Redundancy is a complicated process to get right and can be expensive to get wrong. Managing a redundancy process requires a great deal of knowledge regarding employment law and insight into potential risks and pitfalls.
If an organisation has HR support, be that in-house or outsourced, they will have access to the knowledge they need.
But what happens when an organisation does not have access to HR support? Who should be involved in redundancy when there’s no HR?
We’ll explore this question in this post. This blog post does assume that you have a certain level of knowledge about the redundancy process, the terminology that relates to a redundancy process and the circumstances in which it may be appropriate.
If you are new to redundancy, then we’d suggest you read our guide to redundancy as a starting point. This guide will talk you through the whole process and help you become familiar with the different elements of redundancy.
Time to read our post: 5 minutes
The questions answered in this post are:
1. We have HR, but they aren’t available at the moment and we need to act now. What can I do?
It could very well be that your business does have HR, but they simply aren’t available now.
- They could be on sick leave or out for a longer period of family leave of some type. In this scenario, do consider whether you can hold on.
- They could be on annual leave. Again, then it’s probable that you can wait.
If your HR professional is on family leave when you need to run a redundancy process, then it’s probable that you won’t be able to wait.
Support for Redundancy if your HR expert is on Family Leave
One option to consider if HR is on family leave is making use of some Keeping In Touch (‘KIT’) days. This will allow you to get guidance from them. Of course, you cannot compel someone on family leave to undertake KIT days but it’s certainly worth asking the question.
If you’re considering redundancies, then you’ll be needing to contact people on family leave anyway. You must keep employees on family leave up to date on changes in the workplace that may have an impact on them.
Redundancy situations, even if they are not in the employee’s department, are something we’d always suggest ensuring people on family leave are informed about.
You could reach out to your HR support, explain what is going on and see if they would be willing to help. Remember, there are only 10 KIT days available. A full KIT day is used even if only an hour of work is undertaken. You’ll therefore need to plan carefully. It’s likely that the HR individual will not be able to undertake all the consultation meetings. However, you may be able to use their expertise to create the process, scripts and documentation. They may be willing to support the individuals who are conducting the meetings with answering any questions that arise.
We can’t emphasise enough that you cannot compel employees to undertake KIT days. If they politely decline to support, be understanding that their time and focus is on their new family member.
2. What should I consider when deciding who should be involved in redundancies?
When deciding who should handle redundancies, start by understanding the expectations for the individual’s role.
A good starting point when deciding who should be involved in redundancies is ensuring that you understand what the individual will be expected to do.
Some key areas would be:
- Seeking legal advice/liaising with any employment insurance provider you have so as to ensure the process and decisions are legally sound.
- Defining the process that will be followed.
- Ensuring the correct employees are placed in the redundancy pool.
- Creating letters for the individuals who are impacted by the process.
- Conducting consultation meetings with individuals.
- Overseeing any selection process that is required.
- Confirming the outcome of the process to employees.
Who has the right knowledge?
The next thing to consider is whether you have anyone in your team who has the knowledge needed to successfully guide the business through a redundancy exercise. If you have someone who has dealt with the process before then they may be able to help your business. However, if they are not a qualified HR professional then they are going to need to get expert guidance from somewhere.
Who has the time?
After that, you’ll need to consider who has the time to commit to the process? Redundancy processes can be very time consuming. Trying to squeeze the process in around a full workload is likely to lead to errors. This is particularly true when the individual dealing with the process is not experienced in redundancy situations.
Who will deal with appeals?
Next, you need to ensure you keep a senior person in your business uninvolved in the process to provide an appeal route if someone disagrees with the outcome. So, it maybe that the MD has gone through the process before and is fairly comfortable conducting the consultation meetings and drafting the documentation. However, if the MD is involved in the process, they won’t be able to hear any appeals that arise. It could be that the MD is really the only option when there is no HR, but they should be the last resort.
Who has the patience?
The final thing to consider is who has the patience to deal with a redundancy process? Redundancy processes can be difficult and there can be a requirement to be very patient with employees. Employees will be trying to understand the process, situation and what it means for them. Not everyone has the patience to handle the numerous questions that can arise during a redundancy process. Pick someone who is known to be calm and considered under pressure.
3. How can the person assigned to manage the redundancies get additional help?
You’ve decided who is the best person to be involved in the redundancies but it’s clear that they are going to need some expert guidance to ensure that the process is legally compliant. They will also need to know where to turn if questions pop up along the way. Where can they get some help?
The first thing to check is whether you have access to employment law support with any insurance policies that you have. Some banks offer access to services as do some employer’s liability insurance providers. Check whether your policies offer anything like this and if they do, make use of it. This is particularly true if you have insurance specifically to address employee disputes should they arise. Such insurance policies will often be void if you don’t seek guidance before acting. Therefore, it’s important that you reach out to the provider first if you have insurance of this nature.
If you don’t have access to legal guidance through this route then you can engage with an HR consultancy (if only we knew one that we would recommend!).
An HR consultancy will be able to support you through the entire process. They can either provide scripts and documentation for you and then be on the end of the phone if you have questions.
Alternatively, they can be in meetings with you and do much of the talking.
Think about the level of support that your internally appointed person will need. Then find a supplier that offers what you are looking for.
A final route is to an employment lawyer. This will likely be the most expensive option. Employment lawyers are excellent at ensuring that the process that you follow is legally sound and they should also be able to provide you with template documentation to use.