Legal | UK bosses lack confidence over redundancy decisions

UK bosses lack confidence over redundancy decisions

43% of UK business owners are not confident that they could make redundancies in line with the law, a survey from BrightHR has found.

With redundancies hitting headlines on a daily basis, a further one-third of UK businesses are projected to cut jobs in the next quarter of 2020 as the Government’s furlough scheme winds down, according to the CIPD. However, redundancies must be handled with care, or employers look set to risk breaking the law.

But how versed are businesses on the legal procedures of letting staff go?

The survey of 2,000 small business owners also found that 51% of employers were not clear on the redundancy process during or after furlough, with lots of confusion surrounding whether redundancy pay is based on employees’ normal wages or their furlough rate of pay.

How should HR handle the redundancy process post-COVID?

Official guidance from the CIPD shared that ‘redundancy should be a last resort’. “It can be one of the most distressing events an employee can experience. It requires sensitive handling by the employer to ensure fair treatment of redundant employees as well as the productivity and morale of the remaining workforce. Redundancy legislation and case law is complex, and employers must understand their obligations, including employees' rights and the correct procedures to follow,” the body’s official advice explained.

The CIPD said that, even during the coronavirus crisis, the usual process for redundancies must be followed. This means following the organisation's own procedure and all pre-conceived stages including consideration of alternatives, meaningful individual and collective consultation, selection pools and scoring, appeals, redundancy and notice period payments plus counselling and support.

Chris Phillips, Employment Law Specialist at Thornton, noted that it’s important that HR is aware of the psychological toll that redundancy can have on all employees. He stated that constant communication is the only way to mitigate negative effects on mental wellbeing.

“We’ve seen the Office for National Statistics confirm that the UK is now officially in recession following a 20% shrink in the economy in the second quarter of this year. These figures are frightening for an employee working remotely or worse, on furlough,” Phillips told HR Grapevine.

“They will be wondering if they will have a job at all in a few weeks or ever get back to work. Imagine the anxiety felt and the impact that could have on the mental health of those workers if they are also not properly supported or in regular, meaningful contact with their colleagues and managers.”


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