Like most businesses over the past few years, my company has migrated a lot of its business online. However a big chunk of my workforce lacks the skills – and interest – to help the company grow as a digital business. We’ve tried educating employees using external training companies but it doesn’t seem to have any lasting effect. As such, I am thinking about making redundancies across the company, which will make room for us to bring in a younger, more digitally minded workforce. I can’t afford to make the appointments in addition to the roles we currently have. Can you advise me on whether I can go ahead with the redundancies based on capability concerns and changes to the nature of the business?
In broad terms, there are three main redundancy situations:
- The closure of the business as a whole.
- The closure of a particular workplace
- A reduction in the size of the workforce.
It is a dismissal for redundancy where it is attributable to the fact that the requirements of that business for employees to carry out work of a particular kind have ceased or diminished. This is where, for whatever reason, the employer wants fewer employees doing a particular kind of work. There need not necessarily be less work to be done.
It is less clear where the employer retains the same number of employees, but on different work than before. It is redundancy if a particular type of work has disappeared altogether, but if it has simply been altered or modernised, eg: by technology, this may not be the case. The test is whether the changed job requires different aptitudes, skill or knowledge. Consultation is extremely important in potential redundancy situations. Failure to consult may well make a dismissal unfair. Any capability concerns should be addressed through capability procedures.
No mention should be made of age whatsoever to prevent any claims under the Equality Act. Consultation must be meaningful and involves seeking mutually acceptable solutions through a genuine exchange of views and information.
The underlying message is that consultation is a meaningful exchange of view. Nobody enjoys announcing potential redundancies but please try and avoid euphemisms and just be honest.
Recent announcements have mentioned:
“Actions to capture value from our global presence in a changed world”
“Renewing customer led business model to drive future growth”
“Jobs would cease to be to create an appropriate financial envelope for success”
At the end of the day redundancy is still a dismissal and so it is most advisable to seek professional help from the outset.
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