Headcount Reductions

This checklist summarises the key issues that your business should be aware of when dealing with a redundancy situation.

When can a redundancy situation arise?

Redundancy encompasses three different types of situation:

  • Business closure.
  • Workplace closure.
  • Reduction of workforce.

Collective consultation

  • If your business is making 20 or more employees redundant over a period of 90 days or less, you must:
    • inform and consult appropriate employee representatives.
    • notify the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).
  • An employment tribunal can award up to 90 days’ pay for each employee if your business has not consulted adequately. You can also be fined for failing to notify BIS.
  • Your business should also ensure that you follow a fair procedure during the redundancy process (including consulting with employees properly) to minimise the possibility of claims for unfair dismissal.

Redundancy and unfair dismissal

  • Redundancy is a potentially fair reason for dismissal. However, a redundancy dismissal is likely to be unfair unless your business:
    • identifies an appropriate pool of employees for selection for redundancy.
    • consults with the individuals in the redundancy selection pool.
    • applies objective selection criteria to the employees in the redundancy selection pool.
    • considers suitable alternative employment where appropriate (subject to a trial period).
  • In certain circumstances, selecting an employee for redundancy will be automatically unfair. For example, selecting an employee:
    • for a reason connected to pregnancy; or
    • because they refused to sign a working time opt-out agreement.

Alternatives to redundancy

  • At the start of a redundancy procedure your business should consider whether you can avoid making compulsory redundancies or reduce the number of compulsory redundancies. For example, by:
    • suspending or restricting recruitment;
    • reducing or removing overtime opportunities;
    • not renewing contractors’ contracts; or
    • Ceasing or reducing the use of agency workers.
  • If these steps are unavailable or insufficient, your business could also consider:
    • inviting potentially redundant employees to apply for suitable alternative vacancies;
    • inviting employees to volunteer for redundancy;
    • inviting employees to consider early retirement; or
    • temporarily laying off employees or reducing their hours.

Redundancy payments

  • Employees with at least two years continuous employment with your business at the point they are made redundant will be entitled to a statutory redundancy payment.
  • Some employees may also be entitled to an enhanced contractual redundancy payment.

More information

If you have any queries about the content of this checklist, please contact Philippa Spratley.