The issue of collective redundancies has been making headlines recently, not least with today’s announcement by Barclays of 1,700 frontline job cuts. Redundancy is increasingly being utilised by employers to slim down areas of business that perhaps might not be performing as well as other, more profitable areas of the business. Even more so given the current economic difficulties. As an employee, in order to safeguard your interests, it is important to know your rights.
Where 20 or more employees are being made redundant within a period of 90 days or less, a number of special consultation rules must be followed. These rules are complex and often difficult for employers to navigate, so to ensure that you are being treated fairly, Fisher Jones Greenwood has compiled a short checklist to enable employees faced with a redundancy situation to access their fairness of the process.
Duty to Consult
Where an employer proposes to make large-scale collective redundancies of 20 or more employees within a period of 90 days or less it must consult on its proposal with representatives of the affected employees. It must also notify the Department for Business Innovation and Skills. It is important to note that recent case law has provided clarity on this duty. It is now clear that the duty to consult employees arises when 20 or more employees from the entire business are made redundant.
Who must the Employer Consult?
The duty is to inform and consult an appropriate employee representative of the affected employees. This could be a recognised trade union if such exists in your workplace, a standing body of representatives (if one exists, you will likely already be aware of their existence) or even a representative elected by the affected employees. If there is no recognised trade union, your employer is entitled to choose who it wishes to consult with.
Where a representative is to be elected by the employees, this must take place within a reasonable time to avoid releasing the employer entirely from its duty to consult.
What information must the Employer provide
Once the appropriate employee representative has been identified, the employer will provide certain information to them in writing. Statute dictates that it must provide:
- The reasons for the proposed dismissals.
- The numbers and descriptions of employees whom it is proposed to dismiss as redundant.
- The total number of employees of any such description employed by the employer at the establishment in question. Although employers may choose to provide this information in relation to the business as a whole.
- The proposed method of selecting employees who may be dismissed.
- The proposed method of carrying out the dismissals, with due regard to any agreed procedure, including the period over which the dismissals are to take effect.
- The proposed method of calculating the amount of any redundancy payments to be made (over and above the statutory redundancy payment) to employees who may be dismissed.
- “Suitable information” about its use of agency workers.
The employer is under a continuing obligation to provide information to its appropriate employee representative throughout the process. This means that if situations change then the employer should inform the employee representative.
Check back for the second part of this two-part feature next week…
Fisher Jones Greenwood is rated as a Top Tier regional Employment Law practice by the Legal 500 guide to the top legal firms in England and Wales. Our specialist employment solicitor Beth Baird is able to advise on the further complexities that arise from collective redundancy procedures.
The above information is intended to present a rough outline of your rights as an employee. If you believe that your employer has failed in its obligation to collectively consult then you should seek the advice of a solicitor. Beth Baird can be reached by phone on 01206 835230 or by email at email@example.com.