For many employers, furlough has been fundamental in helping businesses pay their employees during the pandemic instead of making them redundant.

Now we’re in the last month of furlough, and despite the job support scheme coming in at the start of November, employers could be faced with difficult decisions. Redundancy is usually a last resort, but it may be the only option for businesses struggling with the ongoing impact of the crisis.

With that being said, a survey conducted by YouGov last month revealed a quarter of UK businesses are not aware of the legal responsibilities involved with making redundancies. It’s important that the process as a whole is fair and compliant, so we advise people to talk to HR experts sooner rather than later.

We can take you through all the requirements and best practice processes through our Redundancy toolkit, but here is a brief look at what employers need to know.

Making the selection criteria fair

It is important that the selection criteria you use are well thought out and easy to understand as this is what you will use to ‘score’ staff against in order to determine who will be dismissed for reason of redundancy.

For a redundancy to be genuine, you should ensure that the selection criteria you use is objective and fairly applied and you must be able to demonstrate that the employee’s job will no longer exist.

Communicate as early as possible

When thinking about redundancy, you should communicate as openly and as early as possible. Consultation with individual employees is fundamental to the fairness of any dismissal for redundancy. The process should be used to explain why you are considering redundancies, to listen to the employee’s responses and look for alternatives. It doesn’t have to end in agreement, but it must be carried out with a view to reaching it, including ways of avoiding or reducing the redundancies.

Keeping people informed at all stages of your thoughts and ideas and allowing them to make suggestions and give their feedback, will help to keep them engaged in the process.

Prepare for employee responses

Be prepared for an emotional or difficult response from employees made redundant and from the staff who remain. Your teams will find it easier to get through a tough time if they know why decisions are being made, and that they have been made in a fair and considerate way. Mishandled redundancies are a huge risk to a business, leading to potential problems such as low morale, conflict and damaged reputation.

Employees have the right to appeal

Employees should always be given the right to appeal against a decision to make them redundant and this process is usually outlined in the Termination letter – who they should appeal to, and by what deadline?

An employee who appeals against the redundancy dismissal should be invited to a meeting at which the appeal is heard. Following the appeal meeting, they should be written to with the outcome of the appeal confirmed. The fact that the decision is final should also be made clear.

The redundancy process is complex, and you need to be conducting the process legally, we recommend seeking HR support if you are unsure of employee rights or you are concerned about an employee making a claim. Our Redundancy toolkit provides step-by-step guidance for managers and includes an hour’s support from one of our experienced team. Please get in touch with the team at info@realityhr.co.uk if you have any concerns or questions around the redundancy process.