Redundancy and the consultation process

Last updated: May 19th, 2022

Redundancies are a difficult subject for both employers and employees. Still, as we ease out of lockdown, many businesses are faced with the possibility of reducing staff numbers.

If lockdown affected your business, you could be considering ways to reduce outgoings such as labour costs.

To avoid making this difficult situation worse, it’s important that your termination procedures comply with redundancy and unfair dismissals legislation.

Compliance with legislation

In its review of a redundancy-related claim, the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) generally takes these three key questions into account:

  1. Was there a genuine reason for the redundancy?
  2. Did the employer use a fair selection process?
  3. Did the employer carry out a fair consultation process?

Below, we’re focusing on question three and the importance of carrying out effective and meaningful consultations with your staff during a redundancy process.

The importance of effective and meaningful consultation

In previous decisions, the WRC has stated that the requirement to carry out a fair consultation process will only be satisfied where an employer has engaged in effective and meaningful consultation with the employee through a series of meetings.

The consultation process

The advice provided below is a suggested consultation process. It should be noted that every redundancy process must be tailored to the circumstances of the particular business. If it happens that you need to make redundancies, remember to consider what constitutes effective and meaningful consultation in relation to your business.

The first step is to hold an ‘at risk’ meeting with the affected employees. This meeting should be used to advise employees that they’re ‘at risk’ of being made redundant. You can also meet with employees individually or as a group.

In this meeting, you must tell them:

  • Why the business has decided it’s necessary to make redundancies.
  • The procedure you’re following.
  • The selection criteria you plan to use.
  • Alternatives you’ve looked at (ask employees for their suggestions).
  • That they have an opportunity to apply for voluntary redundancy.

Once you’ve concluded this meeting the employees should be issued with an ‘at risk letter’. A further two to three meetings should be held with individual employees to discuss any updates and suggestions they may have.

If no alternative can be found, the final meeting should be held with employees to tell them whether or not they’re being made redundant. You will also need to inform them of the redundancy payment amount they’re entitled to.

Once this process has concluded, you’re required to issue affected employees with their formal notice of redundancy.

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