, how many, where they’re working and the type of work they’re doing
It would help to prepare the information that you're going to share. You may also benefit from involving a trained person to lead the consultation, a clear way of presenting your redundancy plan and a questions and answers document.
Updated Furlough guidance suggests that: "The government is reviewing whether employers should be eligible to claim for employees serving contractual or statutory notice periods and will change the approach for claim periods starting on or after 1 December 2020."
Resultantly, if you're thinking about making an employee redundant and still intend to furlough them whilst serving notice, you have to give notice before 1 December for them to be eligible. This is inclusive of retirement and resignations. We have a wealth of experience in managing the redundancy process, including how to incorporate furlough into this. Feel free to get in contact if you require support with this.
While redundancies are eventually gotten over, it is often the method of communication that has the most memorable impact on the employee. Therefore, consider the reputation of your organisation and how delivering redundancy news could impact this – In the uncertain economic times ahead of the pandemic, high end brand reputation is something that may be useful to maintain loyal customers and retain high end staff.
Common sense, empathy and compassion are key to avoiding negative press and reputational damage. Reed research shows that 73% of applicants stated that a negative recruitment process would impact on their relationship with an organisation’s brand. 33% would be less likely to use the products or experiences of organisations with whom they have had bad experiences. 38% said they would share these negative experiences with friends and family.
Other areas to consider when making redundancies include:
- Keeping tabs on confidentiality – Nobody wants to find out their job is gone on social media
- Consider arrangements if employees are entitled to bring someone with them to consultations
- Consider wording and scripting to ensure the same information goes out consistently to each employee
While redundancies are undoubtedly a tricky and awkward process to have to undertake, there are certain steps you can take to soften the blow and establish yourself as an empathetic and helpful employer. Firstly, think about if the employee’s skillset aligns with any other internal vacancies – Redundancy should be the last resort if they cannot be used elsewhere. Secondly, offer help with the employees next steps, this could include anything from transition workshops to helping them polish up their CV.
At Amica HR, we provide all levels of support around redundancies. From offering advice, to managing the whole process with you. If you require support around redundancies, or if you want to find out how we can work in partnership with you to benefit your business, you can contact a member of the team on 01522 370190 or 020 7110 0006 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org .