Redundancy is NOT an Easier Message

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By Kathryn Rodgers

A client got in touch last week to ask if I could support them with a redundancy process for one of their employees. “Absolutely,” I said; “tell me a bit more about what’s happening so I can talk you through next steps.”

“Well, they’re not really doing their job properly. In fact, I’ve been getting someone else to go and re-do their work when they’ve finished.”

“OK…. Have you spoken to them about this at all?”

“No, I didn’t want to upset them.” 

This is a conversation I have fairly regularly – there’s something going wrong in the employment relationship and, rather than tackle the root cause, it feels easier and ‘nicer’ to tell the individual that they’re at risk of redundancy. After all, redundancy is a business decision based on the roles you need – it’s not personal! 

Redundancy – Be Real

Let’s be real – in a small or micro business, it IS possible for an employee to end up at risk of redundancy due to underperformance. They don’t deliver the full scope of their role, other people start picking bits up and, before you know it, there isn’t enough work to justify a dedicated position. However, that doesn’t mean that performance issues shouldn’t be picked up and addressed when they occur. It’s both commercially and ethically sensible to give people a chance to rectify any mistakes. 

Before starting a redundancy consultation, you need to be sure that you can demonstrate that the role is no longer needed due to one of the following circumstances:

 – the closure of a business;

 – the closure of a particular workplace; or

 – a ceased or diminished need for employees to carry out work of a particular kind in that workplace. 

If it feels like you’re trying to shoehorn a different set of circumstances into the legal definition of redundancy, chances are there’s something about it that doesn’t quite fit – and you’re potentially putting your business at risk of an unfair dismissal claim. 

If your circumstances DO fit the above, then remember that there are still a number of steps to follow to demonstrate a fair process:

 – Put together a simple business case to demonstrate why a change in structure is necessary, and communicate this as openly as possible

 – If you have more than one person in the same role but are only putting one of them at risk – make sure you have used objective selection criteria such as experience, skills, disciplinary record and attendance to determine who is selected

 – Set a reasonable and meaningful period of time for consultation – I’d typically recommend one week, with the option for extension

 – Give the individual at risk time to understand, question and challenge the proposal you have put forward, and deal with their questions before reaching an outcome

No-one wants to go through a redundancy process – but, with a bit of planning and the right communications, things will run a LOT smoother.

Want to make changes in your business, but not sure how to go about it? Give me a call or connect with me below for a free, no obligation chat about how I can help. 

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