Managing staff redundancies: step by step

Step 4: Hold redundancy consultations

You must consult with your employees before finalising any redundancies.

If you do not hold genuine and meaningful consultation before making redundancies, employees could claim to an employment tribunal for unfair dismissal.

Consultation is when you talk and listen to affected employees. In collective consultation you also consult with their representatives.

You should use consultation to try and agree actions wherever possible, for example the selection criteria.

During consultation, you should discuss:

  • the changes that are needed, what you plan to do, and why
  • ways to avoid or make fewer redundancies
  • the skills and experience needed for the future
  • the criteria for selecting employees for redundancy
  • any concerns employees may have
  • how you can support and arrange time off for affected employees, for example to update their CVs and get training

Employees will often have good ideas that may help to avoid redundancies. You do not have to agree to their suggestions, but it's important to seriously consider any ideas that could reduce redundancies, otherwise employees could claim the redundancy process has been unfair.

During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, you must still consult your employees. You may need to do this remotely. There is no legal requirement to consult face to face.

If you have any questions about holding redundancy consultations you can contact the Acas helpline. We can talk through your options and explain the risks and benefits of each, but we cannot give you legal advice.

Check if you need to hold collective consultation

If you're planning to make 20 or more redundancies, you should check if you need to hold 'collective consultation'.

You might have a workplace policy or agreement that says you must collectively consult a trade union or employee representatives, no matter how many redundancies you're planning.

It can still be good practice to collectively consult even if you do not have to. It can help:

  • you to fully be involved with employees about ways to achieve the change that's needed
  • reduce negative effects on employees
  • the process be fairer and quicker
  • employees feel that any decisions are fair, and so reduce risks of legal claims

Check if you need to hold collective consultation.

How to hold individual consultation meetings

Some parts of consultation could be in small groups or team meetings.

You should meet each affected employee in private, at least once.

Meetings can be on the phone if you both agree to it and there is a clear need, for example if someone works remotely.

You should consider allowing employees to be accompanied at any one-to-one meeting. A companion can be helpful as they can:

  • give the employee support
  • be a neutral person to observe
  • speak for the employee if needed

You should make sure any managers who lead consultation meetings:

  • have had training in managing the meeting appropriately
  • are fully informed about the redundancy plans and process
  • can present the plan for the redundancy process clearly
  • can provide everyone with a questions and answers document

Download a template letter inviting an employee to a consultation meeting.

How long consultation lasts

There are no rules for how long individual consultation should last. But you should check if you have a policy or agreement in place that does have rules.

You do not need to reach an agreement for consultation to end. Consultation should be meaningful and you should be able to show you have genuinely considered any suggestions or points made by each employee, even if you do not accept them.

If there has been a TUPE transfer

If there are redundancies after a TUPE transfer, consultation can start before the transfer and continue after. But you should not select employees for redundancy before the transfer takes place.

Find out more about TUPE.

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