Preparing to make redundancies

By David Scott, Head of Employment Law

As the Government starts to withdraw many of its financial support mechanisms for businesses, employers may be left with little choice but to make redundancies in the coming weeks.

The 31 October is a key date for employers as the Government brings the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which has helped subsidise the wages of more than 9 million furloughed workers and supported around 1.14 million businesses, to an end.

A redundancy situation, which allows an employee to be dismissed, arises where an employer closes or intends to close their business either totally or at any of its workplaces.

Businesses can also make redundancies where they need to reduce the number of employees to carry out a particular kind of work.

The COVID-19 pandemic has not, however, suspended normal employment law rules.

If you intend to make any employee redundant you must follow a fair procedure. That will involve consulting with the employees affected and ensuring that you don’t discriminate when selecting them for redundancy. You should remember the Equality Act’s protected characteristics, such as age, gender and disability.

Employers intending to make 20 or more employees redundant at a single workplace will need to undertake collective consultation for 30 days. While for redundancies involving 100 or more employees the period is 45 days.

There are also special rules that apply to any employees that are pregnant, or on maternity, adoption or shared parental leave.

The redundancy process can be difficult and stressful. If not handled properly and within the ‘fairness’ guidelines you could face claims being made against you for unfair dismissal or unlawful discrimination.

If you would like assistance with redundancies, please contact our experienced Employment Law team by calling 01904 528200 or emailing law@hethertons.co.uk.