Poor practice | 'Colleagues made aware of redundancy before I was'

'Colleagues made aware of redundancy before I was'

An employee has taken to Mumsnet claiming that colleagues were made aware of their redundancy before they were. The case has shown into sharp relief HR best practise around redundancy, support and what employers need to be aware of during a year when redundancies are making headlines.

In a post titled ‘My colleagues were made aware of my redundancy before I was’, online user Ginnyrella asked others whether it was a breach of privacy if colleagues were made aware of the redundancy decision ahead of them being informed.

User Ginnyrella wrote: “Can anyone tell me if it is a breach of privacy if my colleagues were made aware of a decision about my redundancy before I was informed?

“3 days before they hadn’t even apparently made a decision at least 3 of my colleagues were told directly from the person involved in the consultation process. Is there anything I can do about this please?”

‘Bad practice’

The post garnered several comments from other forum users including Moondust001 who said that they could complain as it was “bad practice”.

User Moondust001 added: “But it changes nothing and there's no real remedy for it. An apology if you're lucky. And given you need a reference, perhaps not the time to complain, however, justified it may be.

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In response to this, user Ginnyrella said that didn’t want their position back but were upset that “throughout the consultation process I really showed that I wanted my job”.

The user added: “But it seems the decision had already been premeditated and then passed around like idle gossip. It’s my business to know, no one else’s.”

This is similar to a story which HR Grapevine reported on earlier this year where some Cineworld staff claimed they found out they had been sacked via Twitter.

How HR can handle redundancies

Although the Mumsnet example didn’t explicitly cite coronavirus in the post, the crisis has seen many employees made redundant during this time.

Yet, CIPD official guidance said that redundancy, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic, should be a “last resort”.

Even during the coronavirus crisis, the CIPD added that the usual redundancy process 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.

In a previous interview with HR Grapevine, Chris Phillips, Employment Law Specialist at Thornton, said that people teams should be aware of the psychological impact that redundancy can have on employees.

With Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures confirming a 20% shrink in the economy, the legal expert said that this is ‘frightening’ for those working remotely or on furlough.

He said: “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," he concluded.

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