Few firms have been unaffected by redundancies in the last few years. For managers trained when the emphasis was all on retaining and motivating people, this has been a massive culture shock.

Where a whole business or department is closing down, it may be obvious where the axe has to fall, but often it is a case of selecting a number of staff from a group. This has to be done as carefully and scientifically as possible to avoid a finding of unfair dismissal. As a minimum, we recommend that the process will last a couple of weeks which is a testing period for managers and staff alike.

First the bad news has to be broken to those who are at risk and the selection process explained. Individual consultation meetings follow, to consider any suggestions for avoiding redundancies, such as going part-time, job-sharing or taking pay cuts. If this does not do the trick – and it rarely does – then a selection exercise has to be carried out, scoring those involved against the criteria that seem most important to the employer. Those provisionally selected will then need the chance to see and comment on their scores at a further meeting, and of course a right of appeal. Where more than 20 staff may be dismissed, more extensive group consultation rules apply.

If you are embarking on this process in the near future, there is some general guidance is available here:

EHRC Booklet: A short guide to managing the downturn and preparing for recovery

It may well be sensible to take face to face advice on the appropriate procedure for your situation. This is one of the most difficult and demanding HR procedures to carry out correctly, with severe penalties if it is mishandled.

To find out more about how we can help, or to discuss our open and competitive fee structure, call James Twine on 01752 292351 or Victoria Sargeant on 01752 292372 to see how we can help.