Who should you consult with? Different rules apply depending on how many potential redundancies you may be forced to make.
- Redundancy – where to start
- Who to consult with
- Who to select for redundancy
- Alternatives to redundancy
- Consultation meetings
- Redundancy – scoring employees
- Concluding redundancy consultation
Consultation must be ‘meaningful’ – this means you must get their feedback and input, and seriously consider their proposals.
Consulting with employees
You must discuss your planned changes with each employee who could be affected – individually to explain changes and get their ideas and feedback. The meeting can take place over the phone if you both agree to it and there is a clear need, for example if someone works remotely.
You should make it clear that your plans have not be finalised. You should aim to include any employees’ suggestions or ideas you agree with.
What is collective consultation?
If you are proposing to make more than 20 employees redundant from one workplace within a 90 day period, you must follow the collective consultation rules.
This means you will need to start consulting the appropriate representatives of the affected employees – usually a recognised trade union or employee representatives. These employee representatives need to be elected and trained. You may already have a workplace agreement in place.
When to consult
There are set rules for collective redundancies which you must follow.
- Fewer than 20 redundancies – there are no set rules around when to begin consultation before giving redundancy notices.
- 20 to 99 redundancies within 90 days in 1 workplace – you must begin consultation at least 30 days before giving the first redundancy notice.
- 100 or more redundancies within 90 days in 1 workplace – you must begin consultation at least 45 days before giving the first redundancy notice.
If you ignore – or don’t get the collective consultation right, you could face a protective award of up to 90 days’ gross pay per employee.
By law, you must let the Redundancy Payment Service (RPS) know your plans before the collective consultation starts. You can be fined if you do not notify the RPS.
Prepare for the consultation
You should get the information ready that you’re going to share.
During the consultation period, you must let employees or appropriate representatives, for example a trade union or elected employee representative, know in writing:
Once the consultation process has commenced, the representatives should be provided with the following information on the proposed redundancies:
- The reasons for the redundancies
- The number of employees proposed for dismissal
- Details on the proposed employees to be dismissed
- The selection criteria
- How the dismissal is to be carried out
- How redundancy payments will be calculated
How long should the consultation last?
There are no rules for how long the consultation should last. It can last longer than the minimum periods listed above if it’s a large or complex redundancy situation.
You do not need to reach agreement for the consultation to come to an end. You simply need to show that the consultation was genuine and that you aimed to reach agreement.
You must be able to show that you’ve listened to your employees and that you responded to questions and suggestions.
What to discuss during the consultation
Consultations allow you to explain to employees why you’re planning redundancies.
You must discuss with employees (or representatives):
- ways to avoid or reduce the redundancies
- how to reduce the effect of the redundancies
- how you can restructure or plan for the future
- how employees are selected for redundancy
You must consider and respond to any suggestions made by employees. You can reject any ideas you do not think are reasonable but you should explain why. It’s important to document all discussions and the reasons for your decisions.
You might not always be able to avoid redundancies but by working with employees you’ll often be able to save jobs and come away with a better idea of how your business can plan for the future.
Not providing enough information often leads to frustration and mistrust and can sometimes mean the consultation is invalid. It will also make a tribunal claim much more likely.