As a result of the current Coronavirus situation you may be considering a restructure and possible redundancies. One of the most important parts of organisational restructure is consultation with your staff. Consultation gives you the means to engage and communicate with your employees and the sooner you start doing that the better!
In any redundancy procedure you are legally required to consult with your staff to look at ways to minimise or avoid redundancies. Where fewer than 20 people are being made redundant, there is no fixed period of consultation required – instead, it needs to be enough to be considered meaningful and reasonable to your particular situation. It is likely you will need more than one meeting with each employee.
What this means is that you should work out how, when and what to talk about. You should also have an open mind to any ideas put forward by your staff and give them consideration and feedback. It can be useful because your staff may give you options that you had not previously considered to avoid potential redundancies.
Examples of what you need to consult about include:
- Informing the employee of the situation, what you intend to do about it, and why.
- Ways to avoid/minimise redundancies.
- Listening to any concerns about the process.
The benefits of meaningful individual consultation include:
- A better chance of finding alternative jobs for staff.
- Increased employee morale (they will feel included and see they have an input into the process).
- Ideas and options can surface that you had not considered/identified previously.
- The opportunity for you to become aware of other relevant issues early on.
It is good practice to make a written note of the discussions and outcomes of the meeting. You should allow your employees, if they wish, to bring a trade union representative or work colleague to formal individual consultation meetings.
In any redundancy situation the immediate priority for you should be the fair and consistent treatment of the employees who are losing their jobs. However, the organisation’s ongoing effectiveness is dependent on the morale of those remaining and the communication you undertake during the consultation is key.
Your objectives in looking after the remaining workforce should be to:
- Give all staff a full explanation of the situation, including the redundancy procedure being used
- Explain the need for the changes
- Give an overview of any further reorganisation and/or changes in working arrangements
- Provide a forward-looking, positive attitude for the future and show the remaining employees the value of their role in that future
Planning and implementing an effective consultation process in a redundancy situation will ensure that all employees are kept informed, understand the process and their concerns are dealt with fairly and consistently.