Redundancy occurs when a firm finds that it has a ‘diminished need for work of a particular kind’. That ‘diminished need’ can occur for many reasons. When a firm decides that it does indeed have need of less labour, it must follow its own published procedures in making staff redundant and these procedures must be fair and lawful. Whilst there is much published on redundancy at Acas and BIS and others, there is little on procedures. Managers are left deciphering redundancy policies to deduce a way of working. It's crucial that the firm has a valid, fair redundancy procedure. When making roles redundancy, this should be followed diligently.
Unless managers have experienced multiple economic downturns, they will not be used to making staff redundant. It’s a highly stressful time for all – and management most of all. When stressed, we all need documented operating procedures. However well trained, we can’t effectively build a procedure in the thick of action. We need to build a redundancy procedure now, while the business is holding its own. So our recommendation is “act now, implement a redundancy procedure and plan never to use it”.
Facets of a Good Redundancy Procedure
There are several characteristics of a good procedure:
- The procedure must be complete, guiding the manager all the way from the trigger to investigate redundancies as a solution to financial problems through to achieving re-engaged staff that remain.
- It must be easily understood. That is, a manager should be able to ‘get it’ early on. It’s a very complicated business with several critical timings that must be got right. It must therefore be hierarchical: simple at the highest level and getting more detailed as the manager drills down.
- There are many template documents used during the procedure and these must be linked to activities within the procedure. The manager must know what to use when.
- The procedure must be usable as a checklist to give confidence that the procedure is being followed. Many tribunals find against the firm simply because it didn’t follow its own procedure. Managers must be guided so that they do everything needed.
There are many ways of building a procedure. Doing it in text is possibly the worst way. Imagine pulling down the procedure when it’s needed in three years’ time and having to read a tome to try to assimilate a complex process! Find a method of expressing the procedure that helps managers follow it. Call TimelessTime if you need help here.
Integrating the Redundancy Procedure
The published documentation on the web is confusing. It mixes three documents that need to be separate: the redundancy policy, the redundancy procedure and the managers’ guidelines.
The policy sets out the firm’s values and how these values will be applied during redundancy. Generally the first key element of the policy is that the firm is committed to continuing employment for all and that it will investigate alternatives to redundancy. The second is that the firm will be fair in all its decisions and dealings with its people.
The policy is generally an issued document that is not changed lightly. It may be in employment handbooks, though that’s not a good place for it – the handbook then needs to be re-released every time a change to policy is made. Much of the information in published web documents falls in to a ‘how to’ category and needs to be separated from the policy and procedure. We find that the best place for this type of lighter text is in a managers’ guideline.
A managers’ guideline is simple: it’s how to run the redundancy procedure and ensure compliance with the policy.
Training It All In
With this type of documentation in place, the HR consultant or business partner can easily train managers. The course content can revolve around walking through the redundancy procedure using conventional training techniques along with role play and acted scenarios. That way managers experience what it’s like going through the consultations and meetings against the clock, deciding what to do and referencing redundancy policy, redundancy procedure and managers' guidelines as needed. That way, managers experience the emotions and remember.
Don’t wait until you need it. Build the redundancy procedure and train it in now.
TimelessTime consultants are in the (unfortunate) position of having supported managers in making many hundreds of staff redundant, from individuals to collective redundancies affecting hundreds. Call us for help.