HR Snapshot #20: Redundancies due to Covid-19 - What You Need to Know
Posted on 16th April 2020 at 14:03
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses are facing tough commercial decisions regarding redundancies. The current government job retention (also known as the "furlough") scheme is available to employers until October 2020, but we have yet to have guidance published on the expected employer top up or how furloughed employees can be brought back on a part time basis. (Update: This Guidance is due at the end of May 2020).
Redundancy processes must be handled with care. For redundancies of 20 - 99 employees a strict redundancy consultation process should be followed. Of equal importance, is the handling of redundancy for 0 – 20 employees, to mitigate risk of employment claims or employment tribunal. The normal legal provisions still apply in relation to COVID-19 redundancies, which mean that employers are required to take steps to avoid compulsory redundancies.
Why would your business look to consider redundancies?
Unfortunately, the coronavirus situation may lead to some businesses being forced to reduce the size of its workforce to survive. Redundancy is a special form of dismissal which happens in three situations: when an employer has a reduction in the need for employees to carry out work of a particular kind, or the employer intends to cease, continuing the business at a particular workplace and the actual or intended closure of the whole business.
Here are some questions you need to ask:
Have you considered all of your alternative options to avoid compulsory redundancy in the first instance? This can include things like redeployment, flexible working, reduced working hours, voluntary redundancies, early retirement and a reduction in the use of contractors.
Do you currently have an existing redundancy policy to lean on?
Have you: Calculated the financial impact of redundancy and notice payments? Identified the pool for selection? Sought volunteers? Planned consultion with employees individually and collectively? Informed representatives? Developed a scoring matrix and selection process? Scheduled a timeline for individual meetings, appeals and confirmations of redundancies? And considered how you will provide wellbeing and outplacement support?
Things you need to know
Ensure appropriate planning when you are about to undertake a redundancy process in order to reduce risk to the business.
There are various claims employees can bring if this process is not handled with care
There are specific timelines a business must work to when going through a redundancy consultation. Depending on the number of employees affected consultation must commence either 30 days or 45 days prior to dismissals taking place.
Consider also the "survivors" of redundancy, and how your business is going to support them going forward, as well as the impact of how the redundancy process is handled on business reputation. Consider using a HR Consultant to provide post-redundancy support to effected staff with CVs and job hunting.
Avoid embarking on a redundancy process without the support of a qualified HR professional
For a confidential discussion regarding redundancy with a qualified HR Consultant, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
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