Raised temperatures with redundancy

 

In the UK in 2008, we experienced an incredible spike in numbers of employees being made redundant and Jaluch supported many clients with redundancy projects. Although we never expected that from then until now, redundancy activity would continue at the level it has, we might even suggest it has picked up yet again in 2013.

One big difference between 2008 and 2013 is that many companies are now so familiar with redundancies that they are no longer seeking legal advice on individual issues or with one off projects. This is good for keeping costs down, but not so good if things are forgotten or if inexperienced managers are getting involved.

In this two minute HR blast we aim to give you a few tips and pointers to ensure any redundancies you manage don’t cause raised temperatures within the organisation as a result of appeals, tribunal claims or any costly compensation awards if procedures have not been followed.

Selection Pools
We still see managers being creative with the selection of pools, to ensure the people they want to leave the business are in the ‘pool’ and people they want to stay are not. Employees know this happens and tribunals do too, so don’t get lazy and get caught out by manipulating selection pools.

Also, due to a heads down rather than heads up approach we also see selection pools being created which don’t take into account the bigger picture. Typically we see managers just not thinking about things such as the fact that there could be staff doing similar roles in a site five miles down the road, that both day shift and night shift staff ought to go in the pool or even that managers as well as staff ought to be in the pool etc.

Communication
Managers continue to forget those on long term sick and maternity leave. This always causes bad feeling but is totally avoidable if you manage a redundancy process well. Don’t risk a grievance due to poor communication when you are in the middle of a redundancy project. It’s not worth the impact on blood pressure.

Women on maternity
Frozen with fear about being sued for sex discrimination, many managers simply fail to include women on maternity leave in any redundancy process. But you can’t simply fail to include people. Managers must be encouraged to make a business decision about whether someone on maternity leave ought to be in the pool or not in the pool. Sitting on the fence doesn’t help.

Time to go
We frequently find that organisations are not allowing enough time for the redundancy process to be worked through adequately. In a recent case, the whole process from beginning to end took just five days. It’s important if you wish to avoid unfair dismissal claims, dismissal appeals and poor employee relations, to take adequate time during the information, consultation and dismissal process. Don’t cut corners and rush it just because you decided on Monday you wanted it to be done by Friday!

Performance redundancy
Unfortunately in law there is no concept of a redundancy on grounds of poor performance. Clearly thousands of managers though believe that there is! A poorly performing member of staff should be disciplined on grounds of poor performance and if necessary, then dismissed on grounds of poor performance. Redundancy does not come into it!

Feelings
With so much on managers’ plates it is not surprising that some managers view the meetings, consultation and paperwork as just a tick box exercise to be done as quickly as possible. But in speeding through the process, what we see is insufficient time being given to listen and respond to employees’ feelings about what is happening. Managers might say that feelings are irrelevant as long as the procedure is followed, but it is a reality that people make appeals and bring tribunal cases because they feel aggrieved – whatever the rights or wrongs of their situation. Not taking feelings into consideration due to too much haste is a false economy.

Equal and fair
All too often different employees in the selection pool can have different experiences from the same manager. Some are treated well, others with disdain, some communicated with, others virtually ignored, some offered alternative work, others offered nothing, some offered a pay off, others offered just notice pay. Playing fast and loose like this when the law requires you to treat staff equally and fairly during this process is going to result in costly tribunal claims so however tempting it is to seek to support those you feel merit your support, don’t do it!

The aftermath
Managers often focus all of their attention on the redundancy project. However equal energy needs to go into supporting staff who remain if you wish to keep them on board and motivated. We have often talked about survivor syndrome and how bad staff who remain can feel, but managers are still not managing this properly.

If you have any questions following this HR Blast, would like some training for any of your managers in how to effectively manage redundancies or support redundancy ‘survivors’, or if you would like some practical support with a redundancy project, please call the Jaluch advice team on 01425 479888 or contact us here.

The information contained within this article is for general guidance only and represents our understanding of employment and associated law and employee relations issues as at the date of publication. Jaluch Limited, or any of its directors or employees, cannot be held responsible for any action or inaction taken in reliance upon the contents. Specific advice should be sought on all individual matters.

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