Who is actually redundant? (Part 2)

16 Jan 13

Employers need to be careful to consider all relevant employees when planning redundancies, and not take too narrow an approach.

It may be useful to ask:

  • What work is disappearing?
  • Who is doing that work?
  • Who else has the same terms and conditions of employment?

Our September article looked at the dangers of considering people for redundancy who should not have been considered, in other words taking too wide an approach to the question of who to make redundant. This article looks at the opposite problem, the dangers of overlooking someone who should have been considered for redundancy.

St George International Group taught English for speakers of other languages (ESOL). It decided to stop offering the two lowest level classes, and made the two teachers who taught those classes redundant.  But all five teachers were general teachers – any of them could have been required to teach any ESOL class.  The particular class they happened to be teaching at the time of redundancy was not part of their terms and conditions of employment. 

Therefore all five teachers should have been considered for redundancy, not just the two teachers whose classes came to an end.  One of those two teachers successfully challenged her dismissal and won reinstatement.

So where one or more redundancies are needed the first and crucial step is to correctly identify the group of employees who need to be considered for redundancy – the employees who are doing the work that is disappearing and any other employees who have the same terms and conditions of employment. 

The next step is to:

  • identify the criteria for selection for redundancy (which may be stipulated in an employment agreement);
  • consider all relevant employees against those criteria to identify who ranks lowest; and
  • consult potentially affected employees. 

Employees facing possible redundancy are entitled to know why redundancies are being considered, which other employees they are being compared with, what the selection criteria are, and why they rank lowest. This is necessary to give them an opportunity to challenge the need for redundancies, the membership of the group of employees under consideration for redundancy, the choice of criteria, and/or the ranking, before a final decision is made.

Prepared by Lesley Brook