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Help for small firms

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

Handling small-scale redundancies - Real-life situation: Avoiding redundancies

You run a small bakery, employing 18 staff over three shifts on a rota system. Orders have tailed off over the past six months and some of your employees are beginning to ask questions about job security.

Cash-flow is now a problem and while you know the matter needs addressing without delay you are daunted by both the process and cost of making redundancies.

What do you do next?

You meet with the Bakery Manager and brief her on the situation. She is relieved to discuss the problems with you. You agree that the afternoon shift is most affected by reduced demand. In contrast, she explains that the morning shift is so busy and understaffed that serious mistakes are being made. This is causing unrest between colleagues on different shifts. The Bakery Manager also mentions that some staff members regularly swap shifts for personal reasons such as school runs and caring responsibilities.

Between you, you decide that a change in shift patterns could resolve the situation. You need more people during the mornings, a skeleton afternoon shift and a slight reduction in numbers on nights. Together, you draw up a basic plan of how many staff are needed on each shift and then agree how to discuss this with staff.

You go on to have group meetings with each shift, explaining the gravity of the situation and that introducing a new shift pattern could avoid any redundancies. Some staff are concerned and you explain that you will discuss your proposals individually with everyone. You also emphasise this is an opportunity for them to make suggestions and that you welcome their input.

Within a week you have one-to-one meetings and find ideas you had not considered - for example, flexible workers opting for just one shift lose their shift allowance. You draw up detailed proposals and have further meetings. You agree new contracts with staff and appoint a supervisor to oversee the new rota system.

Three months later, the new rota is working well, teething problems have been resolved, staff are engaged and fewer mistakes are leading to an increase in orders. You thank staff for their commitment and involvement in the process.

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