Redundancy is on people’s minds more than ever before. Since the coronavirus pandemic started, the UK government has tried to mitigate these redundancies. But, unfortunately, it’s not always possible.
If you’ve done your best to follow government guidelines to save your employees and you still plan on making an employee redundant it’s important that you do it the right way.
In this post, we’re going to cover what redundancy is, whether COVID-19 has made redundancy more commonplace, and share some tips on how to make an employee redundant. So, to make sure you tackle this task the right way, read on…
What Does it Mean to Make an Employee Redundant?
Before we share our top tips on how to make an employee redundant, we’re going to briefly go over the definition of redundancy, so you know what it entails.
Redundancy is the dismissal of an employee because the employer no longer requires anyone to do their job. This could be because the business is:
- Changing what it does
- Upgrading to new technology or machinery that makes the employee’s job redundant
- Changing location or closing down
- Doesn’t have enough money to retain certain job roles
For a redundancy to be considered so, the employer must demonstrate that the employee’s job will no longer exist. This way the employer can’t use the excuse of redundancy to unfairly dismiss an employee for other reasons.
Redundancies can be compulsory or non-compulsory. This depends on whether you allow the employee to take their redundancy voluntarily or make them take it.
Employee’s Redundancy Rights
To give you an idea of the rights an employee has when you make them redundant, here’s a quick list of what you might have to provide them with:
- Redundancy pay
- A redundancy notice period
- A consultation with their employer
- The option to move into a different job role
- Time off work to look for a new job
This probably goes without saying, but do not select people for redundancy based on age, gender, disability or because the employee is pregnant. This will likely be considered unfair dismissal.
Coronavirus has obviously had a huge impact on businesses, with the Financial Times reporting that the UK economy has shrunk by a fifth since the pandemic started. The government’s Job Retention Scheme has eased the pressure somewhat, but lots of businesses are still faced with having to let employees go.
Just so you have an idea of the companies that have had to make large proportions of their staff redundant in the UK, here’s a quick list of some of them:
- Rolls-Royce: 9,000 staff
- BP: 10,000 staff
- Centrica: 5,000 staff
- Bentley: 1,000 staff
- British Airways: 12,000 staff
- The Restaurant Group: 1,500 staff
- Oasis and Warehouse: 1,800 staff
These are just a few of the major companies who have had to make redundancies. So, if you’ve found yourself in a position where you have to make some, you’re not on your own. The only thing you can do now is make sure you carry out the proecdure in a way that’s best, or least painful, for both parties.
10 Top Tips for Making an Employee Redundant
Now that we know what redundancy is, and that COVID-19 is forcing more employers than ever to consider it for their employees, it’s time to give you some tips on how to go about it. Whether you’re making one staff member redundant, or hundreds, it’s important that you try to do so with compassion and tact, which these tips will help you do.
1. Be clear and communicate your reasons effectively
The wordier and more complex the message, the more confusing it will be and the more upset it will cause. So, it’s important to make sure the message you share with your employees is as clear and consistent as possible. To do this, try and communicate the reasons why the business has to make them redundant as best as possible.
2. Preparation and practice
This might not be necessary if you’re only making a single employee redundant, because in that scenario it’s better to have an actual one-to-one conversation with the employee.
However, if you’re making several employees redundant, and you’re planning on giving a speech, prepare the script carefully and practice delivering it until you’re comfortable with what you’re saying. Also, prepare to answer questions and try not to talk too much when the staff are giving their input. It’s better to listen to their concerns and answer them effectively.
3. Avoid leaks
You don’t want to go through all the preparation, practice and honing of a clearly communicated message and have news of the redundancy get our before you’re able to deliver it. Also, there’s nothing worse than gossip getting out and causing undue stress to your employees. So, keep it as under wraps as possible before breaking the news that redundancies will be made.
4. Provide a clear end date
Whether it’s to a single member of staff, or many, giving a firm end date will make it easier for them to move on and start looking for a new job. Also, as we mentioned earlier, you might need to provide some time off for them to search for a new job, so factor that in when you plan the employee’s end date.
5. Share resources that can help your employees
There are loads of organisations that offer support for those who are made redundant, especially with COVID-19 making them more prevalent. Sharing details on where your employees can find help might help them feel less alone and anxious about being made redundant.
6. Don’t make your employees keep it a secret
Keeping word of the redundancies under wraps before they’re announced is fine, but once the employees who are going to be made redundant have been informed, don’t force them to keep it a secret from others.
It might seem like a good idea at the time, because it will stop other employees from worrying about their own jobs. That said, all it does is isolate the redundant employees further, as they won’t be able to seek support from their friends and colleagues.
7. Don’t announce redundancies before a weekend or holiday
If you make redundancies before a weekend or holiday, those employees are likely to go home and feel isolated. If you do it earlier in the week, at least they can air out their grievances with you and seek support from their colleagues.
8. Be careful when trying to make the redundancy sound positive
It’s tempting to try and make the redundancy seem like a good thing to put your employees at ease. But, being made redundant is generally a bad situation, so letting them down gently is the better approach.
For example, telling a working mother “at least you’ll have more time with your kids” isn’t a consolation. Most people will either need their job to feed their kids, or enjoy their job and will have chosen to do it for a reason. So, be sure not to make light of the situation.
9. Don’t ask your employees to stick around to finish a project
The reason you’re letting the employees go in the first place is because their job has become redundant. If you tell them they’re being made redundant and then ask them to stay on until they’ve finished a project they’re working on, it’s doesn’t reflect well on you.
10. Look after yourself
Obviously, putting the redundant employees first is a good strategy and should be implemented before you start thinking about yourself. But, don’t forget about yourself once you’ve helped out your employees.
Apart from the stress of giving the news, you’ll likely be losing colleagues and friends as well. So, getting support from others at your company might help you through it. Also, before you make the announcement, it might be good to get the backing of your company, so you know you’re not taking the burden on your own.
Are you Ready to Announce Your Redundancies?
Hopefully, after reading this post, you now have a better idea of what redundancies are, and are aware that you’re not alone in making them due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We also hope you’ve garnered some useful tips to help you make the announcement to your employees along the way.
Like we said at the start of this post, it’s never easy to make the people you see every day at the office redundant. That said, you can try your best to mitigate their suffering and your own.
Thanks for reading and good luck with the redundancies.