Consultation is when you sit down with employees to explain your planned changes and get their feedback and input.
Your plans must not be finalised at this stage and you should aim to include any employees' suggestions or ideas you agree with.
3. Consultation during coronavirus
During coronavirus you must still consult your employees. It's likely that you'll need to do this remotely. There is no legal requirement to consult face to face.
You should look for other ways to consult your employees, for example over the phone or using video or conference-calling technology.
Who you must consult
You must discuss your planned changes with each employee who could be affected. This can include employees who are not actually losing their jobs.
You must sit down with each employee individually to explain changes and get their ideas and feedback. The meeting can take place over the phone if you both agree to it and there is a clear need, for example if someone works remotely.
Download a letter template for inviting an employee to a consultation meeting.
When you must consult trade unions or employee representatives
If you’re planning to make 20 or more employees at the same workplace redundant within 90 days (large-scale or 'collective' redundancies), you must consult any recognised trade union or elected employee representatives.
You should also consult the individual employees.
If a collective consultation has already started on a separate redundancy situation in the same organisation, the same people being made redundant do not have to be added in the new proposal.
You may need to be flexible about how you arrange individual consultation. Some organisations wait until collective consultation has ended before consulting individual employees who may be at risk of redundancy. But there may be situations when it's appropriate to run collective and individual consultations at the same time.
How to consult
There are set rules for collective redundancies which you must follow. There are no set rules for consultations with fewer than 20 redundancies but it's good practice to follow the same process.
Download the Acas guide to handling large-scale redundancies (PDF, 522KB, 64 pages).
An employment tribunal could accept a claim for unfair dismissal if you cannot show you've consulted an employee or employee representatives.
You must consult any employees who are on maternity leave.
Prepare for the consultation
You should get the information ready that you're going to share.
During the consultation period you must let employees or appropriate representatives, for example a trade union or elected employee representative, know in writing:
You should also have:
- a trained person to lead the consultation
- a clear way of presenting your redundancy plan
- a questions and answers document
You can get Acas training on managing redundancies.
When to begin your consultation
It's important you do not present a finalised redundancy plan to your employees. You must leave enough time to consult them and include any of their suggestions you agree to.
You can only give an employee notice of redundancy once you’ve finished consulting everyone and a minimum period has passed. This could be 30 or 45 days depending on how many redundancies you’re making.
When to begin consultation depends on the number of redundancies.
You must include in your total:
- voluntary redundancies
- employees you’re moving into other roles
You only need to include employees who are on fixed-term contracts if you're making them redundant before the end of their contracts.
Fewer than 20 redundancies
There are no set rules around when to begin consultation before giving redundancy notices.
20 to 99 redundancies within 90 days in 1 workplace
You must begin consultation at least 30 days before giving the first redundancy notice.
100 or more redundancies within 90 days in 1 workplace
You must begin consultation at least 45 days before giving the first redundancy notice.
Notify the Redundancy Payment Service (RPS)
For collective redundancies you must let the RPS know your plans before the consultation starts.
Fill in form HR1 on GOV.UK and send it to the RPS address on the form.
You can be fined if you do not notify the RPS.
How long the consultation lasts
There are no rules for how long the consultation should last. It can last longer than the minimum periods listed above if it's a large or complex redundancy situation.
You do not need to reach agreement for the consultation to come to an end. You simply need to show that the consultation was genuine and that you aimed to reach agreement.
You must be able to show that you've listened to your employees and that you responded to questions and suggestions.
What to discuss during the consultation
Consultations allow you to explain to employees why you're planning redundancies.
You must discuss with employees:
- ways to avoid or reduce the redundancies
- how to reduce the effect of the redundancies
- how the organisation can restructure or plan for the future
- how employees are selected for redundancy
You must consider and respond to any suggestions made by employees. You can reject any ideas you do not think are reasonable but you should explain why. It's important to document all discussions and the reasons for your decisions.
You might not always be able to avoid redundancies but by working with employees you'll often be able to save jobs and come away with a better idea of how your business can plan for the future.
Information that should be shared
You should be as open as possible with unions and employee representatives. This will allow employees to feel part of the conversation.
Not providing enough information often leads to frustration and mistrust and can sometimes mean the consultation is invalid.
You should aim to provide the right level of detail for staff to understand your proposals. The information should not be so long or complex that a specialist is needed.
Consult employees individually
You would normally consult your employees after you've completed consultation with employee representatives. You can choose to overlap with individual consultations if needed.