As the nation wrestles against the economy's downturn, about 150,000 workers in the UK are taking voluntary redundancy or being made redundant every three months.
The Acas Advisory booklet - How to manage collective redundancies [801kb] will help employers look after their staff and their business when faced with the prospect of making a significant number of people redundant within a relatively short period.
It will also offer some clarity for employers, employee representatives and employees about what the law says on collective redundancy (where 20 or more employees may lose their jobs within a 90-day period at a single establishment), the impact of case law and what common sense recommends.
Additionally, many of the good management practices for dealing with collective redundancies also apply to handling individual redundancies sensitively and fairly.
Research commissioned by Acas focuses on a crucial part of downsizing and restructuring often overlooked and misunderstood by employers - the roles of the people who break the bad news about job losses and help shape how the company will look and operate afterwards.
The study, Downsizing envoys: A public/private sector comparison [278kb] has produced key advice to help employers understand better the role of the tellers, or redundancy envoys as they are called in the research.
The Acas Advisory booklet - How to manage collective redundancies [801kb] places the role of the teller within the overall context of managing redundancies effectively. It includes information on why it is so important employers think carefully about who does the telling and how they support them.
Watch our video Breaking bad news at work - The role of the redundancy envoy
The video offers employers practical advice to help managers deal with the emotions, tensions and difficult decisions of downsizing.
It includes interviews with Adrian Wakeling, Acas senior guidance editor, and Dr Ian Ashman from the Institute for Research into Organisation, Work and Employment at the University of Central Lancashire's Business School. Dr Ashman studied the experiences of envoys, or tellers as they are also called, across the public and private sectors for Acas.
Questions and Answers
Who are the tellers?
A line manager, HR executive or senior manager. The first big hurdle is the opening meeting to tell staff jobs may go. Then follows a process which can go on for weeks, with more tense meetings and challenging one-to-ones over who will leave. The tellers will liaise with those being made redundant and support them through a tough time.
Why are the tellers so important?
How well the tellers handle the role can determine whether the redundancy process becomes more difficult, or goes more smoothly than expected. It can also affect how staff staying feel about taking the organisation forward and how it performs in the future.
Why is the role so difficult?
Tellers expect a difficult time from employees at risk. Yet even so, many still struggle to cope with the range of emotion they face and must confront, sometimes over many weeks, on top of very long hours.
Also, it can be complicated being the link between employees at risk - explaining how the company's plans could affect them and dealing with the emotions involved - and then reporting back to the organisation's top-level decision makers.
Do you need additional help?
Acas also offers other booklets and advice if your organisation is facing redundancies, which include:
- Advisory booklet - Employee communications and consultation
- Advisory booklet - How to manage change
- Challenging conversations and how to manage them
- Contracts of employment
- Information and consultation of employees: ICE
Advisors on the helpline can improve your understanding of the alternatives to redundancies and the procedures for downsizing so employers comply with the law.
Acas runs courses to give managers and employment relations specialists skills needed in organisations facing redundancies on:
- Redundancy and restructuring
- Having difficult conversations
- Managing change
- Working effectively with trade unions
- Takeovers and mergers (TUPE)
Acas can tailor training for organisations and deliver it at their sites so it focuses on their own circumstances, policies and procedures.
Let us know how Acas can help you by using our online enquiry form, or call our customer services team on 08457 38 37 36.
Download the research paper, Downsizing envoys: A public/private sector comparison [278kb]. The report is by Dr Ian Ashman, from the University of Central Lancashire.
The statistic on the number of workers taking voluntary redundancy or being made redundant every three months comes from the Office for National Statistics. It covers the 12 months to May, 2012.