No one really wants to think about redundancy, let alone talk about it.

The unfortunate reality, however, is that someday as a HR professional, you may find yourself in the unenviable position of overseeing a redundancy.   

If that happens, it is essential that you are prepared to manage the process correctly. Not only to protect your company from liability but to ensure that the process proceeds as smoothly and fairly as possible for everyone involved.

How can you prepare for redundancies?

In Ireland, we have two fantastic (detailed and reliable) sources of information regarding the legal obligations and employee entitlements associated with redundancy:

  1. The Citizens Information Website
  2. The Workplace Relations Website

It goes without saying that all the legal requirements associated with redundancy, should be adhered to in full. Beyond that, here are some high-level suggestions for successfully navigating a redundancy.

Do your due diligence – in other words, ensure that redundancy is absolutely necessary before starting the process. It is always recommended that alternative avenues are explored first e.g. reduced overtime or recruitment freezes. In fact, Legal-Island suggests that companies seek legal counsel to ensure that a genuine redundancy situation exists and that the process is implemented correctly and in line with all relevant legislation.

If in fact redundancy is deemed to be necessary; you should ensure that you can produce evidence/documentation to support your conclusion.

Apply fair selection criteria – when implementing redundancies, employers must apply objective selection criteria that can be applied equally and fairly across the workforce to determine who exactly is in scope (Turnstone HR Limited, 2011). Selection criteria might include factors such as qualifications, skills and disciplinary records. It is important to be aware that an employee can pursue legal redress if the selection criteria applied in redundancy is deemed to be unfair.

Provide adequate notice – employers are obliged to issue written notice of redundancy and employees are entitled to a minimum period of notice. According to Micheal Page, it is considered good employment practice to provide advance notice to all workers of a redundancy situation, regardless of their length of service.

Help those who are leaving – Redundancies can be unpleasant, but you don’t have to be. Small gestures can help ease some of the stress associated with the transition e.g. being flexible with working hours to allow people to attend interviews for new positions.

Be sensitive to the feelings of those left behind – whilst their jobs are safe, a redundancy situation can be terribly draining and even traumatic for those employees who are left behind (with colleagues and even friends being let go). Taking the time to connect with staff on a 1:1 basis, taking steps to boost morale and making an effort to rebuild their feelings of job security; will be crucial.