The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ends on 30 September and so could thousands of jobs as economic uncertainty forced employers to consider redundancies.
At the outset of the Scheme in April 2020, a different type of pressure exerted itself on the jobs market where employers, some may say, panicked by cutting their headcounts. A different outlook is expected as the furlough scheme starts to come to an end, but the consequences are expected to be the same – job cuts.
A survey carried out by the British Chamber of Commerce found that one in five businesses plan on letting staff go in response to the furlough policy change. A quarter said they would aim to reduce hours or move staff to part-time working patterns.
If it becomes inevitable that redundancies are required, then employers will be wise to ensure they firstly have strong business reasons for their actions, and to ensure it is affordable. The law expects a ‘diminution or cessation of the role’, not just a temporary lull as effective lay off clauses can accommodate this.
The message for any redundancy process is consultation, consultation, consultation, oh, and fairness. If a selection matrix is required to decipher the best resources to retain in a pool situation, then stick to objective evidence, such as qualifications, skills and abilities, not subjective views and opinions. If you can, also keep away from the length of service and medical records, as they could be discriminatory. There are also some standard rights, such as companions at meetings and an appeal process which must be afforded.
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Believe me, redundancy can be done well, and when it is then anyone leaving goes in a very amicable appreciative mindset. But redundancy can also be done badly, and then this usually results in animosity and ultimately tribunal claims. It’s worth spending time to consider if compulsory redundancies can be overcome. The costs are both financial and emotional for everyone involved.
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Employment Law Director