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Help for small firms

Handling small-scale redundancies - A step-by-step guide

Handling small-scale redundancies - Be prepared: Consider alternatives

Before you start a redundancy process, consider the many alternative options you could use or combine to reduce redundancies, or even prevent them altogether.

The alternatives include:

  • Reducing or ending overtime - but check your contracts first.
  • Stop recruiting and retrain staff - this can often save you money and be better for morale.
  • Stop using contractors/casual staff/agency workers - but be clear on their employment status first.
  • Offering flexible working - employees are more productive with a better work-life balance, so offering part-time working, job shares etc can save you money and avoid redundancies. To find out more, see Acas Advisory booklet - Flexible working and work-life balance .
  • Offering voluntary redundancy/early retirement - Ask employees if they would consider these options (but don't single out individuals otherwise you could be accused of discrimination, and remember a voluntary redundancy is still a dismissal). If your most valuable members of staff volunteer, you do not have to accept their requests for redundancy.
  • Temporarily lay off employees - this is not the same as redundancy. If you have a temporary lack of work available and you already have employee agreement (or get agreement), you can 'lay off' your staff for a period of time, usually with considerably reduced pay. To find out more, see Acas Advice leaflet - Lay-offs and short-time working.
  • Temporarily place employees on short-time working - similar in practice to lay-offs, this is where, with agreement, employees are laid off for a number of days each week, or for a number of hours during a working day. To find out more, see Acas Advice leaflet - Lay-offs and short-time working.
  • Changing your staff employment contracts - Sometimes you might not want to lose your staff, but agree new terms and conditions (such as wages, hours and duties). As a last resort, you may need to impose changes (which can mean redundancies) but there are other often simpler and better alternatives. To find out more, see Acas Advice leaflet - Varying a contract of employment. Or, if you have specific questions call the Acas Helpline on 0300 123 1100.
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