Coronavirus (COVID-19) is having a devastating impact on many businesses and workers. Challenges to working practices, disrupted supply chains and weakening demand, are leading many employers to consider redundancy as the only survival option.
Faced with making quick decisions in a fragile economic environment, it can feel as if there are no good answers. No one wants to deliver bad news; and losing people or being made redundant is traumatic, especially for workers and their families.
We know that times are tough, and that as a last resort, employers may make redundancies. But our message is that employers should exhaust all possible alternatives before making redundancies. These often emerge from effective consultation with workers and trade unions.
Across our networks and members, we have seen joint decisions to save jobs based, for example, upon more part-time working, cuts to overtime, alternative roles, and retraining. When employers, unions and employee representatives work together, solutions can often result in retaining loyal skilled staff, and help avoid the costs of redundancy, employment tribunals and recruitment when the economy recovers.
We call on all employers considering redundancies to work with your trade unions and employees and get the process right by following these 5 principles:
1. Do it openly
There are rules for collective redundancies (those involving 20 or more staff), but whatever the scale, the sooner people understand the situation, the better for everyone.
2. Do it thoroughly
To understand what's happening, people need information and guidance. Have you trained your staff representatives in how it all works?
3. Do it genuinely
Consultation means hearing people's views before you make a decision; so be open to alternatives from individuals and/or unions; and always feed back.
4. Do it fairly
All aspects of your redundancy procedure should be conducted fairly and without any form of discrimination.
5. Do it with dignity
Losing your job has a human as a well as a business cost. The way you let people go says a lot about your organisation's values. Think about how you will handle the conversation – whether its face-to-face or remote. And remember, you may want to rehire the same person in the future.
We are asking all employers to work closely with their staff, employee representatives and unions to do all they can to look after their people as well as their business.
Help is out there. Whether or not it's the first time a business has considered redundancy or faced the challenge of restructuring, accessing Acas support and advice can be invaluable. See our advice on redundancy.
Chief Executive, Acas
Dame Carolyn Fairbairn
Director General, CBI
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