A Cheshire employment law specialist is urging employers to seek advice to ensure a fair redundancy process is held.
It is expected by many business analysts that as the financial support provided by the furlough scheme decreases, organisations may be forced to cut staff as they deal with the fallout from the coronavirus.
And Latham Parry, head of employment law at Warrington-based Watsons Solicitors, is concerned that some companies could face significantly costly mistakes.
He said: “There are a several key steps an employer should follow to ensure a fair redundancy procedure is followed.
“Firstly, they must provide warning and consultation.
“Clear communication is a requirement; staff should be informed of the reasons for the job cuts, expected numbers, who is at risk, the consultation period and the process of selection.
“Failing to consult can lead to unfair dismissal claims. Consultation should be carried out on an individual basis. However, a vital point to note is that if you are proposing to make more than 20 people redundant from one establishment, within a 90-day period, there is also a legal obligation to collectively consult with any recognised trade union or elected employee representatives.
“There is also a minimum period for collective consultation, of either 30 or 45 days depending on how many redundancies are proposed.
“Employers should also listen carefully to any suggestions made by employees or their representatives, as well as choose a fair selection criteria and ensure it is applied fairly and objectively.”
In addition, it’s also advisable to explore avoiding compulsory redundancies such as offering voluntary severance, re-training and transferring to a different department, and cost-saving measures such as job sharing and reducing hours.
Latham added: “The consequences of not following a fair procedure can have a significant and costly impact on an organisation.
“For example, employers could end up dealing with claims for unfair dismissal or even discrimination, and not following the consultation requirements can lead to each individual bringing a claim for up to 13 weeks’ wages.
“Going through redundancy can be a stressful time both employer and employee, and we would urge anyone who is unsure about the process to speak to an employment solicitor.”
Watsons Solicitors, which has been established for more than 60 years, specialises in family law, employment law, wills and probate, personal injury, and conveyancing.
The team of experienced solicitors hold various accreditations and memberships of professional bodies relevant to their expertise, while the firm’s partners oversee all areas of work.