How Should a Business Decide Who is at Risk of Redundancy?

A key part of redundancy planning is to identify which employees are impacted by the changes a business is proposing. This is called “pooling” and, in this post we look at how you should go about deciding on redundancy pools.

Published Categorised as Managing Redundancies
2020-11-05 - How should a business select who is at risk of redundancy - Lighter HR
2020-11-05 - How should a business select who is at risk of redundancy - Lighter HR

When you commence a redundancy process, you need to identify which employees in your business made be impacted by the changes you are considering. These are then the employees who you will engage with during your redundancy process. The process that you go through to determine who these people are is referred to as “pooling”. Getting pooling correct is a key element in a fair redundancy process so it’s important that you get it right. More accurately, it’s important that you have solid, documented reasons for why you select the pool(s) that you do.

This post is part of our redundancy series and it’s about a very specific topic.  If you’re looking for more general information about redundancy, then you should start with our detailed guide to redundancy for employers

The questions answered in this post are:

Pooling can be tricky so we strongly advise you get in-touch with us on 0203 146 8770 to get expert, tailored guidance before you take any actions.

1. How do I decide who is in the redundancy pool?

Many times, it is obvious who should be in the redundancy pool.

For example, you may have a team of designers who all do the same job.  You currently have 4 and you only need 2 moving forward.  In this situation, all 4 designers will be in the pool. You will then go through a selection process as part of your redundancy consultation process.

But then there are the times when it’s not quite so clear.

You may have an organisation where there’s a lot of overlap between roles and, whilst people have different job titles, there are a lot of similarities between the jobs that they do on a day-to-day basis.  In this situation, how do you decide who you should be considering as part of the redundancy pool?

Our suggestion is that you start by making sure that you have job descriptions for the roles that you need moving forward.  Then, you should honestly ask yourself, based on what people are doing today, who is doing a role that is closely aligned to the roles you need in the future?

Please note, don’t confuse this question with “Who do I want to be doing these roles in the future?”  You’re asking yourself who is currently doing a role that is very similar to the role that you need in the future.  These are the people that you should include in the redundancy pool.

2. What happens if I get redundancy pooling wrong?

Ultimately, getting redundancy pooling wrong could be a contributing factor to a finding of unfair dismissal in an Employment Tribunal. However, this typically only happens if you really didn’t give the topic much thought.

The most important thing is that you’re able to demonstrate that you thought about who is in the pool and that you have business reasons for the approach that you have taken. 

It isn’t the job of the Employment Tribunal to decide whether you got redundancy pooling right or wrong. There are often many different ways that pooling could be conducted.  The job of the Employment Tribunal is to determine whether you gave redundancy pooling the appropriate consideration and whether your approach was reasonable. The Employment Tribunal will also look for evidence to support why you decided to create the pool that you used.

3. Do I need to document the redundancy pool?

If you’ve read any of our other content on redundancy, you’ll know how we go on and on and on and on about the importance of documentation. Here we go again! 

Documenting your thinking and decisions in a redundancy process is very important. It puts you in the best possible position if you do face future challenge on what you did.  Remember, it could be 18 months before a case reaches an Employment Tribunal so you don’t want to be relying on your memory.

4. Do I need to consult with anyone when defining the redundancy pool?

It’s worth remembering that redundancy pooling is something that you can and should consult on during the redundancy consultation process. 

Explaining to the impacted employees how you’ve reached the pools that you have and giving them the opportunity to challenge your decision gives you every opportunity to take a different approach if, in hindsight, you think that would be better. 

Of course, even if the employees challenge the pooling you don’t have to change your approach. You should however be able to demonstrate that you have taken the challenge into consideration and explain why you feel that your pooling is correct. Equally, if employees present challenges and you think that, on reflection, they are correct, don’t be fearful of changing your approach. The entire point of consultation is that you are sharing your thinking with employees and listening to what they say. Acknowledging that your conclusion on pooling was incorrect and you are going to adopt their suggestion is not a bad thing.

If you would like any help with a redundancy process that you’re considering, then please do contact us on 0203 146 8770.

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