The steps to take for making redundancies during COVID

December 15, 2020

The Coronavirus pandemic has had some devastating consequences for businesses.

Whilst enterprises have valiantly rose to the challenges posed by ‘the new normal’ and workers have become champions in the juggling act that is home-working, there are sadly some companies left planning for survival.

Redundancies may be required, and this is never a pleasant task, but what exactly are the rules about taking such steps during such unusual times?

Firstly, there are no laws AGAINST making redundancies during the pandemic.

But caution is advised as the added complication of announcing redundancies remotely whilst employees are home working adds an extra element of risk to an already delicate process.

We understand entirely that making redundancies is the last thing you want when things are so difficult, but here are a few notes to keep you on the right track –and to keep things legal and fair:

Generally

•The breaking of news such as this should be face-to-face, however under current circumstances it may need to be done remotely-first preference is by video call, but via telephone is an acceptable alternative (email is entirely inappropriate and would not constitute ‘meaningful communication’).

•Stick rigidly to existing company procedure and ensure that you follow the process to the letter, keeping all communications simple and clear.

•Make sure redundancy is indeed your last option and be prepared to illustrate that you have explored all possibilities–remember, it is the role which is being made redundant, not the individual.

•Keep an accurate record of all actions and discussions to refer back to if needed.

Notification

•A phone call must be made to those employees being affected before any notice is sent out to them. •The subsequent formal letter will be confirmation of your initial discussion and of the intention to serve notice.

•The information contained within the notice is, as always, the last date of work, the notice period (if it is to be honoured), any annual leave or pay owed, details of the redundancy package and how the appeals process works.

Consultation

•Do not under any circumstances try to bypass or shorten the consultation period and risk a costly tribunal -even if the whole thing is carried out on-line or by phone, it is still an essential stage of the process.

•A‘collective consultation’ process may have to be followed if the redundancies involve20+ employees, and the relevant minimum consultation period must be adhered to.

•Consultation means just that, so nothing should be finalised prior to the meeting-there should be options to discuss with your employee(s)and you must be prepared to consider alternatives and share wider information on the future of the business.

•Appropriate responses to the suggestions made by employees during and after the meeting need to be made and these should be formally recorded.

It tends to be at the most testing of times when we find that we need extra support. Coronavirus has brought its own set of challenges and a great deal of uncertainty but at CoLaw we are always here to offer guidance to businesses of any size, regardless of their specific situation.

For more information on how we may be able to assist you and your employees contact us here.

The information provided in all of our blogs reflects only a narrative of some elements to consider on the topic. The blogs do not contain considered legal advice and should not be relied upon as advice. Please see our website terms and conditions for full details of our disclaimer. If you are interested in obtaining advice, please contact one of our lawyers who will be happy and able to advise you on your own particular circumstances.