As the economy continues to falter, a West Midland employment lawyer is claiming that redundancy need not be the only solution in a difficult situation.
Richard Moon, head of employment law at Blythe Liggins, in Leamington, said: “It is vital in an economic downturn that organisations manage their workforce effectively and examine every facet of their business. Compulsory redundancies are not always the answer.”
Mr Moon claims that in many cases an employer could take a number of positive measures to save costs. For example, by cancelling all but the most necessary projects, reviewing contracts with suppliers to identify savings or sourcing alternative cheaper supplies, selling or outsourcing discrete parts of the business and considering favourably requests for flexible working.
“Staff are usually employed to perform a specific job role and their contracts may allow them to be redeployed. Even where the contract does not expressly allow for this, redeployment should be considered as an alternative to redundancy. An employer could also look at how better to utilise its employees by combining or eliminating roles which are no longer required.”
Mr Moon said that if the required cost savings still could not be achieved then an employer may wish to seek volunteers for redundancy and offer an enhancement over and above the statutory redundancy entitlement. This may reduce the necessity for compulsory redundancies.
“If individual redundancies are still sadly required then it is vital that the employer carries out the correct procedures and complies with the minimum statutory dismissal procedure.
Getting it wrong can lead to claims for unfair dismissal (with the potential for a compensatory award of up to £63,000 for each employee) and an additional 50 per cent of any award for failing to follow the statutory procedure,” he said.