Handling redundancies: what the ACAS, CBI and TUC joint statement means for employers

The Job Support Scheme opens from 1 November 2020, and prohibits employers giving notice of termination for redundancy whilst claiming grants to support staff wages. Ahead of the scheme’s launch, the CBI and the TUC issued a joint statement through ACAS to remind employers of their responsibilities..

The statement outlines that many employers may consider redundancies as the only survival option, and urges that they exhaust all possible alternatives before making redundancies.

It reminds employers about the alternatives to redundancy that could help avoid job losses and the costs of tribunals and post-recovery recruitment, such as:

  • part-time working, now with the potential for job support grants;
  • cuts to overtime;
  • alternative roles; and
  • retraining.

The statement calls on employers to get the process right by issuing five instructions.

1) Do it openly

Employers have an obligation both to notify BEIS and to consult for 45 days with recognised trades unions or elected workforce representatives. If you are proposing to make 100 redundancies over a 90 day period at one establishment, or 20 redundancies overs 30 days, please read our guide to coronavirus redundancies.

2) Do it thoroughly

You must train the elected staff representatives so that they understand their role in managing communications effectively and seeking to reach agreement as to the proposal and its application to the workforce.

3) Do it genuinely

Consultation must be a dialogue with due consideration given to the other view before moving ahead with decisions.

4) Do it fairly

All aspects of your redundancy procedure should be conducted fairly and without any form of discrimination.

5) Do it with dignity

Keep in mind the human cost of redundancy, and that you may want to rehire the person with the talent you later need as work resumes. Getting an exit right reflects well on the organisation’s culture. It will also speak volumes to the remaining staff who are losing colleagues, and whose complete engagement and commitment is needed to support the business though this crisis.

Ensure fairness even for those without redundancy rights

Whilst the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme did allow employers to give employees notice of redundancy even whilst claiming grant support, it mandated them to undertake fair processes to do so.

Only those with two years’ continuous service have the right to ordinary unfair dismissal protections which mandates a fair process. However, employers who do not undertake a process for those who have less than two years’ service are vulnerable to discrimination allegations which this statement reminds them to avoid.

Contact Carolyn Brown or Charlie Barnes to discuss your redundancy obligations as an employer.