Last reviewed 6 October 2020

Acas, the CBI and the TUC have joined together to issue a statement on how best to deal with the impact that the coronavirus pandemic is having on businesses and their ability to keep their staff in employment.

“Challenges to working practices, disrupted supply chains and weakening demand, are leading many employers to consider redundancy as the only survival option,” the statement notes. “Faced with making quick decisions in a fragile economic environment, it can feel as if there are no good answers.”

However, the signatories to the statement urge employers to exhaust all possible alternatives before making redundancies, bearing in mind that these often emerge from effective consultation with workers and trade unions.

Joint decisions to save jobs have, for example, been based on more part-time working, cuts to overtime, alternative roles and retraining.

Handling redundancies

The note sets out five principles that should guide employers considering redundancies.

  1. Do it openly, as the sooner people understand the situation, the better for everyone.

  2. Do it thoroughly, as people need information and guidance and staff representatives may need training in the processes.

  3. Do it genuinely, ensuring that people's views are properly heard before making a decision.

  4. Do it fairly, ensuring that all aspects of the organisation’s redundancy procedure is conducted without any form of discrimination.

  5. Do it with dignity, recognising that “the way you let people go says a lot about your organisation's values. Think about how you will handle the conversation — whether its face-to-face or remote. And remember, you may want to rehire the same person in the future.”

When employers, unions and employee representatives work together, the statement highlights, solutions can often result in retaining loyal skilled staff, and help avoid the costs of redundancy, employment tribunals and recruitment when the economy recovers.

Comment by Croner Associate Director Paul Holcroft

Redundancies are never easy for employers and affected employees but, with the coronavirus situation, some employers may feel that they have no choice but to render some of their roles redundant.

With the Government’s new Job Support Scheme as a future possibility for eligible employers though, we may begin to see organisations rethink whether redundancy is the best move after all, especially since the end to the furlough scheme has been a source of concern for many.