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The emotional impact of collective redundancies

With the recent change in the law surrounding collective redundancies, Acas published new guidance to help employers understand their obligations and get through a difficult situation more effectively.

The pdf  Advisory booklet - Handling large-scale (collective) redundancies [508kb] was brought out with new legislation at the beginning of the financial year, which applies to employers proposing 100 or more redundancies. One of the most significant changes is reduction of the consultation period before dismissals from 90 to 45 days.

The advice stresses the importance of following agreed redundancy procedures, having a restructuring plan for the future, and maintaining good working relationships with employees and representatives. But it also recognises the heavy emotional impact of change.

This element, the advice says, concerns not only employees who are losing their jobs, but those who have to break the bad news to them, as well as those who keep their jobs.

Employees being made redundant should be informed and consulted individually and given help finding other work or training. Above all, they should be treated with dignity and respect.

Much of this is up to line managers who should be given training in handling difficult and emotional situations, and should be supported in psychologically challenging role of telling people they have lost their job. They also have the task of buoying the spirit of those who have survived a round of redundancies, lifting their morale and making sure they are part of an organisation's vision going forward.

The toll on survivors themselves needs to be addressed. A recent survey found that 65 per cent of employers reported that stress had increased on employees who had survived a redundancy programme. A similar number said it was hard to 'ensure employees continue to trust us following redundancy programmes'. It recommended additional help, such as one-to-one communication and counselling as beneficial for those affected by 'survivor syndrome'.

Acas provides practical training on Redundancy, Managing change, and Having difficult conversations. Acas has also published a useful Advisory booklet - Health, work and wellbeing.

Visit the Acas Training and Business Solutions page for more information.

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