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Redundancy
Anonymous
Asked a question 2 months ago

Hi, Ed. I saw you on Sunrise this week talking about redundancies. It's something we sadly may have to consider moving forward. You mentioned the importance of the conversations between employees and employers in these situations. Do you have any advice about how to broach that? We've never done it before, and it's a tough conversation to have.

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From Ed: It really is. There are two versions of this advice, I'd say. Try and think always of the law relating to anything in the employment redundancy in this particular case. It's like the safety net, really, that you should really be trying to operate to a better standard. And what the law says is a safety net is that you need to warn employees, and you need to consult with them. And what that means is giving them due warning that there is a risk of a redundancy, not that you have decided that there is a redundancy, that you must not go into this with a closed mind. You must go in with an open mind. The law requires you to do that. And that you will meet with them or receive from them any feedback or proposals as to how redundancy could be avoided or the situation could be handled in a different way. So that's the basic starting point. I suppose how do you do that in terms of tips with that...transparency underpins all of this. It's the same as any form of communications we talk about on here. Just make sure you're clear, concise and consistent. So don't, you know, tell employee A in the corridor but forget to mention it to employee B and C, because they'll start to feel like they're getting picked on and maybe that they're being preselected.

Be as open and honest as you can. Make sure you back up whatever you say in writing. So, for example, if you wanted to explain that the business was suffering from the crisis and there was an impact to the crisis on your business, you might not go into full...you know, you're not required to give full financial details of that, but you might give a sense of the circumstance to the employees when you are warning them and therefore then when you consult with them, just so they've got enough information to engage in a healthy conversation with you about it.

I'll give you an example about what I mean with that. So as a business during the crisis, we have defined what we call our paying client number. So we have about 27,000 clients. A number of those, we have said to them that they can have a payment holiday based upon their financial pressures. And we measure that number by saying how many of our clients are actually paying us. And that's a critical measure that I've told the entire business that we monitor week to week. And I explain that to them each week.

So if we ended up going to a situation where...touch wood, and, fortunately, we're not at this stage yet, but we needed to make redundancies, I would be explaining it to them through the paying client number and saying, "Guys, as I've explained each week, we've been monitoring this number. As you've seen for a number of weeks it's been going in the wrong direction. Let's say if we were ending up in a redundancy process, we've consequently had to look at making cost reductions in order to achieve the necessary business goals." And I'd put that in writing. I'd then invite them to a meeting to discuss it with me, probably individually. I might warn them as a group, but I'd individually give them the opportunity to speak to me. So it's not an easy process. It's a very emotional one as well. So do take care in doing it.

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