How to approach job cuts in your business

Strict rules govern the redundancy process. Prepare very carefully if you're intending to cut jobs in your business.

The government’s decision to extend the furloughing scheme by four months reflects the severe and enduring economic fallout from the Covid-19 crisis. But there was also a practical element to last week’s announcement. Without an extension to furloughing, under which the government picks up the tab for 80% of the wages of workers temporarily laid off because of Covid-19, many employers would have had to launch redundancy programmes.

That is because any employer wanting to make more than 100 job cuts has a legal duty to run a 45-day consultation period as part of the process. Employers worrying that there would be no way to keep furloughed workers on once the scheme ended in June, as previously scheduled, would have had to begin consulting on 18 May.

How consultation works

For small and medium-sized employers, such deadlines may not be so pressing, since they are less likely to be making as many as 100 job cuts. Nevertheless, many smaller businesses will be thinking about whether they will eventually have to do so. 

They will also have noted that from July onwards the government is expecting employers to make a contribution to the cost of the furloughing scheme, though it has yet to explain its plans in detail.

Research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development suggests one in four employers in the UK expect to make at least some permanent redundancies as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. In the many sectors of the economy facing protracted turmoil, such as retail, travel and tourism, job losses are inevitable.

Employers will naturally regard redundancies as a last resort, exploring all other options to reduce costs, including making full use of the government support schemes. 

However, your business does need to begin planning for future redundancies even if you hope to avoid them. The normal legal rules continue to apply to redundancy processes, even during the pandemic.

That includes the responsibility to consult with all staff who may be at risk of redundancy. The 45-day rule doesn’t apply on smaller job-cut programmes, but if you’re thinking of making more than 20 redundancies, you’ll need to have at least 30 days of consultation with your staff’s trade unions or elected employee representatives. 

Even on smaller numbers of job cuts, you still need to talk to staff potentially affected in advance. You need to explain why you have to make redundancies, how many jobs – and which ones – are affected, how you will select which workers lose their jobs, and how you intend to calculate redundancy pay.

There are also strict rules on the selection process itself, which has to be conducted according to fair and objective criteria. It also makes sense to have an appeals process ready for employees who feel unfairly treated. 

Given that you must give staff their statutory notice before making them redundant – and you can only do this once consultations have finished – the whole process of making job cuts can take some time. This is why it so important to be prepared, even if you’re hoping to avoid having to cut jobs at all.

Recommended

Early repayment charges: should you abandon your fixed-rate mortgage for a new deal now?
Mortgages

Early repayment charges: should you abandon your fixed-rate mortgage for a new deal now?

Increasing numbers of homeowners are paying an early repayment charge to leave their fixed-rate mortgage deal early, and lock in a new deal now. Shoul…
30 Sep 2022
Energy meter reading day: why you need submit your gas and electricity readings now
Personal finance

Energy meter reading day: why you need submit your gas and electricity readings now

Energy meter reading day - you need to submit your gas and electricity readings as soon as possible ahead of the October energy price increase
30 Sep 2022
Should you fix your mortgage? Here are the best rates available now
Mortgages

Should you fix your mortgage? Here are the best rates available now

Rising interest rates look set to spring a nasty surprise on millions of homeowners next year. You need to take steps today to protect yourself from a…
30 Sep 2022
Why the Bank of England intervened in the bond market
Government bonds

Why the Bank of England intervened in the bond market

A sudden crisis for pension funds exposed to rapidly rising bond yields meant the Bank of England had to act. Cris Sholto Heaton looks at the lessons …
30 Sep 2022

Most Popular

What to do as the age of cheap money and overpriced equities ends
Investment strategy

What to do as the age of cheap money and overpriced equities ends

The age of cheap money, overpriced equities and negative interest rates is over. The great bond bull market is over. All this means you will be losin…
29 Sep 2022
Why everyone is over-reacting to the mini-Budget
Budget

Why everyone is over-reacting to the mini-Budget

Most analyses of the chancellor’s mini-Budget speech have failed to grasp its purpose and significance, says Max King
29 Sep 2022
Mini-Budget: will Kwasi Kwarteng’s gamble on growth work?
Budget

Mini-Budget: will Kwasi Kwarteng’s gamble on growth work?

The government has launched the biggest dash for growth in 50 years, relaunching an approach known as supply-side economics. What is the plan – and wi…
30 Sep 2022