05 November, 2010
In the current economic climate more employers are having to consider whether to make redundancies. Redundancy can be a distressing experience for both employees and employers. If an employer is in the unfortunate position of having to potentially make employees redundant, then it is important they follow a proper and fair process to avoid liability for Employment Tribunal claims.
Redundancy can be a fair reason for dismissal. Before beginning any process it is important that an employer ensures that there is a genuine redundancy situation.
Employers should act fairly in the circumstances and aim to follow a clear process providing employees with full information from the outset. This means that a fair selection criteria should be followed, consultation should occur with the potentially affected employees or elected representatives and alternatives to dismissal should be considered. Throughout the process any suitable alternative employment should be considered at all times.
Identifying employees to be selected (a selection 'pool') can be tricky and it is important that this is carefully considered and planned prior to entering into a consultation. The pool may be fairly wide and should consider the type of work which groups of employees are carrying out, job descriptions and the interchangability of different roles.
Employers must take care to ensure that the pool of employees from which employees are to be selected is fairly defined. Employees in the pool for selection are usually assessed by being marked against a selection criteria. Employees should be given full information about the selection criteria their employer is using and their own assessment.
These criteria must be fair and objective. Selection criteria may include, for example, attendance record, disciplinary record, skills and qualifications. Length of service can also be acceptable to promote loyalty but it must be only one of a number of other criteria as this could potentially be classed as age discrimination.
An employer should also take care to ensure that the criteria do not discriminate on the grounds of sex, race, disability, age, religion or belief or sexual orientation. If they do then an employer may face not only an unfair dismissal claim but also a discrimination claim.
Professional advice is important if you are contemplating making redundancies. For assistance in dealing with this or any other Employment Law matter, please contact Amy Stokes by email or call our Employment Solicitors on freephone 0800 689 0831.