COVID - The Redundancy Knock-on Effect

Announcements of job losses have been coming in thick and fast this week, and from some significant UK employers. Names such as Centrica and Bombardier have added their names to those to have already announced swathes of redundancies.

Early announcements of redundancies came largely from the airline industry as international travel ground almost to a standstill as the virus took hold. The effect of businesses such as Virgin Atlantic, Easyjet and Ryanair shedding staff soon affected others down the supply chain including Rolls Royce and BP.

Even as businesses begin to return to work, including a very gradual resumption in the hospitality sector, we can’t deny that such a big dent in the UK workforce will have a dramatic effect on the UK economy. Less of us will have less disposable income as the Government makes adjustments to recoup the cost of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Indeed, People Management magazine has this week suggested that as many as one employer in four would be making some permanent redundancies that they attribute to Covid-19.

In our experience, making the decision to cut staff is a gut-wrenching choice for any business owner or senior manager. Nobody wants to put people out of work, however the survival of the business must come first in order to maintain jobs that can be sustained and hopefully put the business in a position from which it can grow stronger again and rebuild.

If and when the time comes to make redundancies, it’s imperative that the process is carried out transparently and equitably; obviously for legal reasons, but also for the welfare and mental health of all concerned. Sitting either side of the redundancy table is always going to be a stressful experience, particularly when the job losses have come about from no act of wrongdoing or poor management.

In all redundancy situations, the key point to remember is that it is positions that are made redundant and not people. Therefore, where a position is identified as being redundant and more than one person is currently employed who can fulfil it, operating a fair selection process is paramount in conjunction with the appropriate consultation period for the numbers being made redundant.

We recommend employees are scored against a ‘selection matrix’ that awards points for each requirement of the position including skills, qualifications, track record and experience. The scoring could include minus points for poor attendance and any disciplinary history. The lowest scores are those who are dismissed.

It’s probably a good time to re-visit this list of key points that we have published previously. These are only to help you steer clear of some of the pitfalls however. If a restructure looks like it’s on the cards, you should speak to us for specific and detailed support.

  • Give full and careful consideration to your business case rational and which employee groups are at risk
  • It is not an easy process for you or your staff, so getting the communication strategy right, including a consistent message, cannot be overstated
  • Remember it is always jobs that are at risk of redundancy, never the person
  • You’ll need to formally open a consultation for two to three weeks if less than 20 jobs are at risk
  • You’ll need a selection criteria that’s fair AND transparent and stands up to scrutiny
  • Conduct meaningful 1-2-1 meetings; preferably face to face and if your using technology, find a platform that allows this
  • Employees have a right to representation at all 1-2-1 meetings
  • Once consultation is closed and you’re giving formal notice of dismissal hearings, be sure to follow the correct procedure including adequate notice, the right to representation and the right of appeal
  • You don’t have to have all the answers on the spot. It’s OK to come back later
  • Keep notes of all discussions with staff, and send confirmation

We’re expecting a lot of enquiries for redundancy support over the coming weeks and months so we’re in the process of compiling a number of support packages to help employers through these difficult times.
If you need any support in the meantime please call us on 01452 331331 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.