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Selecting employees for redundancy

In today's challenging economic climate, many employers are facing the difficult task of choosing who to make redundant. When drawing up selection criteria for redundancy, being aware of some common pitfalls can help you avoid claims for unfair dismissal.

When drawing up redundancy selection criteria, wherever possible, employers should try and use objective criteria which have been precisely defined and which can be applied independently. The criteria should be agreed in consultation with managers, employees and their representatives in advance of any redundancy process and a clear appeals process should be communicated. Organisations also need to choose criteria which will help maintain a workforce that can best support their future needs, so taking into account skills and experience is crucial.

So what are suitable criteria? Attendance and disciplinary records, skills and experience, standard of work performance and aptitude for work are all suitable starting points, but care must be taken to ensure that these are assessed objectively and applied fairly. Writing in HR Zone this month, Rad Kohanzad, employment lawyer at Atlantic Chambers, gives some tips for employers who are facing the task of selecting a pool of candidates for redundancy.

  • Avoid using terms such as 'flexibility', 'attitude to work' or 'commitment', as these are hard to quantify and can be subjective.
  • Try to avoid anything which could be deemed discriminatory towards certain groups - for example, assessing someone on the grounds of their 'flexibility' could be perceived as discriminatory against women or disabled employees.
  • If you're using absence as a selection criterion, avoid taking into account pregnancy and disability-related absences, or absence resulting from injury at work, as this could also be deemed discriminatory.
  • When using 'performance' as a criterion, make sure that this is backed up by annual written performance reviews to enable objective evidence-based assessment.

Whatever criteria is used and whoever is selected for redundancy organisations should be aware that proper consultation is key to avoiding employment tribunals.

Acas offers advice on redundancy for both employers and employees, including guidance on notice, rights and consultation. Training is also available to explain the law and best practice approaches to managing people through a redundancy or restructuring situation.

Visit the Acas training and business solutions area for more information.

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