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How to approach redundancy as the furlough scheme updates

Updated: Sep 3

Last week the government made further changes to the furlough scheme with a wind down approach until the end of October. Although this will offer a number of businesses the time to rebuild, for others the reduction in funding means that redundancies will undoubtably be on the cards between now and the end of the year.

Even if you have made redundancies before, in the light of Covid-19 this is a time like no other and safeguarding the wellbeing of potentially redundant employees is extremely important.

Research shows that 70% of employees claim their past redundancy was handled in a poor manner and the majority feel that their former company should offer more support. We have focused a lot on mental health throughout the pandemic, and there is no reason why this should stop throughout the redundancy process.

In fact, approaching redundancies in a kind and human manner will show all your employees that you care about your workforce and safeguard the motivation of employees who have not been selected for redundancy. Here are our key points for you to consider when approaching redundancy as the furlough scheme changes.


1. TIMING Although the wind down approach of the furlough scheme means many businesses may want to wait and see how things develop, if you think it is likely that you will have to make redundancies, or if you have to start scaling down the business, then you should start consulting people as early as possible. A first consultation should be carried out with a view to reaching agreement with your employees on the matters discussed and should cover ways in which dismissals can be avoided or the number reduced, such as pay cuts or reductions in hours, as well as looking at the way in which employees will be selected for redundancy. The sooner this takes place, the more opportunity you will have to work through your options and mitigate any claims of unfair dismissal. If you would like more information on how to arrange and prepare for your first consultation meetings please email help@whitcombehr.co.uk and we can arrange a time to discuss your situation and next steps.


2. COMMUNICATION Being honest and communicating clearly with your employees is one of the single most important things you can do to safeguard the wellbeing of your workforce. Social media and the daily reporting of economic decline will likely mean that your employees are already beginning to worry about their future within the business. For many, the biggest impact on poor mental health is lack of control and the unknown, so don’t be afraid to tell them the truth and get feedback wherever possible.



3. CAREFUL CONSIDERATION Do not automatically place all furloughed employees into the redundancy pool. Just because someone has been furloughed, doesn’t mean that their role is any less important than someone who has continued to work within the business throughout the pandemic. Certain people are more likely to have been furloughed due to medical reasons or lack of childcare for example and this could lead to claims for discrimination and therefore you must carefully consider everyone that you are placing on your list for potential redundancy. When selecting employees from the pool, you should use criteria that are as objective as possible and, ideally, ensure that scores are moderated. Potentially redundant employees should be given the opportunity to challenge their selection for redundancy and suggest alternatives and, where possible, alternative roles should be sought within the organisation or any wider group. Employees should also be given the right to appeal against their dismissal.


4. SUGGESTIONS FROM EMPLOYEES As touched upon in our first point, do not forget to take suggestions and ideas from your employees at all stages of the process. Give them the opportunity to speak up and share their thoughts and recommendations. They may be able to spot something that you haven’t. If your employee feels included and respected throughout the redundancy process, then you have a higher chance of looking after their wellbeing and mental health.


5. SEEK VOLUNTEERS Don’t forget that you can seek volunteers for redundancy as a way of avoiding compulsory redundancies. Generally, requests for voluntary redundancy are made during individual consultation meetings. However, it is not unusual for an employer to make a general communication to their whole workforce that they are seeking workers to accept voluntary redundancy. Should an employee accept an offer, they must be informed that their acceptance does not mean that they will definitely be subject to voluntary redundancy.


6. SUPPORT & GUIDANCE Make sure that throughout the redundancy process, those who may be made redundant, or even those who may be ‘safe’ know who they can go to for support and advice. If you do not have a HR manager in place, then perhaps this is something for you to consider to further ensure the wellbeing of your workforce and to make sure you are compliant with all redundancy laws and regulations.

If you need help with your redundancy process, we can offer you templates and one to one guidance to ensure you are taking all the necessary steps needed to avoid claims of unfair dismissal.

To find out more please call 07534 359255 or email help@whitcombehr.co.uk.

For further furlough updates please keep an eye on our news page.

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