Consulting Employees before the Redundancy Process

The definition of redundancy in regards to collective consultation is a “dismissal for a reason not related to the individual concerned”. This includes cases where an employer proposes to dismiss and re-engage employees to review employment contracts. The redundancy process can be a long one and employers should be careful throughout.

Collectively Consulting Employees at the Start of the Redundancy Process

When an employee is proposing to make redundant 20 or more employees within 90 days or less, then the employer has a duty to consult with the appropriate representatives of the employees affected. Employees can directly be affected by the dismissals or affected by measures taken related to the dismissals.

If there are over 100 employees affected, consultations must commence at least 45 days before the first dismissal of the redundancy process. If over 20 employees are affected, consultations must commence at least 30 days before the first dismissal of the redundancy process. There is no obligation to collectively consult employees for redundancy dismissals affecting 19 employees or less.

However, even if no collective consultation is required, redundancy dismissals are generally deemed unfair if there has been no consultation with individuals, or if that consultation was not adequate.

Collective consultations must end before the employer can give any notices of termination of employment.

What should be discussed at an Individual Redundancy Consultation Meeting?

After provisionally and fairly selecting employees that could be made redundant, the employer should hold individual consultation meetings as part of the redundancy process. Employers should first provide general information about the selection process and the reason of the proposed redundancies (either collectively or in groups with the affected employees).

Individual meetings should give the employee the opportunity to suggest how he or she may avoid redundancies and forego the redundancy process. Employers should give serious consideration to any suggestions that the employee makes.

Individual meetings should also be the opportunity for employees to raise any objections against his or her selection for dismissal. Both parties should discuss whether or not there is a suitable employment alternative for the employee and the employer should explain what support is in place, should the redundancy be confirmed. This could include paid time off to look for new employment, for example.

The employer should also explain how to redundancy package works and how the notice period will operate for the duration of the redundancy process.

There is no set number of meetings that should be held during the consultation process, but it is generally assumed that at least 2 meetings will be necessary for the employee to be able to consider and respond to the information discussed. Any issues outstanding from previous meetings can be discussed in further meetings, as the consultation process needs to be done before notice of termination is given.

Redundancies can be a lengthy and delicate process and there are a lot of different things employers need to look out for. In these difficult times, many business owners find it beneficial to get the support and guidance from an HR expert. If you have any concerns or questions regarding dismissals, the redundancy process or other HR matters, don’t hesitate to talk to us!

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